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April 30, 2012

The Brooklyn Nets can scrub hard, but the Jersey won't come off

Mere hours after the New Jersey Nets' final Garden State home game last week, the team made a thorough and final disappearance from Newark's Prudential Center.

Capital New York
by David Roth

The Nets will not bring much to Brooklyn, besides novelty and hope: The current team is lousy almost by design, stripped to ease the so-far-futile pursuit of high-end free agents. The idea was to pair point guard Deron Williams, a dynamic playmaker acquired in a blockbuster deal late last season, with disgruntled Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

That deal didn't happen. Howard has an injured back and a new reputation as one of the N.B.A.'s foremost and most grandiose ego-monsters, and Williams is reportedly eager to leave the organization for less-dysfunctional climes, seemingly heedless of the fact that the Nets new arena is a short walk from both the Brooklyn Museum and Al Di La. Without Williams or Howard, it's no exaggeration to say that the Nets could be the N.B.A.'s worst team when they tip off in Brooklyn next year.

Of course, the Barclays Center—the Nets’ taxpayer-aided new arena, looming like a crashed U.F.O. over brownstone Brooklyn and above the old Atlantic Yards—is not exactly a Craigslist share off the Morgan stop on the L Train. There is that viral billboard campaign and all that Yormark marketing, and there is the chance that the team could snag a franchise-defining star in the N.B.A. Draft lottery. But mostly the Nets arrive in Brooklyn as naked and helpless as any hopeful, hopeless New Jersey emigrant.
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It would be nice to wish them luck, I suppose. But New Jersey people—even those of us who have tentatively made it here, and love the place—have a thing about forgetting where we come from, and a special scorn for the sort of self-exile who instantly calls himself a New Yorker. We hear the accent, and the lie in it. Everyone else can, too. It's a hard one to shake.

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Posted by eric at 11:10 PM

At the "the brand identity launch of the Brooklyn Nets": new merchandise, global reach, "Community Week," and the continued invocation of Jay-Z

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder files the definitive report on the today's Brooklyn Nets merchandise-a-thon.

It was about Brooklyn, but it was, of course, about business: logos, t-shirts, hats, and other Brooklyn Nets merchandise at the Modell's across from the in-construction Barclays Center arena.

In a press conference/pep rally this morning, before the press and Nets-related staffers, MC David Diamante introduced what he called "the brand identity launch of the Brooklyn Nets."

The black-and-white logos had already emerged, though other "secondary marks" were new, such as the "Brownstone Ballers, "Brooklyn's Finest," and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" shirts.
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Beyond the merch: tickets

Substantial if not overwhelming crowds--well over 100 people--lined up for Nets' merchandise outside Modell's (below right photo) and on the Atlantic Terminal plaza to buy season tickets--before either of the lines actually moved.

A larger group lined up to shoot free throws and get a chance at a Community Week t-shirt.

The numbers were likely diminished because it was a work day. The Nets put 1000 season tickets, at all price points, up for sale to Brooklynites.

"Screecher seats"?

How many of the $15 seats, of which there should be 2,000, were for sale? Nets spokesman Barry Baum said people could buy at whatever price point they chose.

Would the much-promised $15 screecher seats be available as single-game tickets or solely as season tickets? Baum said, "At this point, we haven't determined [it]."

Click through for much more, if you have the stomach.

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Posted by eric at 11:01 PM

In Hapless Nets, Hope for Jilted Borough

The New York Times
by Joseph Berger

Though the Nets, who are moving to the borough after playing basketball the last 35 years in New Jersey, have a well-earned reputation for haplessness, those celebrating their arrival made no complaints.

“The curse of O’Malley is officially over today,” declared Bruce C. Ratner, the builder and majority owner of the arena, who orchestrated the Nets’ move before selling most of the team to a Russian billionaire in 2009.

And the curse of Ratner officially begins today.

The question hovering over the event was whether the Nets would be able to fill the 18,000-seat arena. Would the team continue its uninspired play after a season in which it lost twice as many games as it won and remind residents of “Da Bums” of the 1930s Dodgers? Or would it sparkle like the Brooklyn teams of the ’40s and ’50s that won seven pennants and put a lilt of I-told-you-so pride in the steps of its lunch-pail-lugging fans?

The Times takes us out with a bromide:

Jeff Noel, 22, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, who was carrying a half-dozen knit Nets shirts, was excited about the impact on the community.

“A lot of kids will be inspired to play in their hometown of Brooklyn,” he said.

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NoLandGrab: While The Times gave ink to inspiration expert Jeff Noel, they didn't bother to quote a jobs expert, like Bettina Damiani, about last week's Barclays Center jobs sideshow. In fact, they didn't bother to cover it at all.

Posted by eric at 10:50 PM

What Do You Think of the Brooklyn Nets' New Logo? [POLL]

Created by co-owner Jay Z, designs for basketball team unveiled on Monday.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

The Nets' new logo is faring a bit better than the old team — but it's still a loser.

According to the Nets, the new logos combine design aspects from the current New Jersey Nets brand with the iconic "B" for Brooklyn—with one version a shield including "Brooklyn" at the bottom, the other with the words, "Brooklyn, New York," surrounding a basketball.

What do you think? Do the new logos "symbolically identify the team with the strength and character of Brooklyn"?

Or do the new designs for the borough's basketball team fall flat?

Click below to take the poll.

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NoLandGrab: Don't quit your day job, Hov.

Posted by eric at 10:36 PM

The New Nets Logo: Black And White and Read All Over

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Joe Stepansky

Mr. Yormark wasn’t the only fan of the design. Aaron Harding, who works at the Downtown Flea Market in Fort Greene, said it is in step with Brooklyn’s unique identity.

“Brooklyn is more innovative now,” said Mr. Harding. “It’s fitting.”

It’s fitting — if you’re a fan of developer Bruce Ratner’s 18,000-seat arena currently rising at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. The black-and-white logo doesn’t change opponents from seeing red over the basketball facility and the larger residential project that Mr. Ratner was allowed to pursue after the state used eminent domain to evict residents of the arena area and sold him the development rights for a below-market price.

“It’s a horrible ugly stadium,” said Michael Matson, 27, who has lived in Fort Greene for 10 years. “I don’t care about the new colors. Ratner’s a rat.”

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Posted by eric at 10:31 PM

How many full-time jobs at the Barclays Center? Not 150-200, as announced four days ago, but just 105, as explained in Community Board presentation

Atlantic Yards Report

At the April 26 press conference on a promised 2000 jobs at the Barclays Center, officials said that 150-200 of the jobs would be full-time.

In fact, the New York Daily News reported that "some 90%" would be part-time, indicating approximately 200 full-time jobs, and the New York Post reported 200 full-time jobs.

Actually, according to a presentation prepared by Forest City Ratner and delivered tonight to a committee of Community Board 6, the company estimates only 105 full-time jobs, plus 1901 part-time jobs.

Even if the numbers are approximate, that's a dramatic difference.

Though some of the CB members were cordially inquisitive during the lightly attended meeting, given the board's experience with promises from Ikea, nobody brought up the discrepancy between the numbers in the presentation and the numbers mentioned last week.
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Questions

Would people with criminal records be hired?

"We weigh each case separately," said AEG's David Anderson, who noted that the firm does background checks.

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NoLandGrab: That question was a little off-base — the criminal records usually come while people are ON Forest City Ratner's payroll.

Posted by eric at 10:22 PM

PHNDC asks Cuomo, Bloomberg to stop construction of arena parking lot before public input, notes plans have been delayed for nearly six months

Atlantic Yards Report

We've been asking for the whole project to get scotched for eight years.

In a last-minute effort, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) sent a letter today to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Mike Bloomberg asking them to suspend construction tomorrow of a planned arena patron surface parking lot on the southeast block of the project, bounded by Vanderbilt Avenue, Carlton Avenue, Dean Street and Pacific Street.

The organization includes several block and neighborhood organizations in Prospect Heights.

The issues include City Planning standards; storm water drainage; curb cuts; and the role of stackers or multi-story parking--and the continued delays regarding plans for the lot.

Continued delays

The letter notes that plans have delayed repeatedly:

Representatives of the Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] and Forest City Ratner Companies originally stated that plans for the lot would be provided in December 2011 and that there would be a period of community review and comment. We have recently been notified construction of the surface parking lot will begin May 1 and that plans will be made public May 22. In the meantime, the parking lot will have been under construction for three weeks.

Residences surround the parking lot, and because it is separated from Barclays Center by two avenues, arena patrons and arena related vehicles will be channeled past bedrooms and playground using neighborhood streets and sidewalks.

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NoLandGrab: Anyone care to guess what Status Cuomo's response might be?

Posted by eric at 10:15 PM

Hello Brooklyn! Branding proceeds! Brooklyn Nets ballcaps cost $26

Atlantic Yards Report

Hello Suckers!

I'll have a lot more from the Brooklyn Nets' branding event later, but first, a fundamental fact: ballcaps at Modell's cost $26.

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Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, Brooklyn Nets Tickets Giveaway + new logo

Who'd drop 26 bucks on an ugly hat like that?

Posted by eric at 1:17 PM

Reporter tests route from Jersey to Brooklyn; results may vary after arena opens

Atlantic Yards Report

The (Bergen) Record's John Brennan decided to test the route from longtime New Jersey Nets territory to the team's new home in Brooklyn.

Turns out that, after leaving at 5:10 pm from Paramus, he and a photographer managed to make it to Brooklyn, park, and be outside the arena at 6:30 pm—"a full hour before our imaginary tipoff and, frankly, a lot sooner than we expected."

He recognized, however, several caveats:

  • traffic will be a lot worse on a real game night
  • parking costs will rise
  • the "4,400 spaces" that the Nets say are within an “8 to 10 block radius” of the arena may be filled by others.

I'd add that the team has not exactly identified those spaces, as the long-promised Transportation Demand Management plan has been delayed yet again, until May 22.

Brennan noted that public transportation would take less than 90 minutes each way. Right now, that looks more costly--$12.50 each, plus $7 for parking--but I suspect it would be cheaper after parking prices in Brooklyn rise.

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Related content...

Bergen Record, A guide for fans who would follow the Nets to Brooklyn

If you still want to see the Nets in their new home, there’s a way to get there within 90 minutes from our Westfield Garden State Plaza starting point — although it requires a compromise for car lovers.

Drive to the Secaucus Junction rail station, pay $7 to park at the Edison lot after 4 p.m., and buy an $8 round-trip ticket to New York Penn Station.

It’s easy and fast — a 10-minute ride, and at rush hour you won’t wait long for a train to take you there. Then take a 22-minute ride ($2.25 one way) on the No. 2 or 3 subway line to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station.

Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

23 Successful People Who Wake Up Really Early

Business Insider

Of course, one should take everything that comes out of the pie hole of Brett Yormark with a grain of salt, given the self-described early-bird's apparent lack of sleep.

The youngest CEO in the NBA told SellingPower that he gets up at 3:30 in the morning in order to get to the office by 4:30. From there, he works out and sends motivational emails to his team.

Those motivational emails appear to be lacking efficacy. Perhaps Yormark should try these.

He takes it easy on the weekends, arriving at the office by 7 a.m. instead.

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NoLandGrab: Yormark's alleged routine sounds downright lazy compared to George H.W. Bush's — which might explain his one-term presidency.

Photo: Crain's NY Business

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Yormark: Jay-Z is "creator" of new logo; promotional video claims "neighborhood is family and loyalty never goes away"

Atlantic Yards Report

Jay-Z, apparently is the "author" and "creator" of the new Nets' logos, Brett Yormark, CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center, told CNBC's Darren Rovell in a live interview. [NLG: CNBC is Yormark's go-to outlet for softball interviews.]

I wouldn't bet that the hip-hop star/entrepreneur/producer/"cultural icon" really drew it up, rather than helped choose from competing suggestions. Yormark called the black-and-white motif a major change from the red, white, and blue of the previous logo, and noted it was the only black-and-white one in the league.

One logo is a shield containing a basketball and the letter "B." The other is a circle with a "B" on a basketball, ringed by "Brooklyn" and "New York."

Yormark, asked by Rovell about principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov's promise of a championship in five years, pivoted and said suites had sold at 75% (really?) and sponsorships were going great.

He didn't specify, but, in late March, Forest City Enterprises reported that "64 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the [Barclays Center] arena are currently under contract."

Here's the promotional video — the Nets believe "neighborhood is family," apparently; people surely feel better when their brother trumps up a blight study and their mom drives the bulldozer that knocks down their (former) home.

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Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

POLL: Brooklyn Nets' Takeover

SB Nation
by Tom Ziller

The Oakland Raiders Brooklyn Nets are officially revealing their "new" logo today.

It did not take long for the Nets to push forward with their new identity, which is the smart thing: they weren't getting any more mileage out of their Jersey-focused brand. As of Monday, it became All Brooklyn Everything for the club as the team unveiled their logos, colors and fan gear ... everything except the jerseys.

The one on the right will be at center court at Barclays Center, per CNBC's Darren Rovell. The Nets will also be unique in another way: They are the only NBA team whose colors are solely black and white.

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NoLandGrab: Whatever one thinks of the jerseys, sending opponents to the free-throw line more often really won't help the already woeful Nets.

Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

New-look Nets open for Brooklyn business

NY Post
by Tim Bontemps

Hello, Brooklyn!

At midnight, the Nets officially ended their 35 years in New Jersey and became the Brooklyn Nets, finally completing a move that has been several years in the making.

“It’s very exciting to be moving on and heading to [Brooklyn],” said Brook Lopez, who will be among those on hand when the team officially unveils its new color scheme and logos this morning at an event near its new home, the Barclays Center. “I’m very anxious. ... I’d love to get it started right now.

“I think it’s something that’s going to have a ton of new energy, great energy, and something many people are going to want to be a part of.”

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Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

Nets Lose Mostly Meaningless Coin Flip, Ensuring Franchise Will Probably Suck Forever

NetsAreScorching
by Devin Kharpertian

The Brooklyn Nets lost a coin flip to give one of 1,000 combinations of ping pong balls to the Sacramento Kings, confirming to the world that the franchise is a complete and abject failure, and that no fan should ever have any reason to root for such a pathetic team.

In dropping from the juggernaut 7.6% odds of winning the lottery to the pathetic 7.5%, the Nets guaranteed that Anthony Davis will never play for the team, Deron Williams will bolt for Dallas, Brook Lopez will tear both his arms off at the shoulders, Billy King will trade Atlantic Avenue for DeSagana Diop, and the team’s practice facility will spontaneously combust on the eve of the team’s first preseason game.

Upon hearing the Nets now have just a 25.3% chance of keeping their pick (as opposed to the once-possible 25.4%), Mikhail Prokhorov immediately sold the team back to Bruce Ratner for an iPhone charger and two pairs of XXL sweatpants autographed by Kerry Kittles.

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Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

Hooters Reportedly "Desperate" To Bring Boobs To Park Slope

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

According to reports the chain has made unsuccessful plays for multiple properties in the area.

"I think they [Hooters] desperately want to open in the neighborhood, but I don’t think they’re going to on North Flatbush," Sharon Davidson, director of the North Flatbush BID, told Prospect Heights Patch when she confirmed that the restaurant had tried to get in at both the Triangle Sports building (across from the Atlantic Yards) and the Pintchik Paint and Hardware building a little further over.

We've contacted Hooters regarding their interest in the area, but have yet to hear back. Considering the upcoming arrival of the Nets—not to mention those Canz waitress poachers—we understand why they'd want to expand their foothold in the city beyond Midtown. They do have good wings.

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Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

April 29, 2012

Mike Bloomberg: It's "education inequality," not "income inequality" (Really?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Mike Bloomberg is a brilliantly successful businessman, who tends not to dither making decisions. As mayor, such certainties have served him both well and poorly.

Indeed, he is a man so suffused with confidence that he could say, as he did April 26 at the Barclays Center press conference, that the arena was built for hockey, even though exactly the opposite is true. Or, choosing not to know--or find out--how many full-time equivalent jobs would be provided by the 2000 arena jobs promised, he got testy, rather than answer a reasonable question.

Bloomberg on inequality

And Bloomberg could offer a theory about inequality in this country, one that certainly would become controversial should he follow the entreaties of columnist Thomas Friedman and reconsider running for president as an independent.

"Will the people without a great skill-set have jobs that are high-paying?" Bloomberg soliloquized at the press conference, responding to questions about low-wage jobs. "Probably not. In this country, we talk about an income inequality. It is not an income inequality. It is an education inequality. And the example you should look at is: why does it take a two-breadwinner family today to be middle class, where 40-50 years ago, it was a one-breadwinner family that could do exactly that."

"And the reason is all in education," Bloomberg continued. "If you look, other countries are starting to have great schools, great universities, great public schools. And they are becoming much more productive at a much greater rate than we are doing in America. We stopped improving our productivity 20-30 years ago, and the education system started going downhill, and certainly not growing and improving as fast as the rest of the world. And that's really what you see out there, and it's a great challenge, and the answer is to go back to the basics, education, and in the meantime getting people the experience they need, and working."

Hold on. Doesn't the United States have the best universities in the world? Isn't the issue a little more complicated? Hasn't productivity been doing pretty well? Maybe the issue, as economist Dean Baker points out, is the distribution of the gains from productivity growth.

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Posted by steve at 10:44 PM

April 28, 2012

Brand identity: filling the empty vessel of the Brooklyn Nets "sports entertainment corporation" with new logo and colors

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Nets are set to unveil their new logo and colors at 10 am Monday, according to the Star-Ledger.

The location?

Ironically enough, the Modell's Sporting Goods store opposite the Barclays Center arena and Atlantic Terminal mall, on a plot of land known as Site 5 that is destined to be part of the Atlantic Yards project, housing a 25-story building that would displace Modell's and its neighbor, P.C. Richard.

That logo would fill the shield outlined in the #HelloBrooklyn campaign that began earlier in the week.

And as Deadspin and later Gothamist reported, the logo has leaked, emphasizing the name "Nets" with a "B" superimposed over a basketball.

It's a big deal in this Sports world, this big reveal, and big deal in Brooklyn. People are buying #HelloBrooklyn merch, and surely Nets caps and t-shirts will begin selling, to Brooklynites and wannabes, especially when pushed by trend-setters like Jay-Z. (What, principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov won't be modeling the merch?)

One snarky comment, on the Daily Beast:

Looks like some lazy designer said "Y'know who had a great logo? The Brooklyn Dodgers. Y'know who had a great color scheme? The Raiders."

By contrast, BigLeadSports, which supplied the photos below, called it "gorgeous."

Blind brand loyalty?

But what does it mean to support a hometown team when you don't even know what the team will be? Are people just "rooting for the clothes," as Jerry Seinfeld said?

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Posted by steve at 5:41 PM

North Flatbush BID: No Hooters on Flatbush Avenue

Atlantic Yards Report

A tweet from the North Flatbush Business Improvement District:

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Posted by steve at 5:35 PM

Barclays Center Jobs Announcement a Big Win, or No Big Deal?

Bed-Stuy Patch
By Paul Leonard

At face value, an announcement Thursday that developer Forest City Ratner planned to create 2,000 jobs to be filled by public housing and local residents was good news for the borough's unemployed.

However, as the details came in, the picture got a whole lot murkier.

As Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, pointed out in a statement, many of the jobs to be offered at the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center are part-time and in traditionally low paid employment sectors including janitorial, food service and ticket sales.

Forest City Ratner later admitted that the "full-time equivalent" number of positions pegged to Thursday's announcement was actually closer to 1,240.

That seems a far cry from the scores of well paying jobs promised before the city approved plans for Atlantic Yards redevelopment and construction on Barclays Center began.

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Posted by steve at 5:31 PM

Some Residents Fear Sidewalks Won’t Be Able To Handle Crowds From Barclays Center

CBS New York

When 18,000 spectators pour out of a Nets game at the new Barclays Center, the sidewalks in downtown Brooklyn won’t be able to contain the crowds, advocates claim.

A report by the Atlantic Yards Watch found 86 percent of the sidewalks are narrower than the state originally claimed when the Atlantic Yards project got started.

“On Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenues the sidewalk was assessed to be an effective width of 10.5 feet but it’s really got an effective width of 3.5 feet,” Peter Krashes, of Atlantic Yards Watch, said.

Some are concerned crowds will spill into the streets posing a safety hazard and further tying up traffic in an area already jammed with cars and cabs.

“If you go to other arenas you can see how people react when sidewalks aren’t big enough, they go into the street,” resident David Goldstein said. “That’s a safety issue.”

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Posted by steve at 5:27 PM

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Showcases ‘Rumur Films’ Thursdays In May

Brooklyn Heights Blog
By Chuck Taylor

The Brooklyn Heights Cinema will showcase the “Rumur Films Retrospective” each Thursday evening in May, featuring five flicks by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, the pair behind Brooklyn-based production studio Rumur.

Galinsky & Hawley have been making innovative social documentaries for two decades, including 2011’s “Battle for Brooklyn” (showing at BHC May 31), a 93-minute doc that, according to New York magazine, shows “how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight.” Their other films comprise 1994’s “Half-Cocked” (May 3), 1999’s “Radiation” (May 10), 2002’s “Horns and Halos” (May 17) and 2005’s “Code 33” (May 24).

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Posted by steve at 5:23 PM

April 27, 2012

Caption Contest

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn via Facebook

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Photo: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News

Posted by eric at 3:16 PM

Ratner, Bloomberg provoke little skepticism about "2,000 jobs" announcement; recruitment efforts begin next week; Ratner admits more potential delay on first building

Atlantic Yards Report

The press conference yesterday regarding jobs (press release) at the Barclays Center was mostly a success for Mayor Mike Bloomberg and developer Bruce Ratner, whom the mayor referred to as "a neighbor of mine, a friend of mine."

First, many media outlets provided the understandably dramatic visuals of the structure, as shown in the first video below that I shot, and Bloomberg's endorsement of the tight seating bowl.

And most media outlets reported, with relatively little skepticism, the claim that there would be 2,000 jobs at the arena, with recruitment focused on the neighborhoods and housing projects near the site.

Also note that Ratner nudged back the goalposts for the first residential building yet again, suggesting it could start either later next year or early next year.
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Press coverage

The New York Times, which had two reporters there, didn't cover the press conference (yet). The Daily News reported there would be "2,000 jobs... some 90% of them part-time," but didn't clarify--despite the reporter's tweet--that it would mean 1,240 FTE.

The New York Post focused on remarks Borough President Marty Markowitz made in response to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but did mention the 1,240 number.

(The Post in January, presumably citing information provided by Forest City Ratner, predicted 1500 full and part-time workers. When asked about those numbers yesterday, Ratner said, "I don't where you got the 1500... at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena.... on a major event.")

Metro didn't specify the number of jobs but did--unlike nearly every other press outlet--quote a statement issued later by Council Member Letitia James, which strikes me as on target, that most of the jobs "will do little to address the rising poverty in the borough."

Patch quoted the 2,000 figure as well as my pre-meeting reference to the state's projection of 1,120 FTE jobs. NY1 cited 2,000 jobs and some debate over the living wage, but didn't drill down. ABC was enthusiastic, with no skepticism. Ditto for Newsday.

The Observer focused on naming the Nets. amNY quoted skepticism from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn but not the 1,240 figure. The Village Voice cited the interaction I had with Bloomberg.

Gothamist didn't quote the FTE numbers but stressed:

Forest City Ratner is promising to "report quarterly on the number of employees and the neighborhoods that they are from." All the arena-haters noted that for future reference? Good.

Gothamist apparently doesn't know about the developer's long-delayed obligation to hire an Independent Compliance Monitor. The Epoch Times did focus on the questionable job numbers.

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Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

Daily Intel: "Bloomberg Promises 2,000 Jobs at the Barclays Center, Sort of" (with video)

Atlantic Yards Report

Here's the video of the question I posed to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, which didn't get an answer from him and provoked a joke from developer Bruce Ratner.

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Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bloomberg Displays Ignorance & Petulance About Atlantic Yards. Bruce Ratner Makes Snide Joke

Today Mayor Bloomberg was at the Barclays/Prohorov/Ratner arena site with Bruce Ratner and Markowitz to tout 2,000 jobs coming to the arena.

Of course 2,000 jobs aren't coming to the arena, and needless to say the photo op was absent of details and substance. But when Norman Oder asked the Mayor a question about the validity of that number, the Mayor responded with mocking, petulant ignorance, and his buddy Bruce Ratner made a snide joke.

What neither did was answer the pertinent question about job figures—how could they when they come out of thin air.

@ShellySilver via Twitter, Gotta hand it to Bruce

Posted by eric at 2:04 PM

Bloomberg Promises 2,000 Jobs at the Barclays Center, Sort Of

Daily Intel [NYMagazine.com]
by Norman Oder

Mayor Bloomberg was at the under-construction Barclays Center arena this morning to announce a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, with locals and residents of nearby housing projects given priority.

Developer Bruce Ratner, whose firm Forest City Ratner is building the Barclays Center, was enthusiastic but parsimonious with details. He said about 90 percent of the jobs will be part-time, up to 30 hours a week, with the remainder full-time. Ticket-takers and drink slingers don't work every day, and Ratner acknowledged that "at any one time, we'll have at most 800 people in the arena ... on a major event.

So, what would be the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, a not uncommon measure?

"I don't have any idea what that is," responded the famously data-driven mayor.

It was pointed out to him that the Empire State Development Corporation estimated FTE employment at 1,120.

"The state can say anything they want," responded Bloomberg testily. "I don't know."

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Posted by eric at 1:54 PM

Will streets/sidewalks near arena be overwhelmed? Bloomberg responds confidently: "not really something that's going to happen"

Atlantic Yards Report

Mike Bloomberg, urban planner.

At this morning's press conference on jobs at the Barclays Center, Mayor Mike Bloomberg was asked a question that seemed animated by the recent report, from Atlantic Yards Watch, that the sidewalks near the arena were far smaller than as measured by the state--portending trouble for neighborhood and arena-goers alike.

"Many residents in the area say they're worried that the streets, the quiet brownstone tree-lined streets will be swamped with people on game days and other event days," asked New York Times reporter Joseph Berger, "and that the city and state have done very little to make sure the streets can handle both the car traffic and the pedestrian traffic."

Bloomberg answered confidently. "Well, most people here are going to be on the main streets. Most of the people are going to come by mass transit," he said. "This mass transit to this stadium is equivalent to the mass transit under Madison Square Garden."

"So I don't think those fears are going to be--I think people will realize that's not really something that's going to happen," Bloomberg said confidently, with no acknowledgment of the specific situation at hand.

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Posted by eric at 1:49 PM

Nets ended New Jersey era with 98-67 loss at Toronto Raptors

AP via NJ.com

Can you feel the excitement, Brooklyn?!!!

Ben Uzoh had 12 points, a career-high 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and the Toronto Raptors routed New Jersey 98-67 in Thursday night's season finale, a loss that slightly improves the Nets' chances in the NBA draft lottery.
...

Anthony Morrow and Armon Johnson each had 11 points, and Gerald Green and Jordan Williams added 10 apiece as the Nets lost their fifth straight and set a season low for points. The defeat ensured the Nets will finish last in the Atlantic division, one game behind Toronto.

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Posted by eric at 12:57 PM

Brooklyn Heights Cinema Showcases ‘Rumur Films’ Thursdays In May

Brooklyn Heights Blog
by Chuck Taylor

The Brooklyn Heights Cinema will showcase the “Rumur Films Retrospective” each Thursday evening in May, featuring five flicks by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, the pair behind Brooklyn-based production studio Rumur.

Galinsky & Hawley have been making innovative social documentaries for two decades, including 2011’s “Battle for Brooklyn” (showing at BHC May 31), a 93-minute doc that, according to New York magazine, shows “how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight.” Their other films comprise 1994’s “Half-Cocked” (May 3), 1999’s “Radiation” (May 10), 2002’s “Horns and Halos” (May 17) and 2005’s “Code 33” (May 24).

Kenn Lowy’s Brooklyn Heights Cinema is located at 70 Henry Street. More information is available here, with synopses of their films here.

link

NoLandGrab: You can also catch the film tonight, at Brown Memorial Baptist Church.

Posted by eric at 12:43 PM

Yup, This IS The New Brooklyn Nets Logo

Gothamist
by Ben Yakas

During this morning's Barclays Center jobs press conference, everyone was whispering about the new logo, a photograph of which was circulating yesterday. Although Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz wouldn't comment on it directly ("I don't know, we'll see"), our sources confirmed that it is indeed the logo. As for the team keeping the Nets name, Markowitz said he wasn't that concerned: "As long as the first part of the name is Brooklyn!"
...

The Nets will officially unveil their Brooklyn "brand identity" Monday at 10 a.m. at Modell’s Sporting Goods across the street from Barclays Center.

link

Posted by eric at 12:36 PM

Ratner: Wait and see on Isles to Barclays

Newsday
by Roderick Boone

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner didn't shoot down the possibility of the Islanders taking up residence at the Nets' new home in Brooklyn once their lease expires at Nassau Coliseum in 2015.

"Charles Wang is a friend," Ratner said of the Islanders owner Thursday at the arena after announcing a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the new facility with local residents. "I talk to him all the time. We've talked for years and I think the major call is to make sure, first, the team stays in New York State.

"After that we'll see what happens," added Ratner, who is the chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.
...

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attended the event with Ratner Thursday, danced around the idea of whether the Islanders should move from Hempstead Turnpike to the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. The arena holds roughly 14,500 people in its hockey configuration.

"That's up to the Barclays Center to try to attract people," Bloomberg said. "This is an arena that is built so they can have hockey here, and the more teams that are in New York, the better they are.

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NoLandGrab: If by "built so they can have hockey here" the Mayor meant "with awful sightlines and the rink crammed into one end of the arena in such a fashion that no NHL team would ever play anything but exhibitions here," then yes, the Barclays Center was built for hockey.

Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

Community Board 6 committee urges restrictions on variance request for apartment building planned for Bergen Tile site across from arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Not so fast, a Community Board 6 committee said last night to those planning an apartment building at the Bergen Tile site across from the Barclays Center arena, mainly on busy Flatbush Avenue but also extending around to lower-scale--and quiet, for now--Dean Street.

The Landmarks/Land Use Committee urged restrictions on a developer's request for a variance to add density and eliminate parking from a six-story apartment building with nearly 55 units.
...

While Atlantic Yards was brought up only a few times, it remains a context. Reprising remarks he made at another committee meeting earlier this week, board member Lou Sones observed, "A lot of people in this neighborhood have been basically screwed."

Either they were kicked out by eminent domain or are inundated by bars, he said, adding, "It was a lose-lose for everybody in the area."

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Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

Triangle Sports Sold, ‘Neighborhood-Friendly’ Restaurant Coming In

The 97-year-old business across from Atlantic Yards will be closing its doors within weeks.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

After just three months on the market, the iconic Triangle Sports building across from Atlantic Yards has been sold.

Owner Henry Rosa declined to name the buyer until the contract is completed, but confirmed that the new business will be “neighborhood friendly.”
...

According to Sharon Davidson, director of the North Flatbush BID, there was a bidding war and the top five bidders were all restaurants. She said one of them was Hooters, but Rosa confirmed that Hooters is not the buyer.

Hooters also approached the nearby Pintchik Paint and Hardware about selling, but the hardware store turned them down, Davidson said, adding, "I think they (Hooters) desperately want to open in the neighborhood, but I don’t think they’re going to on North Flatbush."

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Posted by eric at 12:08 PM

Former State Senator Is Sentenced to 7 Years in Vast Bribery Case

The New York Times
by Benjamin Weiser

Sorry you won't be at the Barc for opening night, Carl. Don't forget to write!

Carl Kruger, the once-powerful New York State senator from Brooklyn who resigned his office in disgrace and pleaded guilty to corruption charges in December, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday by a federal judge in Manhattan.

Mr. Kruger, 62, was the first defendant to be sentenced in a widespread bribery conspiracy case that originally ensnared eight people, and was seen as offering yet more evidence of the apparently unending wave of corruption in Albany.

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NoLandGrab: Albany... and Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

April 26, 2012

Barclays Center building aims for transparency, but Atlantic Yards project evades it: transportation plan, parking details delayed until late May

Atlantic Yards Report

The buzzword for the Barclays Center arena, insists developer Bruce Ratner in the New York Post exclusive video below, is transparency: transparency from the street, where passersby will be able to see the scoreboard, and from the concourses, where attendees will not be obstructed from the action at hand.

However much transparency may be a design feature, it is most assuredly not a feature of the overall Atlantic Yards project.

Release of the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, aimed to push arena attendees toward public transportation rather than cars, had been delayed yet again, to May 22, given the re-scheduling of the planned Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting from May 3.

No explanation was issued for the rescheduling. That means, for example, that Forest City Ratner's plans for the interim surface parking lot, on which construction starts May 1, will not be revealed until three weeks later.

Forest City can build a lot up to 1,100 spaces, but the larger capacity would require stackers, which neighbors believe would add noise and delay. (I asked the developer yesterday for an update, and was told it would be issued at the meeting.)

Dismay over delay

Local elected officials and community stakeholders have already expressed dismay over the delays--and this adds to that.

The TDM plan was originally supposed to be released in December, then was delayed until February, then delayed until May--early May.

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NoLandGrab: If anyone can come up with a promise kept by Forest City Ratner, please let us know.

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

Regarding Kemistry liquor license application, Millman sends SLA letter urging recognition of concerns about bottle service and closing times

Atlantic Yards Report

Assemblywoman Joan Millman has backed Prospect Place residents' concerns about the pending state liquor license application from Kemistry Lounge, which on April 23 received a thumbs-down advisory vote from a committee of Community Board Six.

According to her April 24 letter to the State Liquor Authority (below), Millman is concerned about:

1) Bottle service: Kemistry Lounge wishes to be the second establishment in Brooklyn to offer bottle service. Bottle service drastically increases patrons’ incentive to drink and promotes dangerous levels of drunkenness.

2) Closing times: This establishment abuts a quiet residential block and is located near two day-care centers. A set of reasonable closing times must be established.

The proprietors and neighbors are far apart on the issue of closing times; for example, the former have requested a 3:30 am cutoff on weekends, while residents, as well as the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, asked for 2 am.

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Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Concerns Mount Over Barclays Center Sidewalks

Recently released survey of Atlantic Yards project finds less space for crowds than originally thought.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Paul Leonard

Much worry has already been expressed about the expected crush of passenger cars in the wake of Barclays Center's planned opening in September.

But now longtime critics of the project are sounding the alarm over another potential traffic jam—this time of the pedestrian kind.

Atlantic Yards Watch posted the results of a survey Tuesday finding that Barclays' Final Environmental Impact Statement may have overstated the width of sidewalk at several key areas of egress at the 18,000-seat arena.

Among the sidewalk locations found to be narrower than previously disclosed were areas abutting Barclays' Dean Street entrance, around a walkway leading to city subways and those leading to the arena's off-site stacked parking lot.

article

Related coverage...

mcbrookyn, Botched Sidewalk Widths Could Mean Crowd-Control Nightmare for Barclays Center

A critical measurement used in the formula to assess sidewalk capacity was regularly used incorrectly in the FEIS, according to AYW. As a result, the capacity of more than 86 percent of the sidewalks in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) are overstated.

For example: The sidewalk on Dean Street that will be used by arena patrons to walk from the arena parking lot to the arena has an effective width of 3.2 feet instead of the 11.5 feet disclosed in the FEIS. This margin of error is typical, not the exception.

NoLandGrab: The real question is whether the sidewalk measurements in the FEIS were truly an error, or a fraud.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

Bloomberg set to announce " a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center"; FTE, according to state, would be 1,120

Atlantic Yards Report

From City & State First Read's daybook:

11 a.m. – Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

Is that 2,000 positions or 2,000 full-time jobs? In 2005, they were proposing 400 jobs. The state's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) estimated 1,120 full-time equivalent positions.

Presumably many of the jobs are low-skilled part-time jobs, with relatively low wages and benefits that differ significantly those accompanying full-time jobs.

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Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

In today's Times, the lead story regards loss of $19M (or so) taxpayer funds; compare that to coverage of the MTA deal

Atlantic Yards Report

From today's New York Times, lead story, headlined Company Admits It Bilked Clients on Big Projects:

The giant construction company that worked on Citi Field, the renovation of Grand Central Terminal and scores of other high-profile projects has admitted to a huge fraud scheme in which it overbilled clients for more than a decade and has agreed to pay $56 million in fines and restitution to avoid criminal charges, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

...The scheme carried out by the company defrauded government agencies and private developers of about $19 million, much of it tax money, Ms. Lynch said at a news conference. She was joined by officials from several other agencies to announce a deferred-prosecution agreement.

But the amount is most likely far higher because prosecutors said they believed that Lend Lease conducted the practice for decades and that it extended to other companies.

So, um, some $19 million, most of it tax money, was misappropriated? That's news.

But when Forest City Ratner renegotiates a deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to save much more than that--well, that's buried in an un-bylined short.

Yes, one's a crime and the other a politically freighted negotiation. But there's a similar bottom line: a cost to the public, and a private gain.

link

NoLandGrab: Stealing is stealing, whether it's sanctioned by government or not.

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

April 25, 2012

Public hearing tomorrow on plan for Bergen Tile site at Flatbush and Dean

Atlantic Yards Report

A committee of Brooklyn Community Board 6 will hold a public hearing tomorrow at 6 pm regarding the application for an apartment building at the Bergen Tile site, at the corner of the north side of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street opposite the Barclays Center (which is referred to as the southeast corner).

The applicant wants to waive required parking, which has caused community pushback, given the expected arena-related parking crunch, with no provision for residential permit parking. Then again, as surely will be argued, the site is very close to public transit, and parking requirements are increasingly seen as antiquated.

link

Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

The Perfect Name for Brooklyn's Team

The Wall Street Journal
by Jason Gay

The Nets are done with Jersey. That is that. They wrapped their final semester-at-sea in Newark with a stinker loss to Philadelphia Monday; Net-loather Chris Christie did not wander out to mid-court and warble Elvis Costello's "I Hope You're Happy Now"; there was no high-speed, 50-Ferrari trooper escort to the Verrazano Bridge. They have a road game left at Toronto, but the Nets belong to Brooklyn. Time to blow out the beards, guys. Grow them fuzzy and 19th century.

I am panicky about this team. They're going to be playing down the street, so I want them to be fun, but they're not very good, and they may lose their best player, Deron Williams, to free agency. The Nets will get a honeymoon in Brooklyn but it may be brief. If the team is a stink-bomb it will turn into the worst kind of smart-alecky joke; there's too much happening in this borough for fans to stay loyal through years of misery.

But right away, there's something else that these Brooklyn Nets are bungling and it has to be said.

The nickname has to go.

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Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Dean Street Squeeze (and more) documented: Atlantic Yards Watch shows width of sidewalks was overestimated, says narrow nature requires response

Atlantic Yards Report

Yes, the sidewalks around the Atlantic Yards project site are quite narrow, and that could be a problem.

Atlantic Yards Watch has compiled some thorough research, illustrated with a video and photos (by David Power) on how Overestimated sidewalk widths may spell trouble for arena patrons and residents alike.

(I wrote about the Dean Street Squeeze in June 2010, pointing out how it was clear the sidewalks were too tight for crowds, but AY Watch has done much more analysis.)

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Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

The Barclays Center and Local Businesses

Journographica Class Blogs
by Adrian Szkolar

A Stony Brook University journalism student looks at small business hopes for a positive arena effect.

With the New Jersey Nets set to relocate to Brooklyn this upcoming September, local businesses have a sense of hope that with fans flocking to the games, there will be more potential customers.
...

“I’m positive there is some impact,” said Asandoh Jones, an instructor at New York Chess and Games, a local chess shop on Flatbrush Avenue which mainly relies on revenue from chess lessons. “The question is, we’re wondering how good it will be for business, it certainly can’t hurt.”

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NoLandGrab: Jobs, Housing & Chess!

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

No ‘Kemistry’ — Slope group votes no on club’s liquor license

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

A proposed nightclub called Kemistry Lounge features some bad elements, according to a civic group representing Brownstone Brooklyn.

A Community Board 6 committee voted unanimously on Monday to reject a liquor license request for a sprawling Flatbush Avenue venue near the soon-to-open Barclays Center after neighbors complained it would bring noise and nuisance to the community.

The proposed live music venue — which wants to offer bottle service and dancing — would keep nearby residents awake at all hours and bombard a neighborhood that’s already oversaturated with boozy nightlife establishments, committee members said.

“People in the area feel more and more put upon — there’s been a cumulative element when it comes to liquor license applications,” said CB6’s Gary Reilly.

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NoLandGrab: No doubt the Empire State Development Corporation believes that liquor license applications near the Barclays Center are at "acceptable levels."

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Crime Report: More Thieves at Ratner’s Atlantic Malls

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

It was another busy week for the cops in the 88th Precinct, what with continuing crime from both of Bruce Ratner’s malls, the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal, whose safety and security were the subject of a big analysis last week on The Local.
...

More Crime at Atlantic Center

A woman was beaten and mugged inside the Atlantic Center Mall on April 19, the latest incident at the crime-ridden shopping center.

The victim told cops that she was inside the shopping center, near the intersection at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues at around 4:40 p.m. when a thug approached and punched her. In the ensuing confusion, he grabbed her bag, which contained books and a cellphone charger, and fled.

More Crime at Atlantic Terminal

Two shoplifters were arrested for taking more than $1,500 in goods from the Target department store inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall on April 22, cops said, the latest incident at the crime-ridden shopping center.

Police said that the two men — ages 36 and 38 — attempted to leave the Flatbush Avenue store with undisclosed items at around 7:20 p.m., but were quickly apprehended.

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Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

April 24, 2012

Overestimated sidewalk widths may spell trouble for arena patrons and residents alike

Atlantic Yards Watch

If you ever had any doubt that AKRF was hired to produce the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement for any reason other than that they would produce a document greasing the skids for the project, let this put that notion to rest.

Unlike nearly every other arena and stadium in the country, Barclays Center is fit tightly inside residential neighborhoods. It is largely surrounded by one way local streets and residential-width sidewalks, not the highways and commercial-width sidewalks that serve most other facilities of its kind.

Changes to the project have resulted in less capacity for travel lanes, lay by-lanes and sidewalks than was originally analyzed in the project's environmental impact statement. Now, a survey by AYW confirms the sidewalks in the vicinity of Atlantic Yards also have less capacity for pedestrians than the project's environmental analysis anticipates. The study finds that a critical measurement used in the formula to assess sidewalk capacity by the State was regularly used incorrectly in the FEIS. As a result, the capacity of more than 86% of the sidewalks in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) are overstated, often by significant margins.

This is a concern because sidewalks created to accomodate local residents and patrons of small scale retail businesses will now have to handle the surging crowds of an 18,000-seat arena. Narrower effective widths mean a higher risk of vehicle/pedestrian accidents on the streets surrounding the project exists than the FEIS identifies. And the sidewalks will simply be less desirable to use.

article

Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Sidewalks around Atlantic Yards project too narrow for Barclays Center crowds, report finds

Sidewalks around the Atlantic Yards project are too narrow to hold massive crowds from the new Nets arena, advocates charge.

They found in a new report that 86% of the sidewalks are actually narrower than state officials claimed when they approved the project.

“We took a tape measure and went down exactly the same sidewalks and measured them, and we came up with totally different numbers,” said Peter Krashes of Atlantic Yards Watch, which measured 22 sidewalks and found they were an average of 4.5 feet narrower than the state claimed in its environmental analysis. “The assessment is wildly off.”

State officials have said they used maps to come up with their numbers, rather than doing physical measurements.

But fear not, folks — the Empire State Development Corporation is satisfied.

Arana Hankin, Atlantic Yards director for the Empire State Development Corporation, said the agency’s consultants recently analyzed sidewalks around the arena site. “The analysis determined that pedestrian conditions operate at acceptable levels of service,” she said.

Posted by eric at 11:23 PM

The Nets Move

NY Daily News
by Bramhall

link

Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Nets bidding so long to New Jersey

For 35 years, a squad of hapless hoopsters called the Nets generally made a hash of professional ball, with a slew of losing seasons and lackluster “stars.” But since this took place in New Jersey, only seven people noticed.

That will be much harder when the Nets move to Brooklyn next season: No more stinking it up on a nightly basis — not with part owner Jay-Z in courtside seats and New York’s entire attention on the newest kid on a block occupied by standard-setters like the Yankees.

Posted by eric at 11:16 PM

Community Board 6 committee supports arena liquor license with stipulations; Veconi warns that the CB, which didn't take comments, gave up leverage

Atlantic Yards Report

At the end of a meeting that lasted more than three hours, including perhaps an hour devoted to the controversial Kemistry Lounge application, the Community Board 6 Public Safety/Environmental Protection/Permits/Licenses committee agreed to supports a liquor license for the Barclays Center subject to the same conditions under which Community Board 2 and its committee approved it.

That means that, while the applicant, Levy Premium Foodservice and Brooklyn Events Center, must set up a community liaison and also make sure the arena moves ahead with security, sanitation, transportation plans, there’s essentially no roadblock--not that it was assumed that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) would deny the application.

And while dozens of Prospect Place-area residents showed up to weigh in on Kemistry, there was virtually no one there to comment on the arena application, which provoked huge discussion two weeks earlier. (Those concerned about Kemistry didn't stick around.)

No public comment

Nor was public comment taken. That left Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, who has argued, for among other things, a cut-off in time for liquor sales, quite frustrated.

At the end of the meeting, Veconi approached committee chair Gary Reilly and said that, while the committee had been “doing a super job,” it was “unconscionable” to not take public comment and to approve a resolution with no enforceability.

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Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

Community Board 6 committee disapproves Kemistry Lounge liquor license application; would be second bottle-service club in the borough (video)

Atlantic Yards Report

After hearing passionate criticism about the planned Kemistry Lounge on Flatbush Avenue near Prospect Place, the Community Board 6 Public Safety/Environmental Protection/Permits/Licenses committee voted to disapprove a liquor license application, agreeing with concerns expressed about late night hours and what would be only the second bottle-service club in the borough--and the first one particularly close to residences.

Here's a summary of concerns from Prospect Place Neighbors, a new organization formed in response to the application, which points out that the location is within 500 feet of eight establishments with full liquor licenses and on a block with six storefronts of preschool facilities. (Here's their press kit.)

The lounge would be a few short blocks from the Barclays Center, clearly a generator of patrons.

The committee's vote is only advisory, and the State Liquor Authority (SLA) has the final call.

article

Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Community Board 6 Rejects Kemistry Lounge’s Liquor License Application

On Monday night, Community Board 6’s liquor license committee voted to reject Kemistry Lounge’s liquor license application, with a final vote of 12 in favor to reject, zero opposed and 2 abstentions.

Kemistry Lounge at 260 Flatbush Avenue, which is not open and still under construction, is located between Prospect Place and St Marks Avenue and plans to be a 225-person upscale lounge with bottle service at tables, a private party room with a dance floor in the basement and live music and DJs.

But the aspect that disturbed the residents of Prospect Place the most was the fact that the establishment runs from Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Place and has three large plate glass windows and an exit on to the residential street.
...

“There is going to be a lot less thump, thump, thumping than you guys think,” [Kemistry co-owner James] Brown said. “We are not a nightclub.”

But with bottle service, a 225-person capacity, live music and DJs, Lou Somes, a member of CB6, said it is hard to believe that Kemistry won’t at least be “like a club.”

“The bottom line is that it looks like a nightclub, it smells like a nightclub and I have a problem with having something like a nightclub in this area,” Somes said.

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: construction of surface parking lot to start May 1, but no details offered

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 4/23/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, contains little dramatic information but comes with one big gap.

Construction on the surface parking lot is to start 5/1/12, within this two-week period, and there was not detail offered beyond this bland description within a summary of work on Block 1129, the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site:

Contractor work related to digging test pits for soil sample classification took place from March 12 through March 14th. There is no other work currently on-going or scheduled prior to the construction start date of May 1, 2012 for surface parking lot.

That also appeared in the previous alert. Below are excerpts from the latest report. I've bolded the notable changes from the previous alert.

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Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Critic suggests Atlantic Yards "needed a Jane Jacobs to stop it;" I suggest that a failure of eloquence was by no means the largest failure

Atlantic Yards Report

Architecture critic Alexandra Lange, who wrote a devastating takedown of Nicolai Ouroussoff, talked about her new book Writing About Architecture with Project for Public Spaces. An excerpt from the discussion:

In the last chapter of my book I discuss Jane Jacobs, and how she might have reacted to the Atlantic Yards project. I think it needed a Jane Jacobs to stop it — an advocate as eloquent about the costs, and the alternatives, as those seductive Gehry renderings — and for whatever reason, one did not appear. But the activist spirit was by no means dead. It just got diffused into activist non-profits and activist blogs and activist essays. The diffused media landscape made it easier to follow the saga week by week, but perhaps made it harder for any one person to become the voice.

Norman Oder goes on to offer a bit of a rebuttal. And while Jane Jacobs was, well, Jane Jacobs, Daniel Goldstein has nothing to be ashamed about.

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Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

#HelloBrooklyn: get used to new Nets tag line and promotional phrase

Atlantic Yards Report

Goodbye, New Jersey...

After all the hype in the last few days regarding the Nets' last home game in New Jersey (they still go on the road), after that game, the Nets moved directly into Brooklyn mode.

The graphic at right appeared on the Nets' web site, and Nets/Barclays CEO Brett Yormark and others began tweeting with the #HelloBrooklyn hashtag.

link

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

The Final Buzzer for the New Jersey Nets

Uncle Mike's Musing

New Jersey Nets, born October 21, 1977, died April 23, 2012. Age 34.

Time of death, 9:55 PM. Cause of death: Murder, stabbed in the back by Bruce Ratner. Wound mortal, but death took 8 years.
...

Requiescat in pace.

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Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

76ers clinch playoff berth with win over Nets in final game in New Jersey

The Star-Ledger
by Colin Stephenson

The Nets ended the New Jersey years true to form.

The Sixers clinched a playoff berth with their 105-87 victory tonight, but the Nets fans did rise in the final 20 or so seconds and offer a standing ovation to the Nets.
...

The Nets (22-43) lost their fifth straight game — they haven’t won since beating the Sixers, against whom they were 2-2 this season, in Philadelphia April 13. They have one game remaining in the season, on Thursday in Toronto against the Raptors.

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NoLandGrab: But they'll be much better in Brooklyn, right?

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie not happy NJ Nets playing final game in Newark or move to Brooklyn

Governor won't attend final game, says: 'If you don’t want to stay, we don’t want you.'

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

As the Nets were preparing their farewell, the Governor of New Jersey was kicking them out the door.

Speaking after signing a bill in Newark, Gov. Chris Christie, a Newark native and Republican, was in typical unabashed form when asked about the Nets.

“I’m not going to the Nets game tonight and my message to the Nets is ‘Goodbye,’ ” Christie said. “If you don’t want to stay, we don’t want you. Seriously, I’m not going to be in the business of begging people to stay here. That’s one of the most beautiful arenas in America that they’ve had a chance to play in. It’s in one of the country’s most vibrant cities.

“They want to leave here and go to Brooklyn? Good riddance. See you later.”

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Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

NYU, NYC, MTA reach deal for 370 Jay Street

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

The MTA’s headquarters at 370 Jay Street will be a blight no more upon Downtown Brooklyn. After a decade of wrangling, political proclamations and unfunded plans to renovate the building, the MTA has agreed to surrender its lease on the building to the city, and in return, the city will provide NYU with the opportunity to turn the building into an applied sciences center in the heart of a rapidly growing neighborhood.
...

According to the Mayor’s Office, NYU will pay the MTA $50 million relocation expenses. The NYPD, another tenant, will receive $10 million. The university will then pay $1 per year in rent while receiving a series of tax breaks as well. That’s quite the deal for the city.
...

When NYU first announced its plans to open a science center in Brooklyn, the university originally offered the MTA $20 million to vacate its premises. The authority, no longer willing to roll over and die as it did with the Atlantic Yards air rights, dug in and asked for $50 million. With prodding from the Mayor, NYU gave in, and the MTA will begin to move out later this year.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Learning from the Vanderbilt Yard: MTA does not "roll over and die" when it makes Brooklyn deal with NYU

So, it looks like (too late) the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is doing better at negotiating than it did with Forest City Ratner.
...

I commented on Second Avenue Sagas to clarify that the MTA sold air rights to its Vanderbilt Yard, which were air rights for (part of) the Atlantic Yards project. Some people reading “the Atlantic Yards air rights” might think that the MTA property (8.5 acres) represented the entire 22-acre project.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Brett Yormark: “We wanted to bring a good product to Brooklyn. This team is bigger than one particular player.”

Sports Radio Interviews

From one bamboozler to another — excerpts from a recent Brett Yormark interview with WFAN's Boomer & Carton.

Is it bittersweet you are leaving New Jersey?

“Personally it is a little bittersweet. I grew up going down to the rack. I was a Nets fan since I was 10 years old, but obviously I came here seven years ago to take this team to Brooklyn and one thing we have been is open and honest to the fans.

And to the people of Brooklyn and New York's taxpayers (and judges), not so much.

How legitimate is it that the Barclays Center could host the New York Islanders? Is that legitimate?

“Yeah. I think so. We are going to test it a little bit in the fall on October 2nd when the Islanders play the Devils. We are very excited about it. In the first two weeks of tickets going on sale we sold over 6,000 seats, so there is a built in fan base in Brooklyn and we can accommodate hockey, NHL quality hockey at the Barclays Center. We are excited about that.”

You can listen to the full WFAN interview here.

link

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

Post tours Barclays Center construction site

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

Credit the Post's Rich Calder for not letting Bruce Ratner dodge the crazy idea that the Barclays Center could ever be the permanent home of a professional hockey team (or the Islanders).

Q: What are your thoughts on the potential of the Islanders playing at Barclays Center permanently?

A: First off, I think the goal for everyone is that the Islanders stay in New York State. That’s No. 1. Obviously, if they are able to build an arena in Long Island -- wonderful. But we’d love to have them here if it does not work out. Having a two-sport arena would be terrific. The Islanders have a wonderful history, and it would be great to have them in Brooklyn. And Brooklyn is part of Long Island after all, so it would be great to have them.

Q: What is your sense or gut feeling on the likelihood of the Islanders coming to Brooklyn?

A: I don’t think I have a sense one way or another. It is still three years until [the Islanders] finish up their lease, so we’ll have discussions and I think it depends on what happens with building an [new] arena in Long Island.

Q: How many people will the arena hold?

A: 18,200 for basketball, 19,000 for concerts and likely 14,500 for hockey.

Q: Regarding hockey, is there any chance that more seating down the road could be added for hockey? [14,500 seats would make it the smallest NHL hockey venue]

A: Here’s the issue: Hockey is the kind of sport that because of the dasher [boards] you can get a slightly obstructed seat when the puck is right on your side. We can hold 18,000 for hockey. The question is how many above 14,500 would have somewhat obstructed seats. We have a good sense of it [that the number of seats not obstructed is about 14,500], so if your question is whether we’d want to put in more seats? Probably not. Can we change the obstructions? Probably not. Will more seats be okay? Possibly.

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Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

April 23, 2012

Community Board 6 committee tonight hears presentations on liquor license applications for Kemistry Lounge and Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

The last two items on the long agenda for a Community Board 6 Public Safety/Environmental Protection/Permits/Licenses committee meeting tonight involve a controversial venue near the Barclays Center and the arena itself, about which the committee postponed a vote, requesting further community outreach:

Continued presentation and review of an on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Kemistry Entertainment Group dba Kemistry Lounge at 260 Flatbush Avenue (between St. Mark's / Prospect Places).

Continued presentation and review of an on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Levy Premium Foodservice, LP and Brooklyn Events Center, LLC at the Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue (between Flatbush/5th Avenues).

The meeting starts at 6:30 pm. The location:
Prospect Park YMCA
357 9th Street, 7th floor
(between 5th & 6th Avenues)

link

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

No discounts for loyalty: in move to Brooklyn, the cost of tickets for the Nets rises two to four times (in some cases)

Atlantic Yards Report

New Jersey Nets fans, thanks for your 35 years of loyal support — and don't let the door hit your a***s on the way out.

Tonight is the Nets' last game in New Jersey, and amid the numerous articles that recount the highs and lows of the era, there are a few nuggets. From the Times:

Mr. [Paul] Zarrillo, who spent two years on the Fan Advisory Board, said his season tickets went from $29 a game to $115 in Brooklyn. Another fan said he decided not to renew his season tickets after the price spiked from $1,600 for a 21-game package in Newark to $10,000 for a 41-game package in Brooklyn. No discounts for loyalty. Or for gas and tolls.

From the Star-Ledger:

Alfonso Cottle of Somerset said that over the last two seasons, he and his brother, Christopher, had spent roughly $2,500 on a half-season ticket plan. He said the same arrangement would cost them about $10,000 in Brooklyn

If, as Bruce Ratner said last year, the Barclays Center is "largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," then why is the arena larded with sponsorships, full of luxury suites, and the ticket prices so high?

It's a business, man.

article

Related coverage...

Uncle Mike's Musings, Top 10 Reasons the New Jersey Nets Are Dying Tonight

Surprise! Bruce Ratner is not #1 (he's #2).

The New York Times, Mixed Feelings for Fans as Nets Prepare to Leave

The Star-Ledger, For Nets' fans, Brooklyn seems so near and yet so far away

NY Post, Few tears as Nets bounce Jersey

CBS New York, Jayson Williams Reportedly Not Invited To Nets’ Last Game In NJ

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

NHL commish: Brooklyn not good fit for Islanders, too far from Queens

Field of Schemes
by Neil deMause

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Associated Press sports editors on Friday that Brooklyn may not be a viable relocation site for the New York Islanders — but not because its arena is too poorly laid out for hockey. Rather, Bettman worried, in the AP's words, that the Barclays Center arena would be "hard to reach for the team's fan base in Long Island and Queens."

This is weird on several counts, not least of which is that the Barclays Center sits right on top of a rail hub, with not only nine subway lines but a Long Island Rail Road terminal, trains from which go to, you guessed it, Long Island. There's even a station two blocks away for the G train, the only subway in the city that goes straight from Queens to Brooklyn without sullying its wheels in Manhattan.

article

Related coverage...

The Hockey Writers, Gary Bettman Misses the Point with Islanders Relocation Comments

Even if the arena has a small capacity for hockey games (14,000), the venue could always be changed to cater to a bigger crowd.

NoLandGrab: Except, uh, no it can't, since it's already shoehorned into a space which is too small for it, anyway.

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

April 22, 2012

Why did the Nets fail to take hold in New Jersey? A host of reasons, including a late move to the 'burbs (and maybe one more: the media landscape)

Atlantic Yards Report

An interesting article in The Record today, headlined Game over for N.J. Nets, but who'll miss them?, explores why the New Jersey Nets never quite took hold in New Jersey. An excerpt:

“People in New Jersey didn’t identify the Nets with New Jersey,” said [former Nets president Jon] Spoelstra, now a sports-marketing consultant. “It’s not like San Antonio, Utah, or Sacramento. I think those fans have gotten really wrapped up in their teams to where they become part of their lifestyle.”
[Michael] Rowe, a former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority official who succeeded Spoelstra in 1995, said the location of the team’s Meadowlands base also played a role.
“The Nets were one of the last teams to move to arenas that were out in the suburbs,” said Rowe, president of the Cranbury-based sports management firm Positive Impact. “Eventually, arenas started moving back downtown because it was found that the after-work crowd, the steak-and-beer business communities, the mass-transit people, would support a team. And you didn’t have that here, so the Nets didn’t seem to get adopted by enough people in their home market. New Jersey has more than 500 medium and small towns, to where there was never a town even big enough to host a parade.”
Both also pointed to the large shadow cast by the New York Knicks, just across the river.

The article also references the lack of a consistently good team.

The authors miss one significant reason, I believe: the suburban nature of the Meadowlands arena--the home during most years in New Jersey, until the interim move to Newark--and the suburban nature of the state means that there was relatively little coverage from the New York City media.

With New York City television stations covering the Brooklyn Nets, as well as the sports-heavy tabloids New York Post and and New York Daily News, the relocated team will reap much free publicity.

link

Posted by steve at 5:52 PM

NHL commissioner suggests that lack of accessibility makes Barclays Center not viable for Islanders (really?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The AP reported April 20:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says Brooklyn may not be a viable potential destination for the New York Islanders because it's hard to reach for the team's fan base in Long Island and Queens.
...Bettman reiterated Friday that the league ideally wanted the club to remain in Nassau County. The Islanders plan to leave outdated Nassau Coliseum after their lease expires in 2015. Nassau voters rejected a $400 million referendum last year for a new arena.
Bettman said at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting that the league was helping the Islanders explore their options "in the metropolitan area" and that moving the team to outside New York was not currently being considered.

That's an interesting explanation, given that the building, as Forest City officials admit, was designed specifically for basketball, precluding major league hockey. That said, it could fit 14,500 for hockey, with some lousy sightlines, and while that's very low for the league, it exceeds typical Islanders attendance.

Bettman, it seems, is trying to give a boost to a new arena on Long Island.

See discussion on Islanders Point Blank and NetsDaily regarding such things as the loss of Islanders fans who'd typically drive to a game vs. the potential to attract new fans via public transit and walk-up visitors.

link

Posted by steve at 5:49 PM

April 21, 2012

Gary Bettman: Brooklyn not viable

AP via ESPN.com

We've been saying this for years, but if you don't believe us, listen to the guy who runs the National Hockey League (though he gets the reason wrong).

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says Brooklyn may not be a viable potential destination for the New York Islanders because it's hard to reach for the team's fan base in Long Island and Queens.

Bettman reiterated Friday that the league ideally wanted the club to remain in Nassau County. The Islanders plan to leave outdated Nassau Coliseum after their lease expires in 2015.

Nassau voters rejected a $400 million referendum last year for a new arena.

Bettman said at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting that the league was helping the Islanders explore their options "in the metropolitan area" and that moving the team to outside New York was not currently being considered.

link

NoLandGrab: The reason Barclays Center is "not viable" as a home for the Islanders has to do with the fact that it's built for basketball, not an NHL-sized ice surface.

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

NY Knicks fans take over Prudential Center leaving NJ Nets at home-court disadvantage

Nets CEO Brett Yormark vows that crowds will support Nets once team moves to Brooklyn

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

Mikhail Prokhorov once said he’d turn Knicks fans into Nets fans. It’s safe to say none of the thousands were swayed Wednesday night in Newark.

The New Jersey Nets met the Knicks for the last time in front of a crowd similar to those of their previous 166 matchups: heavy on the Knicks fans.

Blue jerseys flooded the Prudential Center an hour before tipoff. The fans cheered wildly for the road team, chanting “MVP” for Carmelo Anthony when he was at the foul line. They booed the home team, especially Kris Humphries, and jeered Gerald Wallace when he stepped to the line.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Reporot, The Brooklyn move, the brand, and Yormark's talk of the home court advantage

But Yormark is just Yormarketing when he says, "And wearing Brooklyn on our jerseys is going to mean a lot to everybody in that borough."

Not if you keep sacrificing part of the community, as shown on Atlantic Yards Watch.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Newsmaker: Vishaan Chakrabarti

Architectural Record
by Fred A. Bernstein

The "noted urban planner" is at least equal parts real estate developer.

No one has a résumé like Vishaan Chakrabarti, a planner who has darted between the public and private sectors: as a top executive at Related Companies; a director at the New York City Planning Commission; an associate partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; a transportation planner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and, most recently, as the director of Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE). In March, Chakrabarti became a partner at SHoP Architects. He will retain his position at Columbia while helping steer the Manhattan firm responsible for such projects as the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. We recently reached Chakrabarti on his cell phone.
...

AR: So you favor increased density?

VC: Yes, in places that are well served by the subway, like Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn. That’s why we need projects like Atlantic Yards.

AR: Designed by SHoP!

VC: Absolutely! The SHoP plan is tremendous—it’s going to create a great new neighborhood. And the goal to build modular housing could be a game-changer. Prefabricating buildings within New York City, which is what’s really being talked about, could become an important new industry.

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NoLandGrab: Frank Gehry redux? Or has Chakrabarti forgotten that there was a neighborhood there already before Bruce Ratner unleashed the bulldozers.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

Columnist on Albany: politicians do "things that damn well ought to be against the law but aren’t"

Atlantic Yards Report

Daily News columnist Bill Hammond's 4/17/12 column, headlined Albany, land of legal scandals: A blatantly partisan move by Dean Skelos to help Republicans, analyzes the Senate Republicans' effort to add a 63rd seat to the state Senate, which was called "disturbing” by a judge but not clearly unconstitutional:

So what Skelos (R-L.I.) is trying to do — and may very well get away with — is disturbing but just barely legal.

And that’s Albany in a nutshell. Politicians doing things that damn well ought to be against the law but aren’t.

As political columnist Michael Kinsley has often said: Sometimes the real scandal is what’s legal.

And wouldn't that apply to, say, the Empire State Development Corporation's production of an Atlantic Yards Blight Study with bogus crime information?

link

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

From DDDB: "A Ratner's Gallery of Cronies, Friends, Partners, Fixers and Shrill Supporters"

Atlantic Yards Report

From DDDB, A Ratner's Gallery of Cronies, Friends, Partners, Fixers and Shrill Supporters, "Yesterday marked the latest indictment of Forest City Ratner cronies, partners and strident Atlantic Yards supporters/operatives."

Read on for the list, which includes (as per DDDB language):

  • Salvester (Sal) Zarzana,
  • Disgraced State Senator Carl Kruger
  • Disgraced Atlantic Yards lobbyist Richard Lipsky
  • Disgraced former Yonkers Councilwoman Sandy Annabi
  • Disgraced Yonkers GOP operative and fixer Zehy Jereis
  • He who feels no sense of disgrace James Stuckey
  • James Caldwell, currently being sued in federal court

link

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

April 20, 2012

AY down the memory hole: Forest City Ratner's malls identified as "crime epicenter," again contradicting Atlantic Yards Blight Study, which absolved them

Atlantic Yards Report

Of all the dubious work that the ubiquitous environmental consulting firm AKRF has done on Atlantic Yards, its crime study, aimed to support the conclusion that the Atlantic Yards footprint was blighted, was most clearly bankrupt.

Remember, AKRF suggested that a little-populated, railyard-dominated section of footprint, rather than Forest City Ratner's two malls, was responsible for the crime spike in Sector E of the 88th Precinct. But it never checked with the cops to square their observations and statistics with the surely self-serving numbers reported by the malls.

From the New York Times's blog The Local today, Our Crime Epicenter: The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center Malls:

The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls aren’t just hubs for Fort Greene shoppers and commuters — they’re also the neighborhood hotspots for criminals.

The adjoining shopping centers, owned and developed by Atlantic Yards master builder Bruce Ratner, have been the site of at least 26 reported crimes, and countless other thefts, making it the singular crime epicenter in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct.

From the Atlantic Yards Blight Study:

For example, while there were 39 robberies in sector 88E in 2005, the shopping center security records indicate that no robberies occurred that year at Atlantic Center or Atlantic Terminal. Similarly, while there were 115 grand larceny crimes reported for sector 88E in 2005, the shopping center security force recorded only one incident of larceny that same year. Although crimes catalogued by the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal security staff are not necessarily the same as those catalogued by the NYPD, the relatively low number of crimes reported at the shopping centers indicates that the high crime rate in sector 88E is more likely a result of crimes occurring on the project site than in Atlantic Center or Atlantic Terminal.

I've been reporting on the malls' crime problems for years. As I wrote in March 2009, the police had said that the malls were responsible for the area's crime problem.

Helpful study

But AKRF's work was very useful to Forest City Ratner and its enablers. Remember, Jim Stuckey, then president of the Atlantic Yards Development Group, straightfacedly told WNYC talk show host Brian Lehrer in July 2006, "The crime in these [AY footprint] areas is substantially higher than areas around it."

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NoLandGrab: Like AKRF, Stuckey was never one to let the truth get in the way of a paycheck.

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Our Crime Epicenter: The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center Malls

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

The big joke, of course, is that crack Environmental Impact Study consultants AKRF ascribed virtually all the crime in the area to the adjacent neighborhood — you know, the one Bruce Ratner wanted to bulldoze.

The Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls aren’t just hubs for Fort Greene shoppers and commuters — they’re also the neighborhood hotspots for criminals.

The adjoining shopping centers, owned and developed by Atlantic Yards master builder Bruce Ratner, have been the site of at least 26 reported crimes, and countless other thefts, making it the singular crime epicenter in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct.

Just this year, there have been at least:

  • 14 purses and wallets stolen.
  • Four reported — and countless unreported — incidents of shoplifting.
  • Two victims losing $1,200 in an iPad scam.
  • Two fights.
  • Three muggings or attempted muggings.
  • One theft of a bicycle.

The crime is so bad that the 88th Precinct’s commanding officer, Capt. Scott Henderson, is quick to remind shoppers to stay alert.

“I can’t stress this enough: Close your pocketbook, keep it close to your person, don’t leave the purse in the shopping cart,” he said.

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NoLandGrab: Better yet, just stay out of them altogether.

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

A Ratner's Gallery of Cronies, Friends, Partners, Fixers and Shrill Supporters

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

It's getting easier to count Atlantic Yards supporters who haven't gone to jail or been indicted, but DDDB takes a shot at it.

Yesterday marked the latest indictment of Forest City Ratner cronies, partners and strident Atlantic Yards supporters/operatives. Here's the tally:

Click through for more, as the list goes on. And on.

article

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Just another day on residential Dean Street: a construction worker improvises a public pissoir; meanwhile, workers park motorcycles on Pacific Street sidewalk

Atlantic Yards Report

Don't worry, this kind of thing will NEVER happen once the arena's open and 18,000 15,000 12,000 how ever big a crowd the Nets or Rush can muster are streaming out onto local residential streets after an event. Right, ESDC? ESDC?

Are residents around the Atlantic Yards site somehow overwrought when they bring up the possibility of arena attendees relieving themselves in the neighborhood?

Well, the photo at [right], from Atlantic Yards Watch, captures what appears to be a project construction working using the wall of a building on Dean Street near Carlton Avenue as a pissoir. As noted:

The man's hardhat, neon vest under his arm and the union logo "Laborers" on the back of the jacket clearly indicate that he's working on the AY project.

I'm not 100% certain, but I'd say it's a very good bet. This location, by the way, is just across the street from the site planned for interim surface parking--a reason to heed this caution from AY Watch:

Construction workers continue to have an adverse impact on the community with respect to noise, illegal parking, garbage and - in this case - other sanitation issues. Another example of why Forest City Ratner should be responsible, especially when the arena opens, for sidewalk cleanliness in a larger area than just the sidewalks inside the project.

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Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

See Battle for Brooklyn at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, April 27th

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

April 19, 2012

Ex-Carpenters Union official Zarzana, Atlantic Yards cheerleader, charged with extortion and identified as soldier in Genovese crime family

Atlantic Yards Report

As Phil Reisman and John Murtagh were saying...

Salvester (Sal) Zarzana, former head of a Carpenters Union Local and a prominent cheerleader for Atlantic Yards, has been charged with extortion and identified in a federal indictment as a soldier in the Genovese organized crime family.

Click through for all the sordid details.

article

Posted by eric at 12:06 PM

Phil Reisman: Caution is wise when dealing with Forest City

The Journal News
by Phil Reisman

In a certain well-known novel about a whale, the aged Elijah warns Ishmael and his tattooed pal Queequeg that they will lose their souls if they sign on with Captain Ahab.

They ignored him and ... well, you know the rest.

Is there a political lesson in this seafaring disaster story?

I contemplated the question after talking to former Yonkers City Councilman John Murtagh about Forest City Ratner Companies, the super-sized developer of literally millions of square feet of real estate in the metropolitan region — including the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Ridge Hill in Yonkers and the Echo Bay project in New Rochelle.
...

“Given their track record in Brooklyn and Yonkers, I would warn any municipality I came across to watch out for these guys because I just think they’re bad operators,” Murtagh said. “They ride roughshod over communities. They quite frankly — legally or otherwise — buy off politicians. They game the system for their advantage.”

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NoLandGrab: There's really nothing we can add.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Did Atlantic Yards "effectively wipe out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn"? No.

Norman Oder takes issue with one detail in the Journal News column, in which Reisman wrote:

Atlantic Yards is a colossus of a project that effectively wipes out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. It has spawned many lawsuits and protests from residents and merchants who regard Forest City Ratner to be evil incarnate.

The comment I tried to post:

For the record, whatever you think of Atlantic Yards, it cannot "effectively wipes out the Flatbush section of Brooklyn," because it's not *in* the Flatbush neighborhood. That's more than a mile away. The project is located in the northwest edge of Prospect Heights, and has a significant impact there, including a stretch of adjacent Flatbush Avenue.

I'd add that merchants are likely divided, with some of them, especially purveyors of food and drink, pretty darn happy. And that a closer look at Atlantic Yards suggests that the developer, as with Ridge Hill, plays hardball when it counts.

Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

Impact of Atlantic Yards arena, actually, will be felt a lot more when new/empty spaces get filled

Atlantic Yards Report

Has the advent of the Barclays Center really changed retail in the blocks around it?

That was the theme of a misguided Times article Tuesday, which focused significantly on gentrification-led change (see the map below, highlighting small establishments), while missing the fact that such change had nothing to do with reclaiming the enduring "scar" of the Vanderbilt Yard.

The map even missed the burger boom outlined by the Brooklyn Paper, which, that article suggests, is partly driven by the arena for Five Guys, but not for 67 Burger.

Meanwhile, the Times scanted the opportunity to address issues of accountability, such as the five-month delay in the Transportation Demand Management plan or the Appellate Division's smackdown of the Empire State Development Corporation. And that raises questions about whether local officials are prepared to address arena impacts on the residential blocks.

What's coming

While the area around the Barclays Center is changing, and there's significant retail demand for open spaces, what struck me last night as I walked Flatbush Avenue is how much more change there will be.

There are several major spaces empty, or not yet open, unmentioned in the Times's oddly-focused map....

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Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Knicks Say Goodbye to New Jersey

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

The Knicks packed their jerseys and their high-tops, boarded a bus and crossed the Hudson River one final time Wednesday night, not to pay their last respects to the Nets of New Jersey, but to bury them, without sentiment or sympathy.

In the semi-historic final meeting between teams labeled as “New Jersey” and “New York,” the Knicks did not even permit their putative rivals the courtesy of a home-court advantage.

The cheers, the chants and most of the points belonged to the Knicks, in a 104-95 victory that was never close or compelling. The Knicks sped to an early 21-point lead, survived a sloppy second half and rode Carmelo Anthony’s 33 points to the final buzzer.

And with that, an era of sorts came to an uninspiring end. The Knicks will not play another game in the Garden State. The Nets, after 35 years in New Jersey, are heading to Brooklyn next fall, where they will play in the new Barclays Center.

The Nets can only hope that a more supportive crowd awaits them across the East River.

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Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

Former Forest City executive James P. Stuckey, after leaving NYU job under a cloud, rebuilds in Florida (spambot comment: "James P. Stuckey will definitely be a legend")

Atlantic Yards Report

The always, um, colorful James P. Stuckey is back, sort of, as detailed in this entertaining Atlantic Yards Report post. Look out, Florida!

Jim Stuckey, who shepherded the Atlantic Yards project for Forest City Ratner until his mysterious mid-2007 departure, later went to New York University, where last fall he made another abrupt departure.

It turns out that Stuckey and NYU were later sued for sexual harassment--Stuckey and NYU said his departure was for health reasons--and the New York Post reported that allegations of sexual harassment caused the executive's departure from Forest City.

Now Stuckey has relocated from Staten Island to Naples, FL, and still operates his firm Verdant Properties. His personal website, like his Twitter feed, seems crammed with the phrase "James P. Stuckey," perhaps helpful in the process of reputation management....

Click through for the wackiness.

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Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Residents Worried About Drunken ‘Rowdiness’ Coming From Barclays Center

CBS New York
by Holly Haerr

Brooklynites around the new Barclays Center are not ready to raise a pint to the Nets and their fans.

Some residents are concerned about what crowds of fans will do if they drink a lot during games or concerts and come into the surrounding neighborhoods after events at the soon-to-be home of the Brooklyn Nets.

“If you ask me, I wouldn’t have any alcohol at all. It makes people act crazy,” one Park Slope resident told 1010 WINS’ Holly Haerr. “It’s a big concern to me because I’m an older person. I don’t like it.”
...

“The arena operators are acting as if they don’t need the support of the local community and, you know, that’s a scary proposition for people who are going to have to live next to this arena for decades — for the rest of their lives,” said Gib Veconi, Treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

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Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Rush announce 2012 North American tour dates

Rock it Out!

Hot new act Rush is coming to Brooklyn!

Rush is releasing its newest album, Clockwork Angels, on June 5th which means a tour was naturally going to follow.

The band has announced a massive North American tour that’s going to kick off on September 7th in Manchester, NH and will come to a close on December 2nd in Houston, TX. All of the tour dates can be seen down below.
...

10/22 – Brooklyn, NY, Barclays Center

link

NoLandGrab: Anyone know if Donny Osmond has announced his tour dates yet?

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

April 18, 2012

Michael Galinsky, Guggenheim Fellow

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Congratulations to Battle for Brooklyn filmmaker Michael Galinsky, who's been named a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

Michael Galinsky
2012 - US & Canada Competition
Creative Arts - Film-Video

For the past twenty years, Michael Galinsky has been making films with Suki Hawley. After making two narrative features (Half-Cocked in 1994 and Radiation in 1999), they began work on the documentary Horns and Halos (2002), which they completed in partnership with David Beilinson. Since then, they formed the collaborative production studio Rumur. In 2011, they completed and distributed their fifth feature (third with Beilinson), Battle for Brooklyn. It played in over twenty cities and was recently named one of the fifteen notable films of 2012 by the American Library Association. They are currently working on several documentary and narrative film projects, including Conception, which explores the nature (and nurture) of family, and will use the Guggenheim Foundation grant to focus on that film. In addition they are in the middle of production on Story of Pain, a film about the pain epidemic and the pioneering work of Dr. John E. Sarno.

link

Posted by eric at 1:56 PM

Sip off: Barclays Center neighbors fight for smaller beer cups

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

Prospect Heights residents want to referee the booze rules at the soon-to-open Barclays Center in an attempt to keep liquored-up sports fans from committing fouls on their residential streets after games.

Arena neighbors are demanding the hoops hub adopt an alcohol cut-off time and limit the size and number of drinks served to fans, claiming the restrictions are necessary because the future home of the Brooklyn Nets borders residential areas and, unlike most urban stadiums, is not buffered from communities by large parking lots.

“This is a truly unique situation — so we need more sensitive crowd control rules,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

He and other neighbors want beer sold in 12-ounce containers rather than the 16-ounce cups common at many stadiums, served no more than two at a time, and poured no later than 9:30 pm at sports games and concerts.
...

Pinning the booze curfew to an hour, not a stoppage in play, isn’t unheard of, either: Chicago’s Wrigley Field — which, like the Barclays Center, isn’t far from residences — has a 9:20 pm alcohol cut-off.

article

NoLandGrab: The photo illustrates perfectly how absurdly close to private homes New York State allowed Forest City Ratner to build the arena. Those homes it didn't allow him to bulldoze, that is.

Photo: Stefano Giovannini/The Brooklyn Paper

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Gehry, asked about issues of scale, grudgingly admits, "Yeah, I guess"

Atlantic Yards Report

An exchange between architecture critic Paul Goldberger and architect Frank Gehry, during an interview April 12 at Yale University, suggests that the architect only slightly acknowledges the controversy over Atlantic Yards, the one that in May 2006 led him to crack that protestors "should have been picketing Henry Ford."

The discussion begins at about the 1:00 mark. Here's the key exchange.

FG: I think Atlantic Yards had a problem--it was just right at the moment the recession started, everybody panicked, everybody was cutting back.

PG: But there were issues about the scale, too--very, very big, and there was a lot of opposition, not to the specifics of your design, but to the overall scale of the project.

FG: Yeah, I guess. (Pause) But they're gonna build--they're building parts of it. We established the guidelines, so, for better and for worse, it's going to be an irregular skyline.

Goldberger is writing Gehry's biography, so he has lots of opportunity to examine the thin-skinned Gehry's rather fraught relationship with Atlantic Yards and, as detailed below, Gehry's own acknowledgment that scale was a challenge.

Watch live streaming video from yale at livestream.com

link

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

Crime Report: A Busy Week of Purse — And Copper — Thefts

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

When you look up "lame-brained" in the dictionary, the first definition reads "entering one of Bruce Ratner's malls with $7,000 in your purse."

It was a very busy week for the 88th Precinct, with a number of assaults at the notorious Tillary Street women’s shelter, several thefts at the crime-riddled Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls and a couple of thefts of copper, the semi-unprecious metal whose increasing value has driven a mini-crime wave.

Burgled At Burlington

A thief swiped a pocketbook from a shopper at Burlington Coat Factory in the Atlantic Center Mall on April 14. The 51-year-old woman told police she left her purse unattended in her shopping cart at 6:30 p.m. but it was not there when she returned to it.

She lost $7,000, a passport, a wallet and a birth certificate.

Bust Buy

A grifter disguised as a Best Buy employee tricked a man into handing over $1,200 for nothing on April 9.

The 25-year-old man told cops that he was shopping at the Guitar Center in Atlantic Terminal Mall when a stranger outfitted in the telltale blue uniform said he could get the man three iPads for half price. The man met with his new contact outside the Best Buy and gave him $1,200 for the coveted tablets.

The supposed Best Buy worker went into the electronics store and never came back. It’s the second time this year that the exact same scam has gone down.

Targeted

A pickpocket preyed on a woman in the baby section of Target in the Atlantic Terminal Mall on April 12, stealing her purse.

The 29-year-old woman told cops that her bag was inside the shopping cart, but it was not there when she tried to pay at the register at around 9:15 p.m.

The crook got away with a digital camera, a Samsung phone and a Bank of America card, which the scoundrel tried to use about a half-hour earlier.

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Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Police: Man beat woman with cane

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

Love-Hating Brooklyn and the Atlantic Yards

Curbed NY
by Dave Hogarty

The half-assed New York Times piece on the arena effect spawns more, since it's The Times.

For all of its winking fun, however, the Times does point out that the neighborhood around the Atlantic Yards is walking a tightrope between bemoaning rapid change and getting caught in the doldrums of protracted development. Massive plans that were meant to utterly transform the Atlantic Yards over 10 years are now projected to take 25 years, forcing residents to "tolerate vacant lots, above-ground arena parking and Phase II construction staging for decades."

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Related coverage...

Planetizen, Nowhere Near Completion, Brooklyn's Mega-Development is Already Changing the Neighborhood

Brownstoner, Atlantic Yards Effect: Is it Changing Retail For the Worse?

Crain's Cleveland Business, Forest City's Atlantic Yards project brings change to Brooklyn

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

Will A Bigger, Taller, Rezoned Midtown Be Bloomberg's Legacy?

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

Mayor Bloomberg has made many plays over his two-and-a-half terms at leaving a lasting physical legacy, but none really worked out. The maybe-too-short One World Trade isn't really his, the Jets stadium never happened (and neither did the Olympics), Atlantic Yards is enriching a few while alienating many of the locals—and don't even get us started on CityTime. So what's a billionaire from Boston to do? Well, according to the Daily News, try and rush through rezoning to rebuild the area around Grand Central taller! Sleeker! With less soul! Yup, views of the Chrysler Building could soon be but a memory.

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Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

Barclays Center Taking Shape As 1010 WINS Gets Tour Inside

CBS New York
by Al Jones

1010 WINS asks Bruce Ratner the tough questions.

Could the Islanders potentially make a move to Brooklyn? Ratner certainly doesn’t discount the possibility.

“They could play here. It would be a lot to do the arranging for and so on, but yes it could be done,” he said.

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NoLandGrab: Yup, the Islanders could play in the Barclays Center the same way Mike Bloomberg once said Bruce Ratner would build the thing without public money.

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

New Rochelle City Council Votes 7-0 on Revised Waterfront Proposal for Echo Bay and Armory

Talk of the Sound
by Robert Cox

A vote that was widely expected to go 5-2 along party lines in favor of extending the Forest City MOU with the City of New Rochelle passed 7-0 in favor after a last minute deal was struck under which changes to the term sheet shortened the length of the MOU extension from 18 months to 9 months while creating a concurrent RFP process for the New Rochelle Armory.

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Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

April 17, 2012

My lecture May 4: Atlantic Yards: Why Brooklyn’s Biggest Controversy is as Noir as Chinatown

Atlantic Yards Report

nerd nite nyc sponsors monthly events with entertaining/enlightening presentations, and I'll be speaking Friday May 4 at Galapagos in DUMBO:

*Presentation #3
Atlantic Yards: Why Brooklyn’s Biggest Controversy is as Noir as Chinatown
by Norman Oder

Description: The massive arena-plus-skyscrapers complex planned for a key Brooklyn crossroads spawned controversy, protests, and lawsuits since it was announced in 2003. Why? Little things like eminent domain, encroachment on a residential neighborhood, and major efforts to manipulate the public. The details may seem dry, but once you pull back the cover, the story behind the Barclays Center, and the rest of Atlantic Yards, becomes as noir as the film Chinatown. (Well, almost — no murders.)

Bio: Veteran journalist Norman Oder has, for more than six years, written the daily Atlantic Yards Report blog, which Malcolm Gladwell called “brilliantly obsessive.” He’s contributed to numerous publications and appeared on Brian Lehrer’s TV show (but not Brian’s radio show). Norman also runs a walking tour company, New York Like A Native, and even leads an Atlantic Yards tour.

Tickets to these events tend to sell out within a day or two, so if you're interested, buy now.

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NoLandGrab: Does Norman Oder like his nose? Then he maybe oughta lay off the brilliant obsessiveness.

Posted by eric at 11:19 PM

In Times Metro section, a pseudo-scandal gets far more attention than an unaccountable agency

Atlantic Yards Report

Today's New York Times coverage of a pseudo-scandal, the maintenance of a "dossier" by Governor Andrew Cuomo's staff on political reporter Liz Benjamin: 17 paragraphs.

Today's New York Times coverage of an unaccountable agency, a state appellate court's decision slamming the Empire State Development Corporation for its environmental review of Atlantic Yards: 2 paragraphs.

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Posted by eric at 11:15 PM

Atlantic Yards Changed Brooklyn Long Ago, Says NYT [POLL]

The transformation of Brooklyn has already been felt in the Atlantic Yards project – and the first phase, the Barclays Center, hasn't even been completed.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

...the Times says that the changes are evidence that the project has accomplished its goal of transforming the Long Island Rail Road’s dreary rail yards and surrounding industrial buildings, described by Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco as “a scar that divided the neighborhood.”

But would these changes have happened on their own, anyway? Other Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Williamsburg and DUMBO, blossomed with high-rise condos and artisanal cocktail bars long ago. Vote in our poll below, or let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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NoLandGrab: The guy who mostly pays DePlasco's salary, Bruce Ratner, could himself be described as a "scar that divided the neighborhood" — except that with probably 9 out of every 10 residents loathing him, that hardly counts as "divided."

Posted by eric at 11:06 PM

Times focuses on retail changes near arena site, suggests blight of "dreary" rail yards transformed & "die-hard opponents" worried about liquor license (nah)

An article in today's New York Times about the Atlantic Yards project illustrates, yet again, how the Times neglects covering Brooklyn and is out of touch. Fortunately, Norman Oder points out what the Times seems unable to understand.

Atlantic Yards Report

I can't say I didn't predict that the New York Times would cover last week's appellate court ruling parenthetically, essentially dismissing an important rebuke to the state agency that has championed Atlantic Yards.

Instead, the Times's Impact of Atlantic Yards, for Good or Ill, Is Already Felt, complete with several photos, focuses on retail changes near Flatbush Avenue, some accelerated by the arena, some already in process, and pretty much ignores issues of accountability:

the reality is that the Atlantic Yards project has already done the very thing that critics feared and supporters promoted: transform surrounding neighborhoods prized for their streets of tree-lined brownstones and low-key living.

Was an arena really needed to accelerate retail along Flatbush Avenue? How about a rezoning of the few blocks zoned industrial and an effort to market the Vanderbilt Yard?

...

Here's the most deceptive passage:

For Forest City Ratner, the developer of the project, which was strongly backed by many city leaders, the changes are evidence that the arena has already met its goal of transforming a dreary section of Brooklyn — the Long Island Rail Road’s rail yards and surrounding industrial buildings, which the company’s spokesman described as “ a scar that divided the neighborhood.”
“That’s a sign of economic vitality, something that’s good for the borough,” said Joe DePlasco, the Ratner spokesman.

In other words, the project has successfully removed the blight that was the justification for eminent domain.

It hasn't.

Forest City Ratner hasn't even paid the MTA for the development rights to most of the railyard. It renegotiated a 22-year schedule to pay. As for the "surrounding industrial buildings," the largest (the Ward Bakery) was torn down for the interim surface parking lot (bookended by a historic district), and other large ones were condo conversions torn down for the arena (Spalding, Atlantic Arts).

Rather, the combination of the arena, and dense nearby residential populations, has driven up rents. And, as Chuck Ratner, then CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises, once said, "it's a great piece of real estate" (not a "dreary section of Brooklyn"). Map from NY Times, annotations in blue

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Related coverage...

New York Times, Impact of Atlantic Yards, for Good or Ill, Is Already Felt

The battle over Atlantic Yards has already raged longer than the Civil War, with eight years of protests, petitions and lawsuits seeking to halt a project that promised to reshape the heart of Brooklyn.

Even now, as the oyster-shaped basketball arena that will anchor a 22-acre housing and office complex rises against the low-slung Brooklyn skyline, die-hard opponents are still resisting. Last week they packed a hearing held by two community boards to block the arena from speedily receiving a liquor license.

But almost six months before the Barclays Center opens its doors to the Nets, Brooklyn’s first major professional sports team since the lamented Dodgers, the reality is that the Atlantic Yards project has already done the very thing that critics feared and supporters promoted: transform surrounding neighborhoods prized for their streets of tree-lined brownstones and low-key living.

Posted by steve at 9:14 AM

NBA picks New Orleans for 2014 All-Star game, which means Barclays Center has to wait (though 2015 would be a good bet)

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote in February that the chances for the Barclays Center to host the NBA 2013 All-Star game were long past, and 2014 was also in jeopardy, however much the league likes to showcase new arenas.

The NBA typically reveals its decision well more than a year in advance, I observed, and, based on past timing, the league was to pick its 2014 All-Star venue between May and August 2012, before the Brooklyn arena was even finished.

Well, it's happened even sooner. ESPN reported last night:

Three days after [New Orleans] Saints owner Tom Benson agreed to buy the [New Orleans] Hornets and sign a lease extension at New Orleans Arena, NBA commissioner David Stern came down to the bayou and announced that New Orleans will host the 2014 All-Star Game as "a reward to the good citizens of this city and the sponsors and ticket holders" who helped solidify the team's financial footing before it was sold.

The Barclays Center is likely a leading candidate for 2015, though the renovated Madison Square Garden would also be a contender.

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Posted by steve at 9:12 AM

Ex-Forest City officials Bender and Cantone launch consulting office, cite "existing and future clients"

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Bender and Scott Cantone, formerly the two top government relations officials at Brooklyn-based developer Forest City Ratner, have finally launched Bender Cantone Consulting, which they call "a full service public affairs firm specializing in governmental relations, public policy, political consulting, strategic communications and community outreach." (The BenderCantone.com URL doesn't work yet.)

Word of the move emerged two months ago, perhaps not coincidentally before both testified in the federal corruption trial that led to the convictions of former Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi, a Democrat, and her political mentor and close friend, Zehy Jereis, chairman of the Yonkers Republican Party. A jury agreed that Jereis's nearly $200,000 in payments to Annabi were intended to influence her vote, including her flip on Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill retail/residential project.

Bender and Cantone, unable to get a meeting with Annabi, finally got one via Jereis, who promptly asked for a job. Forest City strung him along until after Annabi's vote, then hired him for an essentially no-show job, ultimately paying him $15,000. "We were between a rock and a hard place," Bender said on the stand.

Neither Forest City nor its staffers were charged, but even a pro-development type like Crain's New York Business columnist Greg David criticized the company's "See no evil, hear no evil" posture.

Bender and Cantone, however much their reputations may have been dinged, said in a mass email Monday that they "look forward to utilizing this experience for the benefit of our existing and future clients," so their connections--built up not merely at Forest City but at the City Council and Mayor's Office, not to mention Brooklyn's powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club--apparently still bear fruit.

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Posted by steve at 9:07 AM

Ratner, whose firm once claimed "400 jobs" at the arena, now promotes "2000 workers" at the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

WINS reports that Bruce "Ratner said that 2,000 people will eventually be hired as part-time and full-time workers" at the Barclays Center arena.

Now that's possible, if a lot of people are sharing part-time jobs, but the arena has never been portrayed as offering a huge number of jobs, much less high-paying ones.

Consider how, in 2005 letters--certainly orchestrated by Ratner's firm--to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Brooklyn elected officials uniformly predicted only 400 jobs at the arena--an arena that at the time was planned to be larger.

...

Even if Ratner is counting basketball jobs, and more retail than originally assumed, it's a huge leap from 400 jobs to 2000 workers, unless most of the latter hold very part-time jobs.

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Posted by steve at 9:03 AM

April 16, 2012

IS THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY RIGGED???

ProSportsBlogging
by Mark Cook

Charles Barkley seems to think that the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged & I personally agree with his assessment. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that this event is clearly “staged” to help the WORST team get a boost from the league. Still, the most interesting thing Chuck said was that he believes the Nets will benefit from the “rigging” this June.
...

Brooklyn is desperate to add a “young star” to attract fans to the Barclays Center. Earning the 1st pick would be a major step in that direction. It would make perfect sense to have Anthony Davis playing in the Big City. Davis could quickly form a lethal inside/outside tandem with Marshon Brooks. The success of the Nets in Brooklyn is very important to the league, so why not think it’s possible for the ping-pong balls to bounce the right way for us.

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NoLandGrab: Everything about the deal that got the Nets new Brooklyn arena built was totally rigged, so why wouldn't the NBA follow suit?

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

Times op-ed: EB-5 program lacks credibility, needs reform, but "solutions are straightforward" (really?)

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Times op-ed today, Making Visas-for-Dollars Work, suggests that the EB-5 program can and must be fixed. Writes author Ann Lee a senior fellow at the center-left think tank Demos and the author of “What the U.S. Can Learn From China”:

Given how many high-worth investors are clamoring to enter the United States, the program could have a significant effect on American unemployment. Indeed, it has brought in some $1 billion over the last fiscal year, and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has called for the program to be “radically” expanded over the next few years.

Unfortunately, the program is so rife with fraud and corruption that it could actually have the opposite impact and deter investment. To regain its credibility, the program must make a number of changes to enable more transparency and demand more competence from its operators.

The most egregious problems with the EB-5 program can be found in its 218 regional centers, which work with private-sector brokers to identify local investments and direct foreign participants to them. Examples abound of centers and brokers playing down risky investments and misrepresenting how the program works, including a promise that EB-5 investments are guaranteed by the federal government — when the government in fact does nothing of the sort. Many investments have failed to create the required 10 jobs and even gone bankrupt, leaving the investor without his money or his green card.

That's not the half of it. It goes far, far deeper, such as misrepresenting the project itself. And the regional centers do not merely "work with private-sector brokers," that's what they are: private businesses.

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Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

Greg Stiemsma Hangs Out With Wrestler Mick Foley After Celtics Game, Says 'He's the Man!'

NESN.com

The New England Sports Network gets in its Time Machine, dials up "November 2012," and visits the future home of the Brooklyn Nets.

Greg Stiemsma had a nice game against the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night, but it was what happened after the game that had him tweeting with excitement.

Stiemsma, fresh off a six-point, nine-rebound performance in Boston's 94-82 victory, tweeted a photo of himself hanging out with wrestler Mick Foley on the court.

The Celtics center tweeted, "I got to meet Mick Foley after the game. He's the man!"

Foley, of course, had been known by many aliases throughout his professional wrestling career, including Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love. And while it appears he was attending the game simply as himself on Saturday night at Barclays Center, he did feature a hint of Dude Love, sporting what looks to be a purple tie-dye shirt under his brown blazer.

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NoLandGrab: The photo from the future gives a preview of the "crowds" the woeful Nets will draw.

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

Prokhorov, in the New Yorker, said he hasn't broken laws, but admits to corrupt dealings (and shrugs them off as inevitable in Russia)

Atlantic Yards Report

Now that Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov has visited Brooklyn, with a press conference last week at the Barclays Center site, let's take a look at Julia Ioffe's recent New Yorker piece, The Master and Mikhail: Are Putin and Prokhorov running for President against or with each other?.

The main message was that the billionaire may have appeared to be a Kremlin stooge when he entered politics, but he had moved past that--at least somewhat--in his run against Vladimir Putin.

But the two passages most interesting to me regarded Prokhorov's business success. The first:

“Can you please tell me, is it possible to earn a billion honestly?” an elderly man asked, echoing the sentiment, common in Russia, that the oligarchs earned their fortunes through deceit and government connections.

“I think you can,” Prokhorov replied, his face radiating self-regard. “At the very least, I haven’t broken any laws.”

(Emphases added)

Not breaking the law is not the same as behaving honestly, as Forest City Ratner's dealings in Yonkers might show.

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NoLandGrab: Here's our original coverage of the piece.

Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

New Nets arena attracts stores, eateries

Newsday
by Kathleen Lucadamo

Ah, yes, Bruce Ratner's new sports palace is really going to class up the neighborhood.

"Hooters came to us for retail space adjacent to the stadium. We sent them away," said Michael Pintchik, who owns dozens of buildings between Atlantic Avenue and Grand Army Plaza. "Our goal is to make the area eclectic, a place that young people want to hang out, instead of just another commercial strip."

Hooters did not return calls for comment.

Michael Pintchik is a neighborhood guy, and has more scruples than your average landlord, who'll be happy to rent to Hooters, or Larry Flynt [NSFW].

Established businesses are also expecting a boom.

"Eventually people will come from all over, not just Long Island," said Leah Baptiste, manager of Wayne Agassi's Salon and Spa at Bergen Street and Flatbush Avenue. The spa is considering extending hours on game days and offering packages for folks who want to enjoy the area while their partners attend the game.

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NoLandGrab: Yes, we always get a perm before a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Haven't you noticed all the hair salons on 33rd Street?

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

April 15, 2012

To NetsDaily, neighborhood concerns about the arena broadcast support area translate to "more finishing touches"

Atlantic Yards Report

This is fairly minor stuff, but it again illustrates the disdain that Net Income (aka Bob Windrem), the chief contributor to the NetsDaily blog, has for the Brooklyn neighborhood where the Barclays Center is being built.

What to him is "More Finishing Touches" links to a Brownstoner post, More AY Concerns, This Time About Broadcasting Space.

Slightly different, but, then again, Windrem once crowed, "I don’t care what happens to these people…not one iota."

And Mr. Income, not exactly a regular visitor to Brooklyn, seems to think that the site at issue, across from the arena block, used to be home to Freddy's Bar. Not so. It used to include two houses, as shown in the graphics here. Freddy's was located on the arena block.

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Posted by steve at 9:56 PM

A (free) Atlantic Yards walking tour May 5, 2 pm, part of Jane's Walks

Atlantic Yards Report

The Municipal Art Society and Jane Jacobs Walk, which catalog a whole weekend of walks in honor of the famed urbanist, offer on Saturday, May 5, Atlantic Yards: Brooklyn’s Most Controversial Development:

Time: 14:00 – 16:00 Walk Host: Norman Oder, author, Atlantic Yards Report blog, and founder of New York Like a Native tours Accessibility: Fully Accessible
Description: Jane's Walkers will learn the context of Brooklyn’s most controversial development project with Norman Oder, the journalist behind the Atlantic Yards Report blog and founder of New York Like a Native tours. The walk will begin near Atlantic Terminal, in front of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Brooklyn's iconic tower. Walkers will then dip into the revitalized Fort Greene community before traversing the area around the Barclays Center arena and the rest of the unbuilt Atlantic Yards footprint in Prospect Heights.
Meeting Place: The Williamsburgh Savings Bank/One Hanson Place (near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Ave.)
Ending Place: Corner of Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect HeightsV

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Posted by steve at 9:45 PM

KPMG and Barclays: synergy beyond Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

For Atlantic Yards watchers, there's something quite synergistic about this photo of golfer Phil Mickelson, who "represents KPMG on Tour in the U.S. and across the globe."

Here's the consulting company's blurb:

Just knowing how won’t get the job done in a complex environment. You also need the passion to excel—to harness what you know against every challenge. Every time. That’s the kind of drive that puts Phil Mickelson atop the leaderboard. And leads KPMG to provide clear, actionable advice to our clients around the world.
It’s that simple.

Such clear, actionable advice--er, fuzzy math--helped the Empire State Development Corporation tell the public and courts that it was realistic to get the entire Atlantic Yards project, including the market-rate housing, built in a decade.

And, of course, Barclays, which now sponsors numerous sporting events, bought naming rights to the Atlantic Yards arena.

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Posted by steve at 9:42 PM

Atlantic Yards Mega-mistake Shipwrecks on the 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

Noticing New York

T.S. Eliot had some ideas about April being the cruelest month. Today, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, political cartoonist Mark Hurwitt has a befitting image (above) depicting the current state of the Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly debacle.

The Titanic sank on April 15th after it hit the iceberg on April 14th, just as Lincoln succumbed on April 15th after being shot in Ford’s Theater on the 14th. Aside from mid-April bringing us our April 15th IRS deadline it seems wont to bring us some other big events. Just days ago the New York York Appellate Division ruled unanimously that the Atlantic Yards mega-project, part of the 30+ acres of Ratner’s proposed mega-monopoly,was never legitimately approved, given deceptions by the Ratner people and the State’s Empire State Development public authority (ESDC). (See: Thursday, April 12, 2012, Appellate Court smacks down ESD, upholds decision ordering new study of long-term Atlantic Yards impact, requires new approval of Phase II; Forest City reminds us: it doesn't affect arena.)

The deceptions, which meant that Ratner and ESDC consciously avoided considering substantial negative impacts of his mega-project to the community, were practiced by Ratner and ESDC partly so that Ratner could illegitimately meet an IRS deadline (shades of April15th!) without which the Prokhorov/Ratner basketball arena would probably never have proceeded. Ratner and ESDC were falsely asserting that Ratner would fully construct his mega-monopoly with a ten-year time frame while concealing their expectation and plans for it to take multiple decades.

After hitting the iceberg the Titanic broke up. The court ruling means that the environmental impact of the Ratner’s proposed mega-monopoly must be freshly considered (as it was never actually properly considered at all) and that means that one of the prospective effects of such consideration is that what was once considered as one huge mega-project solely owned by Ratner may now be broken up into multiple parcels to be developed by multiple smaller (better) developers as, for instance, is envisioned in the community’s UNITY Plan. It’s the better way to go.

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Posted by steve at 9:40 PM

Today's Times Metro section: why no room for coverage of the Atlantic Yards decision?

Atlantic Yards

Below is the list of articles in the New York Times's New York pages today. Might the Times have room for coverage of the decision in the Atlantic Yards lawsuit? No.

Isn't a court's unanimous rebuke to the state economic development agency meaningful? Doesn't it confirm widespread concern about a lack of accountability by the state and developer Forest City Ratner, which, as the Times periodically (but not always) reminds us, was the newspaper's business partner in building the Times Tower?

An article about it would not represent enterprise journalism, which requires actual digging by reporters. All the Times had to do was to boil down a legal opinion (a day late) and add some quotes.

After all, that article on vintage trains came with two large photos. And the obsession with the red-tailed hawks, however charming, is really made for ongoing online coverage.

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Posted by steve at 9:39 PM

April 14, 2012

On the wrong side of history: how, in hindsight, the Municipal Art Society should have joined the Atlantic Yards litigation, and why the press would have paid more attention

Atlantic Yards Report

Imagine where we'd be if the Municipal Art Society (MAS), the venerable preservation and planning organization that spawned the BrooklynSpeaks coalition and has advocated for Atlantic Yards reforms, had not chosen to leave that coalition when several of its members sued the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) over its failure to study the impacts of a delayed project buildout.

We might be reading a lot more about the aftermath of that suit, a severe rebuke from the courts to the state and developer Forest City Ratner, and a reminder about the lack of accountability regarding Atlantic Yards.

MAS, which has the ear of city elites (see this 8/6/06 New York Times editorial on AY or its role in debating the expansion of NYU), would have joined the press release--or sent out its own--announcing the unanimous victory April 12 in appellate court by the community coalitions challenging the state.

The New York Times, which has so far ignored the news, would have had to take it more seriously, at least in a news story, if not an editorial.

And MAS would have been on the right side of history in this case, recognizing that BrooklynSpeaks, formed in September 2006 as an alternative to the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) opposition strategy, had found negotiation to be fruitless.

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Posted by steve at 5:38 PM

An editorial in the Times slamming Gov. Christie for "political bluster"--and why similar criticism could apply to the ESDC over Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

From a New York Times editorial yesterday headlined Gov. Christie and the Tunnel Project:

If you find yourself in a stopped train in a Hudson River tunnel, or in a vehicle on a choked highway, in coming years, at least you will know why. In his drive to become the darling of the cut-costs-at-all-costs Republican crowd, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey ignored real economic analysis and relied on exaggerated worst-case scenarios to kill the largest public transit project in the nation in 2010.

...Now, a report from the Government Accountability Office makes it clear that the cost-cutting talk was political bluster.

What about AY?

We're not going to see a Times editorial on the appellate court ruling April 12 rebuking the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) for misleading the public about Atlantic Yards. (Why not? "Too many roadblocks and politics," to quote a certain cop.)

But someone could write this:

If you find yourself in gridlock in Prospect Heights, or hear people in the neighborhoods around the Atlantic Yards site complaining about ongoing construction in the year 2030, at least you will know why. In their zeal to get the Barclays Center arena in gear, the Empire State Development Corporation ignored real environmental analysis and relied on exaggerated worst-case scenarios to re-approve the Atlantic Yards mega-project in 2009.
...Now, a unanimous decision from an appellate court makes it clear that the agency's estimate that the project could be completed in a decade, and that the worst-case impacts had been studied, was expedient bluster.

Yes, the Access to the Region's Core project Christie killed was a bigger deal than Atlantic Yards. But the issue of public accountability is very similar.

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Posted by steve at 5:35 PM

An "arena broadcast support area" is coming to residential Prospect Heights; first a presentation to CB 8, then to DOT

Atlantic Yards Report

From Brownstoner:

Last night reps from Forest City Ratner made a presentation to Community Board 8 on a petition for a revocable consent to install cable conduits under 6th Avenue, between Dean and Pacific, and use a lot on the corner of Dean Street and 6th Avenue as a “broadcast support area.” Basically, the compact lot (which is currently a police parking lot) will be used for news trucks to park.

Actually, while it may be currently a police parking lot, it was, for years, occupied in part by two houses. Their removal might be considered the creation of blight.

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Related coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, Atlantic Yards Developer Plans Satellite News Truck Parking Lot at Sixth and Dean

Posted by steve at 5:31 PM

Walking between legal raindrops

Herald Sun

The shady dealings in Prospect Heights have been heard of even in Australia. In this article, the common catalyst for corruption for both State Senator's Carl Kruger and Zehy Jereis is found to be Forest City Ratner.

Interestingly, Kruger's troubles related to his dealings with one of the property developers who have ended up causing Jereis so much distress. The developer has never been charged with wrongdoing, or as the New York Times put it, "he has walked between the legal raindrops".

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Posted by steve at 4:04 PM

Court: Part of NYC's Atlantic Yards needs review

AP via Democrat and Chronicle

An appeals court says parts of Brooklyn's massive Atlantic Yards development project need further environmental review.

Thursday's state Supreme Court Appellate Division decision doesn't affect a key piece of the project: a new arena for the NBA's Nets. It's set to open in September.

But the ruling says the state-run Empire State Development Corp. must look again at the plan's second phase. That includes 11 high-rises.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and other community groups sued after the second-phase completion date was extended from 2016 to 2035. They say the ESDC needs to consider how decades more development will affect surrounding neighborhoods.

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Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Court ruling: State broke law okaying Atlantic Yards, new review ordered

Courthouse News Service, Brooklyn Development Project Dealt New Blow

The Village Voice, Brooklyn Court Rules that Atlantic Yards Project Needs More Review, Developers Will Still Open Arena This Fall

Posted by steve at 3:47 PM

April 13, 2012

Court: More environmental analysis needed at Atlantic Yards project

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

As is (sadly) all to often the case, the Bergen Record's John Brennan is more on top of the Atlantic Yards story than most of his New York City brethren.

A New York State Appellate Court panel – in upholding New York Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman’s ruling from last July – dismantled the case made by the project’s backers, including ESDC, piece-by-piece.

To clarify up front for Nets fans who know that the $1 billion Barclays Center is scheduled to open in September: this ruling does not derail that opening.

But it does complicate matters for project developers who, in a second phase, are supposed to complete work on most of the 16 skyscrapers around the arena. That work, while of no direct impact on North Jersey sports fans, is of great importance in Brooklyn communities to when – or whether – the project ever produces anywhere near the jobs and affordable housing numbers touted when the project was in its pre-development stages years ago.
...

Sounds like ESDC has some ‘splainin’ to do. I’ll be curious to see if the mainstream New York media digs deeper, considering we have a multi-billion New York City project here – and successive court rulings rebuking the judgment of the state agency that is supposed to be the people’s watchdog to make sure the project rolls out properly.

Emphasis, ours.

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NoLandGrab: If the ESDC hadn't failed to disclose material information, New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman would likely have required a supplemental environmental review and state reauthorization that would have prevented Bruce Ratner from beating the December 31, 2009 deadline to secure tax-free financing, rendering him unable to raise the funds necessary to build. Therefore, from this point forward, we'll be referring to it as the "fraudulently constructed Barclays Center."

Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Atlantic Yards Foes Win In Court, But Impact is Unclear

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards project — whose basketball arena is nearing completion at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues — are demanding changes to the mega-development in the wake of an appellate court ruling today that officials violated state environmental law by allowing the project’s developer far more time to finish the job.

Proponents, or better put, Forest City's state lackeys, are singing a different tune...

Empire State Development Corporation Director Arana Hankin issued a statement: “Although Empire State Development is disappointed with the decision, we are fully committed to building a world-class development that will bring thousands of jobs and affordable housing to Brooklyn. The decision does not prevent the arena opening this fall, nor does it affect any aspect of Phase I development, and we will continue working toward the full build-out of the project.”

WNYC, Court Upholds Atlantic Yards Project Ruling

Brooklyn Council Member Letitia James who has long criticized the project said "its clear that if the facts regarding the impact of the development two years ago, the resulting decision would have halted construction." She added that she believes the decision will affect some of the community enhancing parts of the plan. "We can be almost certain at this point that the jobs and housing originally promised will not come to fruition any time soon...."

New York Magazine Daily Intel, Appellate Court Rebukes State Agency for Backing Atlantic Yards

The ruling also backs community claims that there was something fishy about how the state agency went to bat for Forest City Ratner's $4.9 billion project. When the state chose not to study the environmental impact of an extended 25-year buildout in 2009, it helped Forest City meet a crucial deadline and save more than $100 million on tax-exempt bonds.

Reuters, Appeals court calls for review of Atlantic Yards project

An attorney for Develop Don't Destroy, Jeffrey Baker, said his clients were "pleased that (Thursday's) ruling vindicates everything we've been saying since 2009."

"What's disappointing is that we now have further proof from this court that the arena would never have even started construction if EDSC and Forest City Ratner had been honest about the process," Baker said.

Prospect Heights Patch, Appellate Court Orders Additional Review for Atlantic Yards Project

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Appellate panel confirms state review of Atlantic Yards was illegal

AP via NBC New York, Court: Atlantic Yards Need Environmental Review

Posted by eric at 2:04 PM

How the appellate court, in its way, backed up Lupica: "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start"

Atlantic Yards Report

After the March 2010 Barclays Center groundbreaking, Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica commented, "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start."

The hustle wouldn't have worked without help from Ratner's partner in government, the Empire State Development Corporation, aka Empire State Development (ESD), which had recently completed a clever, devious move, withholding the Development Agreement for Atlantic Yards, thus obscuring the project timetable.

Now the ESD, courts have said definitively, chose expediency over candor, in order to get Atlantic Yards re-approved in 2009 and to enable that groundbreaking. However little the decision may change things on the ground, it's a moral victory and an important message about honest government and the lack thereof. That's news, though not everyone thinks so.

"But the reason why we think Forest City will go forward with this project, and we have every reason to believe so, is that we have a Development Agreement with Forest City that requires it to do so," agency attorney Philip Karmel said in court in January 2010, as detailed below. "I don't know what else ESDC can do."

Well, it could have released that document, which would have revealed how the developer had 12 years to build Phase 1 and 25 years for Phase 2, rather than incentives to get the whole thing done in a decade.

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Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Brooklyn Critics Finally Win, But It Won't Effect Barclays Center

NetsDaily

"Won't effect Barclays Center?" Who writes this stuff? NetsDaily should maybe pony up a few bucks to hire a real, actual journalist to navigate the perils of effect vs. affect.

After years of trying, critics of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards finally won a significant victory when a state appeals court ruled unanimously that later stages of the construction will need a new environmental review. The ruling does not affect either Barclays Center or the three high rise apartment towers planned around the arena.

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Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

April 12, 2012

Atlantic Yards Loses in Court. Court Slams ESDC and Orders New Project Review

VICTORY IN COURT FOR DDDB & COMMUNITY

Unanimous Appellate Court Decision Slams ESDC, Forces NY State to Do Supplemental Review and New Approval of Ratner's Atlantic Yards Project

Golden Opportunity for Governor Cuomo To Fix the Atlantic Yards Debacle

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), BrooklynSpeaks and all of their co-plaintiff community groups have won another victory in court over the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner—their second in a row.

In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court today found that Justice Marcy Friedman correctly ruled in July 2011 that the ESDC's 2009 approval of Atlantic Yards' Modified General Project Plan violated State environmental law.

The decision upholds the lower court's order that the ESDC initiate a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and new approval process on Phase 2 of the Atlantic Yards project, which includes the bulk of the 22 acre project and the bulk of the non-arena portion of the demolished site.

A public hearing on the SEIS will be mandatory.
...

"The fact is that the project should never have been approved at all—it is entirely illegitimate," said DDDB's legal director Candace Carponter. "The tragedy here is, but for the blatant misrepresentations to the Court by Forest City Ratner and ESDC, it would been determined in 2010 that an SEIS was required and that would have stopped construction of Barclays Arena. ESDC's dishonesty has allowed that to go forward and the community is already feeling the adverse impacts that have long been forecast. We hope that ESDC will abandon its servile devotion to Forest City Ratner and start representing the citizens of this area."

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Posted by eric at 3:46 PM

Appellate Court smacks down ESD, upholds decision ordering new study of long-term Atlantic Yards impact, requires new approval of Phase II

Atlantic Yards Report

(This will be updated.)

In a unanimous decision with almost no chance for appeal, a state appellate court has unanimously upheld a lower court's decision to require the state to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement regarding the second phase of Atlantic Yards and to re-approve the second phase.

In other words, the state should not have misled the public with its irrational insistence that Atlantic Yards could be built in a decade rather than, as is likely, a much longer period, even 25 years, as allowed by a belatedly released Development Agreement.

Nor did the state analyze the possibility of a scenario "in which area residents must tolerate vacant lots, above-ground arena parking, and Phase II construction staging for decades."

The case, known as Matter of Develop Don't Destroy (Brooklyn), Inc. v Empire State Dev. Corp., involves two sets of petitioners, a coalition led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and another led by members of Brooklyn Speaks. Both the Empire State Development Corporation (aka Empire State Development) and Forest City Ratner were defendants.

The decision has no impact on the Barclays Center arena, but complicates Forest City Ratner's plans regarding Phase II and casts a further shadow over the questionable approval process for the project. It also endorses skepticism about whether the promised jobs and affordable housing will be delivered in the long-promised ten years.

The defendants can appeal, but given the unanimous decision and the emphatic language, it's very unlikely.

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Posted by eric at 12:42 PM

BREAKING: State Court of Appeals agrees that 2009 Atlantic Yards plan was approved illegally

BrooklynSpeaks sponsors demand Governor and Mayor intervene to reduce project impacts, deliver promised housing and jobs

BrooklynSpeaks via press release

In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court today found that Justice Marcy Friedman correctly ruled in July 2011 that the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) 2009 approval of Atlantic Yards’ Modified General Project Plan violated State environmental law. Among other changes, the plan renegotiated in 2009 between the State and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) extended Atlantic Yards’ construction schedule from 10 to 25 years. Justice Friedman’s order that the ESDC conduct additional environmental analyses and revisit the project plan will remain in effect.

“ESDC’s decision to appeal was deeply disappointing both to the community and to its elected representatives, who had pressed the agency to comply with the court order,” said Jo Anne Simon, 52nd District Democratic Leader. “Now that the Appellate Division has upheld the lower court’s decision, we strongly urge Governor Cuomo to act to restore credibility to this process, and direct his agency to conduct a thorough and transparent assessment of the environmental impact of this project on central Brooklyn that involves our communities in a meaningful way.”

BrooklynSpeaks sponsors had argued against the appeal, contending that ESDC fast-tracked its approval of the 2009 schedule concessions demanded by Forest City in order to allow FCRC to meet a deadline necessary for its arena bonds to qualify as tax-exempt. “ESDC’s actions saved the developer hundreds of millions in interest payments,” said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, “but at the cost of thousands of units of affordable housing being delayed for decades. The Appellate Division ruling gives the Governor an opportunity to put the project’s public benefits back on the schedule promised.”

The Appellate Division rejected arguments by ESDC and Forest City that the impacts of 25 years of construction to surrounding neighborhoods were likely to be less severe than if Atlantic Yards were completed in 10 years, writing that such a conclusion “is not based on any technical studies of the environmental impacts of protracted construction. It is supported by the mere assertion that the build-out will result in prolonged but less "intense" construction and that most environmental impacts are driven by intensity rather than duration.” Significantly, the Appellate Division noted that ESDC “failed to consider an alternative scenario in which years go by before any Phase II construction is commenced — a scenario in which area residents must tolerate vacant lots, above-ground arena parking, and Phase II construction staging for decades.”

“In the two years since this suit was filed, nearby communities have had a ringside view of continued violations of Atlantic Yards’ stated commitments on air quality, noise and truck safety,” said Danae Oratowski, Chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “Less than six months before Barclays Center opens, we have yet to see the developer’s plans for parking and traffic management, or the City’s plans for crowd control and security. Today’s ruling should be a wake-up call for Mayor Bloomberg to engage the community and work together both to limit the impacts of continued construction, as well as to reduce the effect of the operation of an arena amid historic residential neighborhoods.”

“ESDC not only has allowed Forest City Ratner to steamroll local residents and their elected representatives, but has also played a role in violating State law to the developer’s advantage,” said Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “Taken together with recent revelations of Forest City’s connection to political corruption cases in Brooklyn and Yonkers, today’s ruling shows the need to reform oversight of Atlantic Yards is more urgent than ever. The New York State Assembly has already passed legislation requiring ESDC to create a subsidiary to oversee the project. We now need swift action on the bill by the State Senate, and a commitment by Governor Cuomo to ensure Atlantic Yards is accountable to the public.”

Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

Prokhorov in Brooklyn: the conquering hero, except to one columnist paying attention

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder also rounds up the saturation coverage of The Great Prokhorov, some of which we've already covered.

Well, Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to Brooklyn Tuesday to look at the under-construction Barclays Center arena and pretty much conquered the fawning sports press, with one notable exception.

(Prokhorov with Bruce Ratner, in photo from the Nets' web site.)

Here are some of the headlines, which hint at the low level of actual news:

The NY1 piece is particularly egregious, since it's not "his" arena (he's junior partner to Bruce Ratner in operating a nominally state-owned facility), nor does he "foresee" so much as "aspire" or "b.s."
...

No AYR at the press conference

Why wasn't I there? I was told it was for "accredited media" only, so they wouldn't let me in.

Then again, Prokhorov, according to the boosterish NetsDaily blogger "Net Income," aka Bob Windrem, "appreciates bloggers in both sports and politics" and was welcomed to Prokhorov's luxury box. It apparently depends on the bloggers.

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Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

Barclays Center liquor license follow-up: CB2 approval, Patch coverage

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder rounds up the stray coverage of the Barclays Center liquor-license hearing.

In CB2 Toasts Barclays Center Booze Permit, The Local reports:

Community Board 2’s vote rubber-stamped a committee’s approval one night earlier of the license in exchange for promises to involve the community and crack down on underage drinking and post-game filth. That approval came after intense debate, but there was little discussion by the full board last night.

“Barclays Center, here we come!” hailed CB2 Chairman John Dew after the vote.

My comment:

Despite Mr. Dew's triumphant tone, I'm not sure this article should share it. The resolution approved includes fairly onerous reservations. Some regard expected but delayed actions: transportation and security plans.

The Community Advisory Committee is doable, but there was no sign it's actually coming. And, as the article indicates, Levy opposes the use of ID readers.

Also, we didn't hear what Levy and developer Forest City Ratner think of a review of the license in one year, but it's unlikely they're thrilled about it.

I'd add that there may be a divide on the board, with Dew having fewer reservations about the Barclays Center than some CB 2 members. I'll note that one CB 2 member told me after the committee meeting Tuesday that they were forbidden to talk to the press.

Patch report

This morning Patch produces Community Residents Have Reservations About Barclays Center Liquor License, a thorough article that's only about a day late.

The article, like the WNYC coverage, included a reference to one supporter I didn't mention in my article:

However, not everyone in the room was against approving the liquor license. David Vendley, the co-owner of Calexico, a restaurant on Union Street, said that the community should support Barclays and their liquor license.

“I like to drink beer at games, but I don’t want to get drunk. To lump everyone who drinks at arenas together and say that selling liquor is going to create an unruly group of people in a gross assumption,” David Vendley said.

Vendley has a point, but the committees are concerned because there's just much less of a margin for error, given the arena's location.

link

Related content...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], CB2 Toasts Barclays Center Booze Permit

Park Slope Patch, Community Residents Have Reservations About Barclays Center Liquor License

WNYC, Neighborhood Raises Concerns About Alcohol at Barclay's Center

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

April 11, 2012

Make Barclays Liquor Sales Work for the Community

Prospect Heights Patch
by Gib Veconi

Here's a bit of common-sense commentary from the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council's Gib Veconi.

Let’s be clear: The question is not whether Forest City Ratner has hired a reputable, experienced firm to run the food and beverage concessions at the Barclays Center arena. The question is not whether the arena will enforce State laws against underage drinking and patrons walking out the doors with drinks in their hands. And the question is most certainly not whether Barclays Center should be like all other U.S. sports facilities, which are able to serve alcohol. Let’s assume the answer to those questions is yes.

The real question is on what terms Barclays Center should be granted a license to open a bar with 18,000 seats. And right now the answer is, we don’t know.

We don’t know because Barclays has yet to release a code of conduct for its patrons. We don’t know because the NYPD hasn’t yet announced a plan for maintaining order and safety before and after arena events. We don’t know because Forest City Ratner has yet to explain how the parking lot two avenues east of the arena is going to be operated. And we don’t know because the representatives from Barclays who attended last night’s meeting of Community Boards 2 and 6 could not even commit to a time after which sales of alcohol at the arena would be cut off.

It’s not even clear that the arena operations team has thought through its crowd control strategy yet. At last night’s meeting, Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association pointed out that the largest exit from Barclays Center is onto residential Dean Street. David Anderson of arena operator AEG stated that patrons would be directed away from Dean Street and on to Flatbush Avenue. That won’t work—Mr. Anderson apparently did not realize that an 1,100-car parking lot for arena patrons lies two avenues to the east down Dean Street.

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NoLandGrab: Geography's hard! We're confident all other aspects of arena security are under control though, right?!

Posted by eric at 10:49 PM

As Brooklyn Paper whiffs on liquor license story, Veconi (on Patch) points out the unknowns--and how arena operators don't (yet) get it

Atlantic Yards Report

So what if the Brooklyn Paper's print deadlines might cut into coverage of Tuesday night events.

Would you believe the newspaper ignored the joint Community Board meeting last night on the Barclays Center liquor license?

It did.

(Former Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman, now at The Local, did a solid job covering it.)

Instead, the newspaper brings us the news and fluff listed at right.

Patch, by the way, had a reporter there, but I haven't seen a story yet.

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Posted by eric at 10:41 PM

Liquor license for new Barclays Center arena sparks fight in Prospect Heights

Boozy crowds will disrupt neighborhood, locals say

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin

A boozy battle has broken out over a liquor license for the new Nets arena.

Residents worry liquored-up hordes of fans will wreak havoc in their streets after games and other events at the Prospect Heights arena.

The venue is virtually certain to get a license before it opens in September, but many locals want it held up until developer Forest City Ratner come out with security and transportation plans and a code of conduct for the arena.

“I’m just urging that we slow it down,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights), who said she’s been asking for transportation and security plans for over a year.
...

Barclays Center officials said while liquor would be sold by 57 spots in the arena plus hawkers in the stands, they would check IDs strictly, refuse to serve anyone who looks intoxicated, and cut off sales before the end of events.

“We take it extremely seriously. Responsible alcohol service is the number one thing we want to ensure,” said Julie Margolin, director of operations for Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, which will handle food and liquor at the arena.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, Levy intends to serve alcohol the same way they do in the rest of the 70% of NBA arenas they handle, and we know no one is ever drunk or unruly in any of those venues, right?

Related coverage...

Gothamist, Locals Fear Nets Arena Liquor License Will Cause "More Dead Cyclists And Pedestrians"

Posted by eric at 10:32 PM

Mesothelioma Scores? Asbestos May Drive Islanders to Brooklyn for Good

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

The Observer's Chaban, who is good enough to know better, piles on with the nonsense.

We already know that the first game to be played at the Barclays Center will not be basketball but hockey, as the New York Islanders are playing an exhibition game there. There has been a lot of talk about the team moving there for good, after its lease runs out at the Nassau Coliseum in 2015.

This has been seen by some as a bargaining move for team management to get a new arena approved, but it could become a reality as soon as next season. A state investigation has found asbestos at the coliseum, according to The Brooklyn Paper, and if it’s not cleaned up before next season starts, the Islanders will be looking to leave.
...

The Paper points out that the move would keep the team from taking on debt to build a new arena, though this would also be the smallest in the league, at 14,500 seats.

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NoLandGrab: The "move," which is never happening anyway given the abysmally bad configuration and sight lines, would also guarantee the Islanders a profit-free existence in someone else's building.

And as Norman Oder points out in the comments, no state investigation has found asbestos — a lawsuit alleges its presence. A state investigation is ongoing.

Posted by eric at 10:17 PM

Billionaire Nets Owner Won't Be Your New Neighbor [POLL]

The Russian billionaire claims he would just "drive up the prices" in the neighborhoods surrounding the Barclays Center.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

From the department of inane polls:

Did Mikhail Prokhorov snub Brooklyn, or do us all a favor?

  • Prokhorov purchasing a house near the Barclays Center would have driven up prices for sure. No thanks!
  • Oh well, it could have been exciting to have a Russian billionaire for a neighbor!

How about a third choice?

  • Why is this a news story?

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Posted by eric at 10:06 PM

One of these things is not like the other...

At last night's joint Community Board 2 and 6 hearing on the Barclays Center liquor-license application, arena Director of Security David Anderson and Dean Street resident and activist Peter Krashes had the following exchange, according to Atlantic Yards Report:

Peter Krashes of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and the Dean Street Block Association, observed, "You all get the idea that you're going to be operating the arena in a relatively unique situation... Our neighborhood is going to be integrated into the operational plans of the arena. We have bedrooms facing the street. We have kids who have to go to school the next day and are going to have an arena event happening on a Thursday night... You guys have a special obligation."

(At [right] is Krashes on residential Dean Street, the straightest path between the arena and the planned interim surface parking lot.)

He asked Margolin and David Anderson, director of security, for examples in other cities where they have made it work. Secondly, he asked, how does the community keep them accountable, given that, in his opinion, "we've had a lot of problems with accountability leading up to this point... you can say you're going to sell two drinks per ID, but... If people walk down the street, yelling and shouting on Dean Street, how do we hold you two accountable?"

Anderson responded, "The experience I've had as far as dealing with an arena in a neighborhood, I've had a few, one was United Center in Chicago, which was just on the West Side of Chicago. We had the same situation, there's a similar situation, and when I came on board here, I understood everything that you guys were going through here....

Apparently not. Here's the "same situation" in Chicago, via Google Earth:

Maybe he means the "same situation" once Bruce Ratner finishes transforming Prospect Heights.

Top photo: Norman Oder

Posted by eric at 1:53 PM

Community Board committees say inevitable Barclays Center liquor license should not go forward without community outreach, negotiation

Atlantic Yards Report

Committees of Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 6, urging attention to the Barclays Center's unique placement in and near residential districts, both last night urged caution to the operators of the Barclays Center arena, saying they were unwilling to support the venue's inevitable liquor license without reservations.

After a 2.5-hour hearing in a standing-room only meeting room at the 78th Precinct stationhouse just a block from the arena site, a CB 6 committee tabled any vote on the liquor license, then voted to urge the applicant, Levy Restaurants, to set up a community liaison group to address residents' concerns.

(Photos and set by Tracy Collins)

A CB 2 committee voted to approve the license, but with heavy reservations, including issues that are related but not exactly in Levy's hands: developer Forest City Ratner's issuance of a transportation demand management plan, which was promised in December but has been delayed until May, and a clarified arena security plan, which involves coordination of arena operations with the New York Police Department, which has yet to assign a precinct to be in charge of policing the arena.

The full boards also will make their recommendations, and then have a chance to again weigh in when the State Liquor Authority holds a hearing on the 500-foot rule, required when there are other nearby establishments. The SLA is expected to approve the application; the question is whether the process will impose any conditions on the operator.

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Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Mixed Drinks as Two Community Boards Send Different Messages of Temperance

Two Brownstone Brooklyn community boards sent different messages of temperance to Barclays Center officials who were seeking approval for the arena’s liquor license last night — but both boards agreed that arena operators need to do more to ensure that quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods will not be destroyed by thousands of boozed-up basketball fans.
...

“This is a win,” said Councilwoman Letitia James, the Fort Greene Democrat who had demanded that the liquor license bid be suspended until “all of those outstanding issues can be resolved.”
...

“There will be drinking and driving,” said Hildegaard Link, a member of Community Board 6. “How many more dead bicyclists and pedestrians to we need? This is not a joke.”

NY Post, Net ‘shot’ blockers

“We have so many new bars coming and now they want to set up 57 stations in the arena to sell liquor. It’s just too much,” said Community Board 6 member Pauline Blake.

threecee via flickr, 2012 Barclays Center Arena Liquor License Public Meeting

Posted by eric at 1:37 PM

Mikhail Prokhorov, like the Nets, is a work in progress

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

The Star-Ledger's sports columnist throws some cold vodka on the Prokhorov myth.

As everyone knows, there’s no better substitute for substantive dialogue than a photo op and some glib remarks while standing in front of a construction site.

So in keeping with this tradition, Mikhail Prokhorov faced the media inside a dusty Barclays Center in Brooklyn Tuesday, and answered questions for the first time in 14 months.
...

But glib is what Prokhorov does well, yet if you’re looking for something substantial, keep looking. He never gives the impression that he is in control of the Nets franchise, as even his clichés — “It is easy to have a playoff team, but it is very difficult to have a championship team, so we need to be very patient and go step by step” — are diametrically opposed to what his GM practices.

So it occurs to you: Prokhorov can’t speak of the future because he knows very little about the present. He threw some names out there (Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks) to signify that he’s been paying attention, but overall, he still sounds less engaged than the average towel boy.

It’s time to admit the obvious: We’re talking about an absentee owner here, as this guy never really had any intention of doing much more than writing checks.

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Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Owner Says the Nets and a New Arena Remain Hard-Hat Zones

The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir

Jim Dolan must wish he had Mikhail Prokhorov's PR people.

Mikhail D. Prokhorov said he could not discuss contract talks with Deron Williams.

“For the time being, it’s top secret,” Prokhorov, the Nets’ majority owner, said Tuesday during a news conference inside the unfinished Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Why the omertà about the point guard so essential to the team’s future?

“N.B.A. rules prohibit me from comment on a potential contract,” he said. “Please wait for summer.”

When reminded by a reporter that he is not prohibited from discussing his own free agent, he quickly shed his self-imposed gag order.

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Related coverage...

NY Post, Nets owner mentions 'kickboxing' Mavericks over Deron

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a message for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: Pursue Deron Williams at your own risk.

“Let the best man win,” the Russian billionaire said with a smile inside the shell of the Nets’ future home, the Barclays Center, during Tuesday’s press conference in Brooklyn. “If he wins, I’ll crush him in a kickboxing throwdown.”

CBS New York, Prokhorov Coy On ‘Top Secret’ Williams Situation, Asks Nets Fans For Patience

Hang Time Blog, NETS’ BROOKLYN DREAM IS A REALITY

The Brooklyn Paper, Prokhorov isn’t looking for a Brooklyn pied-a-terre

Posted by eric at 1:12 PM

Mikhail Prokhorov in his own words

The InterNets [NYDailyNews.com]
by Stefan Bondy

The Daily News, in just publishing a transcript of Nets' principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov's comments to the media yesterday, is actually doing us a favor by not layering on the fawning NetsDaily-type "most interesting man in the world" blather.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov spoke to the media today at the construction site of the Barclays Center. This is what he said:

Opening statement: When I bought a share of the Barclays Center together with my partner, we had a joke, that I became a partnership in a hole. But now I’m quite happy that we are all here. And with my partner Bruce Ratner and I, we held on to that vision. We saw the future. And we saw that it will be really a wonderful venue for all the Brooklynites. And we saw that it will be a joy and excitement for all the community. The Nets, like the arena, is still under construction. It’s on the building stage and I will keep my prediction of a championship. I will do my best, together with my friends, together with my partners, we will make the Brooklyn Nets the champions of the NBA. And I am very committed to this.

Thoughts on arena? It’s not my first visit to the arena. Now it looks really good. So I think just welcome the 21st century. I’m sure it will be the best arena in the world. And I am proud to have a partner like Bruce Ratner and we can do together a great miracle. So now we have practically the state of the art arena, and we need to have a genius team. All this combination will give another emotion, another joy, another excitement to the great borough, Brooklyn.

What will it take to build Nets to title contender? So first of all I want to tell that we need to be very patient because it’s easy to have a good team, and playoff team. And it’s very difficult to make a championship team. We need to be really patient. We need to go really slow step to find the best pieces for the team. Not only just really good players. But we need to have the players which can be one very strong single team. Just team spirit. What we need. And we are really on the right way.

If it's "easy to have a good team," what's stopping the Nets from achieving even mediocrity?

Mr. Proky, in your visits what do you think of Brooklyn? So I think I read the article in the Daily News that said that every 9-out-of-10 Brooklynites quite happy for the arena for the team moving. And I feel that Brooklyn deserves a professional team since the time the Dodgers left in 1957. And of course I know there is some kind of skeptical criticism, and of course it’s impossible to make happy just everyone....

article

NoLandGrab: "It’s impossible to make happy just everyone?" Could it be that Mr. Prokhorov is reading NoLandGrab, too, and not just nonsense from the Daily News?

Posted by eric at 12:56 PM

Atlantic Yards and 311: An open letter to Mayor Bloomberg

Atlantic Yards Watch

Recently, we were informed by representatives of your office that all callers reporting Atlantic Yards incidents to 311 would be required to identify the location of the incident as “620 Atlantic Avenue” so 311 would be able to identify the report as being related to Atlantic Yards. This is the case even if the incident being reported is blocks away from 620 Atlantic Avenue. Frankly, we don’t think this is going to work. For the last eight years, thousands of people living near the project have been used to thinking of the site as “Atlantic Yards” or “Barclays Center,” in part because Forest City Ratner has spent hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of dollars publicizing those names. Nobody recognizes “620 Atlantic Avenue.” However, we were told that enabling the 311 system to key incident reports to “Atlantic Yards” or “Barclays Center” would require the entire system to be rewritten.

We admit we found this hard to believe. It doesn’t seem possible that 311 is unable to take a report based on a common place name instead of a street address. We doubt many people know the street addresses of Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, or Citi Field, for instance. We would like to think that a person calling 311 about a problem at the Grand Army Plaza subway station would be able to be served.

article

NoLandGrab: Maybe there should be a separate phone number for reporting ceaseless Atlantic Yards infractions. Do you think 666 is taken?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch: maybe "620 Atlantic Avenue" isn't such a good ID for AY-related incidents

Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

April 10, 2012

Long Island’s asbestos may send hockey to Barclays Center

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

Will the Islanders-to-Brooklyn nonsense never cease?

Nassau Coliseum’s asbestos problem could be the Barclays Center’s biggest coup.

A state investigation into claims that the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum — where the New York Islanders’ hockey team plays its home games — is filled with the cancer-causing fiber could bring the team to the $1-billion, asbestos-free Prospect Heights arena if the lethal substance isn’t removed by the start of next season.

The state Department of Labor launched a probe of the Long Island sports complex on March 30, after more than 75 workers alleged the facility was filled with asbestos in a bombshell lawsuit filed against Nassau County, which owns the Coliseum.

“The whole place is covered in it,” said Joseph Dell, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “The county is responsible for keeping Nassau Coliseum safe but it never renovated it or did an asbestos abatement.”
...

State labor officials did not return calls seeking comment, but county officials said they conducted a study last month that found small amounts of asbestos in areas of the Coliseum that are off-limits to the public.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Islanders to Brooklyn? Asbestos problem at Nassau Coliseum under investigation

Are the New York Islanders headed for the Barclays Center because of an asbestos problem at the Nassau Coliseum?

That's the suggestion in a Courier-Life article about charges filed by a plaintiffs' attorney:

If a cleanup of the Nassau Coliseum stretches beyond the start of the hockey season this fall — or if the asbestos problem forces county officials to close the arena — the Islanders would be forced to find a new home, and the Barclays Center is an easy option....

An asbestos-abetted move to Brooklyn is all but inevitable according to sports talking heads including Mike Francesa.

Well, that same article quoting the authoritative sports talking heads stated:

Asbestos contamination has been found in four locations throughout the Nassau Coliseum , but inspection reports show air quality is safe in public areas of the arena, according to a consulting firm hired by Nassau County.

The attorney says a study he ordered showed cancer-causing asbestos in numerous public areas. For now the issue is unresolved, given a new state investigation.

New York Islanders Adrift, Nassau Coliseum Consider Safe for the Public even with Asbestos

Park Slope Patch, With Nassau Coliseum Asbestos Woes, Islanders Could Move to Barclays Center

NoLandGrab: Next week's headline: "Could vampire-bat infestation mean Islanders will play home games in Brooklyn?"

Posted by eric at 12:18 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: Forest City pays new attention to dust problem, but AY Watch shows that dirt pile is again left partly uncovered

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 4/9/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, contains an implicit admission that not enough has been done to contain dust at the site.

The alert discloses a response to significant dust problems--documented by Atlantic Yards Watch--on Block 1129, the southeast block used for construction staging and destined for interim surface parking.

"A full time laborer has been hired to manage dust suppression on Block 1129," the alert states, though it's unclear whether the laborer's full-time job is to manage dust suppression.

Nor is it clear what impact that worker has had. There's clearly much more to be done, since, as documented yesterday by Atlantic Yards Watch, the pile of dirt on Block 1129, which was long uncovered but belatedly covered, was again left partly uncovered, leading to dust blowing off the site.

article

Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

Developer Bruce Ratner shows #NETS owner Mikhail Prokhorov the future practice court

netsbasketball via yfrog

link

NoLandGrab: "There, Patti Hagan, right over there!"

Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

Slope battles another bar near Barclays

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

Park Slope residents say a planned music venue just blocks from the soon-to-open Barclays Center gives new meaning to the term “bad chemistry.”

Neighbors of the proposed Kemistry Lounge on Flatbush Avenue say a venue with live performances, DJs, a full bar, dancing, and an exit on a residential block of Prospect Place will bring noise and ruckus to their quiet community.

“It’s disruptive; it turns the street into liquor lane,” said neighbor Harold Gruber. “It’s going to make it impossible to sleep.

article

NoLandGrab: Speaking of liquor lane, don't forget the Barclays Center liquor-license hearing tonight at the 78th Precinct, 65 Sixth Avenue, at 6:30 p.m.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

Crime Report: Lots of Robberies And Other Mayhem

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

If it's "lots of robberies and other mayhem," it's got to be Bruce Ratner's malls.

Daffy’s Ducked

A shopper at Daffy’s inside the crime-ridden Atlantic Center Mall had her wallet stolen as she tried on shoes on March 31, police said.

The 73-year-old victim told cops that she had put her bag down inside the store, which is on Atlantic Avenue near Flatbush Avenue, at around 5 p.m. When she tried to pay for her items, she discovered that her wallet was missing. When she called her credit card companies, she was told that the thief had already rung up more than $1,000 in purchases.

Thrice the Trouble at Target

Thieves preyed on shoppers at the Target inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall last week. Here are the details:

  • A criminal swiped a wallet off a shopping cart inside the department store on April 2 at around 3 p.m., cops said. The shopper said that she lost cards and a phone charger.
  • A woman had her bag stolen while shopping at around 5 p.m. on April 4, losing a variety of cards, but cancelling them before the crook could buy anything.
  • And the next day, a thief stole a purse from a shopper’s cart, getting away with $100 and various cards.

article

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

EB-5 follies: are immigrant investor funds going into the Brooklyn arena?

Atlantic Yards Report

Like a game of telephone, news can be distorted along the line. Take for example coverage in Bloomberg Business Week about the EB-5 program of investment immigration...

article

Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

April 9, 2012

Arena Foes Will Fight Barclays Center Booze Permit

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

Thousands of boozed-up sports fans will pour out of the Barclays Center onto local streets after games, ruining the quality of life for residents of the low-rise neighborhoods nearby — so the state should hold off on giving the arena a liquor license until some mitigation plan is in place, say opponents, who will converge on a public hearing tomorrow night over the booze permit.

It is virtually impossible to conceive of a sports venue not serving beer, wine or liquor — indeed, even the home of the Utah Jazz in famously dry Salt Lake City sells alcohol. But the joint Community Board 2 and 6 hearing tomorrow has Barclays Center foes sounding a bit like Carrie Nation.

“The arena is a monstrocity to begin with, but with a liquor license, there will be drunk guys vomiting and peeing in the street,” said Wanda Fleck, a resident of nearby Boerum Hill who opposes the license, though it is not likely that the State Liquor Authority will deny the permit.

Opponents say they understand that reality, but object to the permit on the grounds that neither arena operators nor their food service providers, Levy Restaurants, have presented any evidence that they will be able to handle the sheer quantity of drunk customers as they leave events at the 18,000-seat arena.

“It’s premature for them to get community board support for a liquor license when they haven’t even made public any plans for security or crowd control of 18,000 people,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and a Prospect Heights resident. “They haven’t shown how they can protect quality of life for the neighbors.”
...

Barclays Center officials did not return repeated requests for comment for this story, saying that the company will answer questions on Tuesday night.

The silence from Barclays officials serves only to magnify opponents’ main concern that arena operators have not provided any evidence that they can and will control crowds after events. As such, booze sales should be curtailed earlier than the start of the fourth quarter — currently, the NBA standard — some foes say.

“A strong argument should be made that Brooklyn’s arena respect its unique situation and [have] a half-time cut-off,” said area resident Jon Crow.

article

Related coverage....

Atlantic Yards Report, With no code of conduct yet for arena, Barclays Center neighbors seek delay on liquor license

The arena encroaches on a residential neighborhood, as the state overrode zoning that requires a 200-foot cordon around a sports facility. Those returning to the interim surface parking lot would walk on sidewalks as narrow as six feet wide.

And the arena code of conduct, promised for this spring, is not yet available. Forest City Ratner officials told The Local they wouldn't comment on the liquor license application until tomorrow night's meeting, at 6:30 pm at the 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, just a block from the arena.

Beer cutoff

One issue: would beer sales be cut off earlier than the start of the fourth quarter, which is the NBA rule, set in 2005, in response to a brawl between players and fans in Detroit.

As I wrote in January, 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, but not until the end of the spring.

Is there any possibility that the beer cutoff could be earlier than the end of the third quarter?

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

Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

Forest City Ratner's 2011 city/state lobbying: 50% jump, with big contract to Kasirer; in Congress, D'Amato's firm lobbied for EB-5, and even got paid for not lobbying

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner may not be among the state's top ten in lobbying expenditures any more, but the firm still dished out more than $500,000 in 2011 to influence legislation and official action in Albany and New York City. The total represents a nearly 50% increase over its spending in 2010, according to online lobby data.

What did the money buy? Well, it aimed to stymie the creation of a new Atlantic Yards governance entity (so far successful); usher in mixed martial arts at venues including the Barclays Center (not yet successful); influence the Department of Buildings, presumably on modular construction (unclear, but the DOB chief is a supporter); stymie (presumably) eminent domain reform (so far successful); and even address ticket scalping, aka "resale" (inconclusive).

Such lobbying expenditures put into perspective the $60,000 contract for a no-show job the firm gave "consultant" Zehy Jereis in 2006 after he helped get Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi to flip her vote in favor of Forest City's Ridge Hill project, the subject of a recent corruption trial. If they can spend half a million bucks on lobbyists, the thought might be, what's another $60K?

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NoLandGrab: Well, at least they're not having to pay Richard Lipsky for lobbying anymore.

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Jersey Fans Ready to Divorce Nets

Though They Tried to Make It Work, It's Time to Go Their Separate Ways

The Wall Street Journal
by Scott Cacciola

Wait, what? We thought they were all supposed to buy season tickets in Brooklyn.

Frank Capece attended his first Nets game 33 years ago when his dentist gave him a pair of tickets as a wedding gift. Apparently his dentist hadn't made him suffer enough.

The twist is that Capece, an attorney from Cranford, N.J., got hooked—hooked on a team of "lovable losers." He invested in courtside season tickets. He screamed at officials. He called opposing players "clowns." He said he missed just four home games over the next 20 years: two because of sickness, one because his daughter was graduating from college and one because he was invited to attend an event at the Clinton White House. "That was a tough choice," he said.

For Nets fans who live in New Jersey, the official end for their local team will come in three weeks, when the Nets play their final game in Newark. Then the team will depart for Brooklyn and its glitzy new home at Barclays Center. But many die-hard fans like Capece said goodbye long ago.
...

Capece also struggled with the notion that he would essentially be paying $80,000 to help the Nets move to Brooklyn.

"That seemed stupid to me," he said. "Besides, my wife wanted a new kitchen."

article

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

After suffering political and financial blows, NJ Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov returns to the U.S.

Prokhorov ready to vie with Mavericks' Mark Cuban for Deron Williams

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

“If you chase two hares, you will catch none.”

Russians are known for speaking in proverbs and this one, preaching constraint, is a relevant cautionary tale for Mikhail Prokhorov as he prepares for his return this week to the United States.

Prokhorov chased two hares, stretching himself thin in recent months. He failed in his presidential bid against Vladimir Putin. His net worth took a reported $5 billion hit in 2011. His Brooklyn-bound team is floundering under the weight of its own ambitions, losing out on Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard and, for the fifth straight season, the playoffs. The Nets lived and faltered by yet another Russian proverb: “If you’re afraid of wolves, don’t go to the woods.” They now risk being devoured by the pack of superstars they hunted.

The oligarch is carrying a defeat streak into his next uphill battle, a fight for Deron Williams that might determine the fate of the Brooklyn Nets for the foreseeable future. His opponent in this war, Mark Cuban, might not wield the same powers of persuasion as Putin, but is increasingly recognized as the frontrunner to snatch Williams in free agency — “a threat,” as characterized by Nets coach Avery Johnson.

article

NoLandGrab: "Failed in his presidential bid against Vladimir Putin?" Hardly. Unlike his failing ownership of the Nets, his phony opposition candidacy worked to Kremlin perfection, with Putin winning election in a deeply tainted landslide. Presumably, though, he's not working secretly with Mark Cuban to send Deron Williams Dallas-bound. That'll work out on its own.

Related content...

Nets Blog [NYPost.com], Prokhorov spends Easter Sunday with the Nets

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov settled into a luxury box at Prudential Center Sunday night shortly before tip-off to watch his team take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Prokhorov, who hasn't attended a home game in over a year, and hasn't seen the Nets play at all since they swept a pair of games against the Raptors in London last year, is scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday morning in Brooklyn at the site of the Barclays Center, where he will tour the facility for the first time.

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

HELLO, BROOKLYN NETS!!!!!!!!

Pro Sports Blogging
by Mark Cook

This cheerleading fan post ends with a dose of cold reality...

So, I ask that Brooklyn fans be patient and support our newest neighbors. It may be a rough beginning for our Basketball team, but New Yorkers know that nothing comes easy for us. Winning in the NBA is no different than it is on the streets that house the Barclays Center.

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NoLandGrab: And since the State of New York can't hand over wins the way it handed over "the streets that house the Barclays Center" (and which used to house houses in which people lived), it may indeed be a rough beginning — and then some.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

April 8, 2012

Brooklyn arena financing (as well as the two NYC stadiums): an exception to the "exception to the exception" in the tax code

Atlantic Yards Report

Would you believe that sports facility financing in New York City is so byzantine that it qualifies as an exception to the third power?

Let's go to What’s the Easiest Way to Cheat on Your Taxes?, a column in today's New York Times Magazine about various questions "you always wanted to ask your accountant:

Why is the tax code so complicated?

The answer, according to most accountants, is simple: “exceptions to the exceptions,” which, typically, are extremely complicated. John Yeutter, a C.P.A. who teaches accounting at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., offered the following example:

RULE: When you buy a bond, you have to pay taxes on the interest payments you receive.

EXCEPTION: You don’t have to pay taxes on interest from municipal bonds (because the federal government wants to make it easy for local governments to borrow money).

EXCEPTION TO THE EXCEPTION: If a municipal bond is used to finance a professional sports arena, you have to pay taxes on the interest (the government doesn’t want to support a sports team).

Now imagine this times a thousand. “Each step along the way is great,” Yeutter says. “But after 100 years, we have a system that is very, very complex.”

Indeed it is, because there's yet another exception.

The new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the Mets' new Citifield in Queens, and the emerging Barclays Center arena (for the Brooklyn Nets) are all financed via a clever scheme, fully tax-exempt.

link

Posted by steve at 8:59 PM

A note from Stephen Witt (but not on AY): "I will be vigilant to be watchful against my own tendencies to have personal axes [to] grind"

Atlantic Yards Report

Readers of this blog know that I have had my differences with the notorious Stephen Witt, known for his irresponsible coverage of Atlantic Yards and, perhaps, a novel based on the Atlantic Yards saga.

Well, others have questioned his credibility. Consider a front-page apology March 8 from David Mark Greaves, publisher of the Bed-Stuy-based Our Time Press, where Witt now works as a Senior Editor:

In last week’s issue of Our Time Press, editor Stephen Witt allowed his emotions to distort his reporting and what resulted were unfair, baseless and unwarranted attacks on the Vannguard Independent Democratic Association...
To further the damage I, who had the responsibility to read the column beyond the headline, did not do my job, and as a result it went out unedited and unproofed, full of errors and rancorous opinion.
The publishers have made Mr. Witt fully aware of the disaster this is... Both Mr. Witt and I deeply apologize for the complete lack of professionalism in allowing that material to appear in the paper.

Witt, who also writes columns, has the right to write opinion--and his problematic report is now labeled "Opinion." The problem is when the opinion is based on little evidence. Witt wrote apologetically:

Henceforth, I will be vigilant to be watchful against my own tendencies to have personal axes [to] grind.

...

Note that no such apology about Witt's reporting ever came from the editors of the Courier-Life chain, which had a larger budget and presumably (but perhaps not) more opportunity for editing.

There Witt covered Atlantic Yards by finding bizarre angles such as letting project supporters claim that project foes were the "real land grabbers" because they moved into former industrial buildings that had been closed and then renovated.

link

Posted by steve at 8:55 PM

In China, EB-5 advertisers "bombard" cellphone users with text advertising

Atlantic Yards Report

How big is the EB-5 immigrant investment business in China?

Well, check out this mention from a 4/6/12 San Jose Mercury News article headlined Wealthy Chinese seek special visas to relocate to Bay Area:

"When I go to China, I get a Chinese cellphone and I am constantly bombarded with EB-5 (advertising) text messages," said Kevin Wright, a consultant with offices in the United States and China.

Who bears the risks?

The article states:

The investor visa, which began in 1992, will expire in September unless Congress reauthorizes it, but experts expect that to happen.
"It has enjoyed bipartisan support," said Peter Joseph, executive director for the Association to Invest In the USA, a trade group that lobbies Congress. "It's about creating jobs without spending anything from the public purse."
Indeed, the risks are borne by the immigrant investors, San Jose immigration attorney Acton Yang said.
"The EB-5 requires a risky investment," he said. "It can't be investing in a security. You can't just buy a house. It has to be a risky investment that will generate employment in the United States."

It may not spend "anything from the public purse," but what about opportunity costs? Should we be "selling" green cards when some projects don't create any new jobs?

And the risks aren't borne merely by the immigrant investors. The risks are borne by the public at large, who accept this program rather than one more focused on protecting the public interest.

link

Posted by steve at 8:47 PM

April 7, 2012

Behind the Times's Yankee Stadium story, a rather shameful failure to pursue balance and serve readers, according to an expert and parks advocate

Atlantic Yards Report

Geoffrey Croft, president, NYC Park Advocates, sends a corrective letter in response to my analysis yesterday of the New York Times's cheerleading coverage of the belated ballfields constructed next to Yankee Stadium, Yankee Stadium controversy down the memory hole: prominent coverage of belated ballfields, no dissenters heard.

His letter is pretty disturbing--and I haven't checked with the Times-- but I did ask him if he was comfortable with me publishing it, and he said yes. His main point: the Times completely ignored dissenting voices, and that's part of a pattern. (Here's more on Croft, from Crain's; be sure to check the comments.)

Unfortunately this is not what has transpired, its a lot more irresponsible than that.

On Monday I took Winnie Hu, a reporter known for her non-critical coverage of the administration, on a tour of the area. She experienced the 20- minute walk along highways and the filthy dangerous parkland along the Harlem River to get to the replacement tennis courts from the old ones that had previously been located in the community. She learned these courts - located in the South Bronx- charge up to $80 an hour. She repeatedly said how expensive that was. Ms. Hu was even told by an employee of the tennis concession that the cafe which they are building on city parkland will be for "members only. "

On our hour plus walk she was informed about the permanent loss of parkland in the community including two ballfields in the shadow of Yankee Stadium no less; she saw the parking garage that replaced a 2.9-acre ballfield which is not going to be replaced; She saw the artificial turf field built on top of a parking garage in the asthma capital of America that regularly reaches temperatures of 145 degrees and greater; she was made aware of the $300 million dollars associated with the replacement parks, not $195 million as she reported.

A week before our tour she was made aware of the our original Broken Promises report, which she said she looked at. She was given access to a few draft pages of our soon-to-be completed, updated Broken Promises report, which goes into great detail of the numerous issues associated with this project including the three-year delay in replacing some park facilities and the fact that there is not a single penny of dedicated funding allocated to maintain these parks. Unfortunately the list goes on and on.

"As I mentioned they will be on high spin mode as this has been a major embarrassment for the administration on the highest levels," I wrote to the reporter in an email a few days before our tour. "For a while Parks including Adrian weren't even allowed to respond to media inquires re: the Yankee/replacement park issues because of the all bs they got caught on. (All requests had to go through City Hall.)"

After our tour she met with seven officials from the city and people associated with the building of Heritage field who were happy to try and make the controversy disappear. The Times complied.

...

According to the New York Times, everything is swell in Yankee replacement park land. I'm happy the Times reporter thought the fields looked nice, and her reporting discovered people playing on them on the first day they were open felt the same. With the enormous taxpayer funds used to build them and the delay is this really a story, much less a front-page story? Obviously not.

They chose not to report on a story that impacts some of the poorest people in the country. This is shameful, irresponsible, but unfortunately not surprising.

link

Posted by steve at 3:10 PM

New Jersey's governor gets called out in the Times for offering tax breaks, but Bloomberg sounds like a white knight (nah)

Atlantic Yards Report

In a front-page New York Times article two days ago, Christie Leaning on Tax Subsidies in Hunt for Jobs, New York Times development reporter Charles Bagli took a tough look at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's approval of "a record $1.57 billion in state tax breaks for dozens of New Jersey’s largest companies after they pledged to add jobs."

But the nut graph gave way too much credit to New York:

The generous distribution of subsidies in New Jersey has come under fire from government-reform groups, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City and some New Jersey landlords, who contend that the programs are an expensive and ineffective form of assistance to wealthy corporations.

However Christie deserves criticism, Bloomberg is hardly pure. After all, when New Jersey tried to lure Fresh Direct, which needs proximity to neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Bloomberg more than matched the subsidies.

Times columnist Michael Powell wisely called Fresh Direct's flirtation with New Jersey "more a feint than a threat" and pointed out that the city exacted no guarantees from the grocer.

Also, I'd add, Bloomberg offered developer Bruce Ratner $100 million--and then nearly $100 million more, later--for his Atlantic Yards arena-cum-skyscrapers project, leveraged by moving the basketball Nets from NJ to Brooklyn.

And Ratner saved well over $100 million thanks to the issuance of federally tax-exempt bonds. Should the feds subsidize the movement of one sports team across state lines? That's not good public policy, but Bloomberg was fine with that.

link

Posted by steve at 3:07 PM

Does the NYC EDC's Seth Pinsky deserve credit for the Atlantic Yards arena? Not quite (but he does for other things)

Atlantic Yards Report

A New York Observer article, headlined online as Let’s Make a Deal! How Mike’s Mild-Mannered Closer Seth Pinsky Got the City Building Again: Dan Doctoroff's protégée picks up the mantle for PlaNYC., in print, as noted below, suggests that New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) President Seth Pinsky also deserves credit for Atlantic Yards.

Here's the lead-off to the article:

Imagine, if you will, the landscape of New York City 15 years hence. A drive to Citi Field in Willets Point takes you past a pleasant if overpriced cluster of residential buildings, rather than seedy chop-shops. Roosevelt Island is home to a sprawling $2 billion applied-sciences campus spinning out an army of developers to populate ping-pong-table-clad start-up clusters from Dumbo to Union Square. On Manhattan’s far West Side, the rezoned stretch of Hudson Yards offers millions of square feet for office space, housing and retail and 14 acres of open public space. You can already see traces of a more built-up, scrubbed-down New York in Luna Park’s freshly-painted Scream Zone, the first new roller-coasters Coney Island has seen in 80 years, and the rapidly-metastasizing arena at Atlantic Yards, which will soon play home court to the rebranded Brooklyn Nets.

It’s hardly a scenario Seth Pinsky could have imagined in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed just seven months into his tenure as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a not-for-profit arm of the Mayor’s office charged with fostering economic growth across the five boroughs.

...Under Mr. Pinsky’s leadership, however, observers say the EDC has transformed itself from a real estate matchmaker for companies seeking office space into a policy-setting organization, spearheading diversification away from the finance, insurance, real estate economy (also known by the unofficial acronym, FIRE, which had rarely seemed more apt). Thanks to what one former employee called Mr. Pinsky’s “savant”-like facility with financing and structuring deals, a number of projects first proposed in the ambitious early years of the Bloomberg administration have begun making real progress. Some of the projects, like Willets Point, have “bedeviled administrations for decades,” noted Mr. Pinsky. And then there’s the EDC’s ultimate sleight of hand: convincing Cornell and Stanford to engage in a bitter rivalry to build a $2 billion tech campus, all by waving a $100 million grant and a swath of land on a sleepy East River isle.

Does Pinksy deserve credit for that "rapidly-metastasizing arena" (which strikes me as a rather poor choice of words)? The article actually doesn't make that case, though NYC EDC did, from the beginning (and before Pinsky's presidency) coordinate the role of other city agencies.

NYC EDC did, however, recommend the use of EB-5 immigrant investor money, in which Forest City Ratner raised more than $200 million of low-interest financing from foreign (mostly Chinese) who were told they were investing in an arena. That may be crafty tactics, but I'm not sure Pinsky should be too proud of it.

link

Posted by steve at 3:03 PM

Is there a place where ideas aren't for sale? Thomas Frank says, "Money has transformed every watchdog"

Atlantic Yards Report

Thomas Frank, in the latest issue of The Baffler, Too Smart to Fail: Notes on an Age of Folly:

I can remember the contempt I felt when I read [Doug] Bandow’s essay, back in 2006. Of course there was a place where ideas weren’t simply for sale, I thought—it was called the professions. Ethical standards kept professionals independent of their clients’ gross pecuniary interests.

These days, though, I’m not so sure. Money has transformed every watchdog, every independent authority. Medical doctors are increasingly gulled by the lobbying of pharmaceutical salesmen. Accountants were no match for Enron. Corporate boards are rubber stamps. Hospitals break unions, and, with an eye toward future donations, electronically single out rich patients for more luxurious treatment.

Too broad a brush? Or does the Atlantic Yards saga offer some backup?

link

Posted by steve at 2:59 PM

April 6, 2012

Devils say didn’t commit to community centre

AP via Yahoo! Sports
by David Porter

Pay attention, folks. You're getting a sneak preview of Brooklyn, 2017.

The New Jersey Devils' top executive took issue Friday with Newark Mayor Cory Booker's recent harsh criticism of him, particularly accusations that the National Hockey League team reneged on a promise to construct a community centre as part of its deal to build the Prudential Center arena five years ago.

Booker ripped chairman and managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek on Wednesday in a news conference in front of the arena, a day after arbitrators ruled in favour of the Devils in a long-running dispute with the city over arena parking revenue. Booker indicated that the city's lawyers were considering legal recourse.

Among other colourful descriptions, Booker called Vanderbeek a "Grade-A huckster" who came to Newark with "a mouthful of promises and pocketful of lies."

One of the unfulfilled promises, Booker said, was that the Devils would build a community centre next to the arena in downtown Newark, the state's largest city.

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NoLandGrab: "Vanderbeek" is Jerseyian for "Ratner."

Posted by eric at 11:23 PM

Yankee Stadium controversy down the memory hole: prominent coverage of belated ballfields, no dissenters heard

Atlantic Yards Report

Beaten again by AYR (and FOS)! But we wondered too how The Times was incapable of finding anyone still upset by the Yankees park grab.

Perhaps what Mayor Mike Bloomberg once said about the Atlantic Yards arena--“Nobody's going to remember how long it took, they're only going to look and see that it was done” --applies to the promises regarding the Yankee Stadium.

I wasn't the only person to notice something odd about the prominent and uniformly positive New York Times coverage today of the ballfields finally built to replace those lost for Yankee Stadium, A Public Park to Rival the Yankees’ Playground, complete with a front-page photo in both local and national editions.

Neil deMause wrote on Field of Schemes, New Bronx ballfields open, six years after old ones razed by Yankees:

For those of you who've been wondering when the new public ballfields on the site of the original Yankee Stadium would finally be opening, well, here they are, only 16 months late, and nearly six years after the neighborhood's old ballfields were bulldozed to make way for the Yankees' new $2 billion stadium and parking garages. As the New York Daily News reports, "The new fields are open to local kids, but only when not under maintenance or being used by teams that buy permits."

Curious choices

de Mause pointed out that the Times never covered "the actual debates over whether [to] build the Yankees' new stadium" that prominently. Remember the Yankees' dubious claim that they would move to New Jersey--away from their historic home and the city's media market--without sufficient subsidies and government help?

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Related content...

Field of Schemes, New Bronx ballfields open, six years after old ones razed by Yankees

What's this? A critic has come out of hiding?

Jordan Moss of Bronx Matters further notes that "in a story regarding a land use issue this big for the Bronx an interview or two with one of the prominent local activists or former community board members who opposed the stadium deal (they were ditched from CB4 by then-BP Adolfo Carrion, Jr.) would have been warranted..."

The New York Times, A Public Park to Rival the Yankees’ Playground

Even onetime opponents of the stadium deal are coming around. “I figured they were going to pull a fast one and give us a little corner somewhere,” said Jerry Figueroa, 43, as he watched his son play ball. “But they’ve made a believer out of me.”

Paul Bales, who exercises in the new parks, said he used to hear people carping about their lost parks at every turn, on trains and buses and in convenience stores.

“Now nobody’s complaining,” Mr. Bales, 40, said. “Everybody got what they wanted: the fans got their stadium, and the community got their parks back. Everything is better.”

NoLandGrab: Aw, everyone loves a happy ending.

Posted by eric at 10:04 PM

Transit connection to arena now said to be less delayed than was reported last month. How so? Construction monitor fudged the timetable.

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner is moving the goalposts so much on construction you'd think they were building a football stadium rather than a basketball arena.

Barclays Center bondholders take note: they moved the goalposts again regarding project construction. And while that may not make it less likely you'll get the interest you expect, it sure raises questions about the credibility of the reports you're getting.

Once a month, real estate consultant Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant that "strives to be the leader in providing consistently excellent construction-related services to the real estate lending and investment community," issues a Site Observation Report report to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (Bank of New York Mellon), Forest City Ratner, and the Empire State Development Corporation.

In the latest report is dated 4/2/12 and based on a visit of 2/23/12 and documents made available 3/20/12, Merritt and Harris began fudging the schedule for the new Transit Connection.

In other words, as with the arena, Merritt and Harris declared the Transit Connection less behind schedule than previously estimated, all because it extended the schedule, with no real explanation.

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Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Consultant: arena curtain wall has several deficiencies that need corrective work

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), dated 4/2/12, reports new problems related to the arena curtain wall, the responsibility of the ill-fated subcontractor ASI Limited, which shut down briefly at the end of last year.

Beyond the delay in preparing and constructing the weathered steel panels, the curtain wall installation has several problems, including "pinched power cables at panel lighting," "misaligned junction between curtain wall panels," and "damaged insulation/vapor barrier on curtain wall panels."

It's not clear how serious the defects are and how long they will take to correct, but ASI Limited is expected to perform the corrective work.

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NoLandGrab: Surely those deficiencies won't affect its blast resistance, though, right? Right?

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

How many workers at the Atlantic Yards arena/transit site? Bondholders don't get told

Atlantic Yards Report

What was it we said about "Reply Hazy - Try Again?"

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), is supposed to tell bondholders how the project is doing.

One thing it typically explains is how many workers are at the site. Below is the excerpt from this month's report, dated 4/2/12, and based on a visit of 2/23/12 and documents made available 3/20/12.

As you can see, we don't really know the number of workers at the site (which excludes the Vanderbilt Yard/Carlton Avenue Bridge) because there are strikes through the numbers. Those were the numbers reported last month, so perhaps this new report was issued carelessly without such an update.

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Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Brooklyn Broadside: What Will Downtown Brooklyn Look Like in the Year 2012?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Dennis Holt

The veteran Eagle columnist swallows a handful of mushrooms and predicts the future of Brooklyn development.

With all the development underway again in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and elsewhere, maybe it’s time for some crystal ball gazing. I’ve picked 2022, 10 years away, because it is safer than picking five years hence.

Andrew Cuomo will be in his second term as president, having been renominated at the 2020 Democratic convention held at Barclays Center. Christine Quinn will have just completed her second term as mayor, and Marilyn Gelber will be in her second term as Brooklyn borough president.

God help us on those first two. Marilyn would be a giant upgrade over the current situation, however.

Can you guess the one topic on which the great prognosticator's Magic 8-Ball keeps returning a "Reply Hazy - Try Again?"

But even I cannot predict how the building of the full Atlantic Yards project will proceed — or when.

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Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

Brooklyn Office Vacancy Rate Puts the Lie To Ratner's Jobs and Tax Revenue Promises

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Looks like those 10,000 permanent office jobs Bruce Ratner and crew kept braying about all these years are going to happen...never. Can't have office jobs without an...office building.

Norman Oder reports on an eye-opening Real Deal article on the whopping 26.8% Class A office vacancy rate in Brooklyn and we eagerly await Dr. Zimbalist's mea culpa (which is more likely to come than the office tower Ratner has long promised)...

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NoLandGrab: "More likely?" More like "as likely."

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Brook Lopez Should Try To Return

From Russia With Dunk
by Raphael Astrow

"From Russia With Dunk?"

We all know that the Nets need to give off a lot of good impressions, perhaps deceptively so, as the season winds down and they relocate to Brooklyn. Firstly, they need to convince fans that the Nets are worth watching.

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NoLandGrab: Best of luck. On the plus side, deception is what you guys do best.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Community Boards 2, 6 To Review Barclays Center Liquor License

Joint Meeting Planned April 10

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Congrats to The Eagle on its new look — a vast improvement.

Community Boards 2 and 6 have both received the statutorily required 30-day notice stating that Levy Premium Foodservice LP and Brooklyn Events Center LLC intend to apply for an on-premises liquor license for the Barclays Center, which straddles the boundary between the two community boards.

The two boards will, therefore, conduct a joint meeting on Tuesday, April 10, to hear a presentation by representatives of the applicant and the arena operator with input from the New York Police Department and review the application.
...

The meeting, set to begin at 6:30 pm, will take place in the auditorium of the 78th Precinct, 65 Sixth Ave., between Bergen and Dean streets. Although not a public hearing, the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment.

Ashley Cotton, a spokesperson for Barclays, told the Eagle, “This is a formal review process. We will meet with the community boards on April 10th to discuss the application and answer their questions.”

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NoLandGrab: Okay, then here's a question — why does a company that's broken every promise it's made to the community deserve the community's support for its liquor license?

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

April 5, 2012

Yonkers is nearly broke, and "one-shot budget gimmicks" like Ridge Hill payment are part of the problem

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember the just-concluded Yonkers corruption trial, regarding, in part, ex-Council Member Sandy Annabi's 2006 vote in favor of Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill retail/residential project?

The ostensible justification for the vote, argued vigorously by Annabi's lawyer, was the developer's willingness to pay $10.8 million more. Prosecutors said the money was "peanuts," in the words of one pro-project Council Member, and that Annabi flipped because of her relationship and reliance on funds from her political mentor, Zehy Jereis. Both were convicted.

Though Annabi's attorney argued that that was the best deal available, it had already been on the table.

Now, offering more backing for the prosecution's theory, a new report notes that the Ridge Hill payment was just one of several unwise "one-shot budget gimmicks" used by the city.

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Posted by eric at 8:51 PM

If Downtown Brooklyn office space has a "staggering 26.8% availability" (as per The Real Deal), what does that say about the projected Atlantic Yards office space?

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how the four Atlantic Yards office towers were a slam dunk, according to Forest City Ratner's paid consultant, sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, because office space as of 2004 was supposed to be doing fine?

Well, The Real Deal reports on Brooklyn’s Class A woes: Borough’s Downtown market sees highest availability in office space in more than a decade. The article does leave out some important context:

  • that the demand for office space drove the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, which instead enabled residential towers and hotels
  • that the promised Atlantic Yards office space was crucial to the count of permanent jobs and the total tax revenue

The number of planned office towers at the AY site was cut from four to one, but that one building hasn't been developed, without an anchor tenant.

So, the article suggests that Bruce Ratner's snappy comment to Crain's New York Business in November 2009--"Can you tell me when we are going to need a new office tower?"--remains very much valid.

Perhaps the only true words Bruce has ever uttered.

As I wrote in March 2006, Zimbalist, while predicting Atlantic Yards would eventually create 1.9 million square feet of first-class office space, made no mention of a study of Downtown Brooklyn redevelopment issued a month earlier, which estimated a glut of office space.

In their June 2004 critique, Gustav Peebles and Jung Kim pointed out that Zimbalist didn't point out how so much of the then-well-occupied Class A office space in Brooklyn is at Forest City Ratner's MetroTech development, which has relied heavily on subsidies and government tenants to fill the space.

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Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Brooklyn’s Class A woes

Borough’s Downtown market sees highest availability in office space in more than a decade

The Real Deal
by Adam Pincus

The Atlantic Yards office tower(s), and its bogus 10,000 permanent jobs, coming never.

The office market in Downtown Brooklyn was once going strong with a full slate of long-term leases, and a roster of financial firms like Bear Stearns & Company, which were locating back offices there to flee expensive Manhattan rents.

But today its high 90 percent occupancy rate masks a staggering 26.8 percent availability rate — from downsizing tenants and expiring leases in its 8 million square feet of modern, Class A office buildings. That’s according to fourth-quarter 2011 figures, the most recent available from commercial firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The growth of vacant and available space has been a long time in the making, as financial firms reduced head counts, moved staff overseas, or decamped to New Jersey.
...

The availability rate — measuring space vacant now or available over the next 12 months — in Downtown Brooklyn’s modern office space is among the highest in the nation.

Developer and landlord Forest City Ratner controls most of the market, with about 5.2 million square feet in six buildings. Most of those buildings are in the Metro Tech Center complex, as well as three additional buildings, including 1 Pierrepont Plaza.

Forest City has just 3 percent vacancy in its portfolio, data from CoStar Group shows. But it acknowledged that about 18 percent of the portfolio is available, either directly through Forest City or indirectly through existing companies in the form of a sublease.

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NoLandGrab: There's a shocker — Forest City Ratner officially claiming a low vacancy rate, while reality begs to differ.

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Vermont newspaper takes close look at EB-5 program, finds some reason for concern

Atlantic Yards Report

A long and interesting article from Seven Days Vermont about EB-5 investment, headlined Seeing Green: Vermont's EB-5 program trades cash for visas — fair deal or shady business?, analyzes the program in the state where it probably has the largest impact.

While the article probably leaves an overall positive impression of the program, it breaks some news, describing one apparent scam and explaining how those benefiting from EB-5 reward those who support it.

And it doesn't quite grapple with the question of opportunity cost: if we are going to "sell" visas, are we really getting our money's worth?

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Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

With Golden Gloves at Barclays, Is the Arena Beginning to Overtake MSG? [POLL]

A number of prestigious sports events and concerts are choosing the Barclays Center over Madison Square Garden – will it last?

Prospect Heights Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Oh, please. One is the World's Most Famous Arena, the other is the World's Most Rusty Arena™.

The Brooklyn Paper questioned Monday whether the brand-new Barclays will begin to draw more big events away from Madison Square Garden. There is, after all, the Coaches vs. Cancer basketball tournament that is also being pulled away from MSG when the Brooklyn arena opens, as well as The New York Masters horse-jumping competition. And Manhattan's arena may host Rangers hockey games, but the Islanders will take on the Devils for a one-off game in October.
...

Could the Barclays Center overtake Madison Square Garden as New York City’s most prestigious venue? Vote in our poll below, or let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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NoLandGrab: In order to "draw more big events away from Madison Square Garden," the Barclays Center will first need to draw a big event away from MSG. Things like the Golden Gloves and Coaches vs. Cancer are peanuts. The Knicks and Rangers sell out 100% of their games, while the Nets and Islanders (who aren't ever moving to the Barclays Center, anyway), rank last and next-to-last in league attendance, respectively. Do we really think Jay-Z isn't going to play the Garden anymore? He's a business, man.

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

Vacant Lot and Warehouse Snatched Up for Millions in Prospect Heights

Could developers be moving to turn a Prospect Place warehouse and an Atlantic Yards-area vacant lot into new residential buildings?

Prospect Heights Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Vulnerable Prospect Heights residents who weren't removed by Bruce Ratner's bulldozers will likely be finished off by the Atlantic Yards gentrification wave.

Prospect Heights recently saw two big real estate transactions, though with uncertain plans, it’s difficult to tell whether or not the neighborhood will see new residential units, or possibly a large commercial space.

A warehouse at 363-371 Prospect Place, between Underhill and Washington avenues, sold to a Manhattan-based developer for $4.2 million, says Brownstoner. The building is 30,000 square feet, with frontage on both Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue, says the blog. Last December, the Department of Buildings shut down plans for a residential conversion and two-story addition (for 44 proposed units), but since the building has been under contract since June 2011, “those plans may still be in the cards,” says Brownstoner.

Borough Builders, Inc. bought the vacant residential land just a block from Atlantic Yards at 650-654 Bergen Street (between Vanderbilt and Underhill Avenues) for $2.7 million in an all-cash transaction, a record for 22,270 square feet of buildable area, says CoStar Group. The post says that there were no approved plans, no foundation in place and no tax abatement on the parcel.

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Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

Yonkers mayor orders background checks for appointees

Politics on the Hudson
by Colin Gustafson

Calling for greater government transparency, the mayor on Tuesday called for mandatory background checks for potential appointees to city boards and commissions.

Candidates for these bodies, Mayor Mike Spano said, should be subject to the same “rigorous checks and balances” as city employees. The city personnel department will conduct the investigations.
...

His announcement follows the dramatic conclusion of the corruption trial of former Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and former GOP boss Zehy Jereis, who were found guilty Thursday of federal conspiracy, bribery and extortion charges.

In the wake of the trial, the mayor — whose brother, former state Sen. Nicholas Spano, pleaded guilty in February to federal tax-evasion charges — has also noted his efforts to beef up the city’s ethics code. Those include appointing three new ethics board members and requiring all city department employees to take annual ethics training.

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NoLandGrab: Never mind that — how about background checks for real estate developers?

Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

April 4, 2012

Rumur Inc: Neighborhood Beat Prospect Heights

Brooklyn Independent Television

BRIC Community Media talks with Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley about their oeuvre.

Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley are documentary filmmakers, husband and wife, and are the co-directors of Battle For Brooklyn, a film 8 years in the making , that chronicles the struggle of a man and a community fighting to save their homes in the wake of the construction of The Barclays Center Arena. We recently visited them and discussed their intriguing projects; past, present and future.

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Posted by eric at 10:51 PM

Down to the wire: Carlton Avenue Bridge could reopen "before asphalt paved"; state official contradicts consultant's report that bridge is behind schedule

Atlantic Yards Report

I have an article in Streetsblog today, Barclays Center Mysteries: Three Big Unknowns About Arena Transportation, about the delays and uncertainty plaguing three aspects of Barclays Center plans: the Transportation Demand Management plan, the surface parking lot, and the reopening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

While careful readers of this blog know a good deal of the story, what's new is further evidence of delays--and evasion--regarding the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

There's huge pressure to get the bridge reopened before the first event at the Barclays Center arena, the September 28 Jay-Z concert. So developer Forest City Ratner is considering cutting corners: opening the bridge before the asphalt is paved.

On schedule--really?

Moreover, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing the project, has continued to obfuscate on whether the bridge is delayed.

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Related content...

Brownstoner, Big Questions About Transportation Near Barclays Center

Posted by eric at 1:40 PM

Barclays Center Mysteries: Three Big Unknowns About Arena Transportation

Streetsblog
by Norman Oder

In less than six months, toward the end of September, the Barclays Center will open and throngs of visitors will descend on the streets of Prospect Heights and nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods. While numerous concerts and sports events have already been booked, the transportation picture remains fuzzy even this close to opening day. Three big unknowns:

  • The plan to encourage arenagoers to use transit, originally due last December, is now expected in May.
  • Developer Forest City Ratner hasn’t revealed the size of the surface parking lot next to the arena, even though construction begins next month.
  • The long-closed Carlton Avenue Bridge (below), a key conduit between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene and a critical link in the Brooklyn bike network, is now due to reopen just before the arena debuts, and state officials don’t acknowledge that the bridge is behind schedule.

The arena location — next to Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub, with nine subways and the Brooklyn terminus of Long Island Rail Road — means, as Streetsblog suggested last June, that “the fundamentals for a smart solution are there.” Indeed, the arena website proclaims, “Public transit is the fastest, most convenient way to travel here.” A new subway entrance, leading to the plaza outside the arena, is under construction.

It’s not clear, however, how persuasive the inducements to ride transit will be. The promised Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan for the arena — which would define transit incentives, catalog nearby parking facilities accessible via shuttle buses, and present a cross-marketing program with local businesses — is behind schedule. At first, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, “anticipated” that the plan would be available by December 2011. That goal was nudged back to February 2012, and then to May – limiting the opportunity for public input promised by ESD.

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Posted by eric at 12:46 PM

Thieves loot Hanson Place apartment

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

Somebody call a security guard! Oh, wait...

Phone home

Three thugs robbed a security guard on Flatbush Avenue on March 31.

The 23-year-old victim told cops he was in the Atlantic Terminal Mall at 2:45 pm, confronting three men who were bothering a woman. That’s when the jerks grabbed him, took his $500 Motorola radio, and fled.

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NoLandGrab: When the security staff is victimized, who are they supposed to call for backup, anyway?

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Nets owner to meet with commissioner in New York

NY Post
by Tim Bontemps

They must be all in a tizzy over at NetsDaily. Sad that the most excitement your team generates is a visit from the owner.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been missing in action, but that will change next week.

That’s when Prokhorov will meet with NBA commissioner David Stern, and Prokhorov may attend the league’s Board of Governors meetings next Thursday and Friday, Stern said at an event in Manhattan Tuesday to kick off NBA Green Week presented by Sprint.

At those meetings, the Board of Governors officially will vote to approve the Nets’ impending move to Brooklyn, along with the team’s name change from the New Jersey Nets to the Brooklyn Nets.
...

Stern also spoke glowingly of the ongoing construction of the team’s new home in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center, which is set to open this fall.

“It’s going to be on time, [and] it’s going to be a spectacular addition to the New York entertainment scene,” Stern said.

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NoLandGrab: Uh, David, we like to say a spectacular addition to "New York's civic life" — it's a "civic project," remember?

Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

Downtown Brooklyn Marriott named official hotel of Barclays Center

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

What?! How about the Best Western Arena Hotel?

The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge has been named the Barclays Center's official hotel -- and officials say the designation means the hotel will be a top choice of visiting basketball teams, performers and others attending future arena events.

Officials for the under-construction, 18,000-seat Prospect Heights arena and Muss Development, which oversees the nearby 667-room hotel in the borough's Downtown, announced the partnership yesterday. It includes a number of cross-promotional activities, including two branded guest service centers at the NBA's Nets new arena, which opens Sept. 28.

The Atlantic 10 conference is among the first to take advantage of the partnership. The league will be using the Brooklyn Marriott on Adams Street as its hotel headquarters for the A-10 Men's Basketball Championships next season, which will be held at Barclays Center.

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Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

Barclays should court these MSG events

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The Barclays Center has already stolen major gigs away from Madison Square Garden, but the Manhattan venue still boasts a number of offerings — from sports to rodeos — that could be ripe for the taking:

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Dog-loving Brownstone Brooklyn could be a great home for the 136-year-old poochfest, especially considering that the Brooklyn Mutt Show is already a big hit.

The Professional Bull Riders Invitational

A bull-riding contest might seem out of place in Brooklyn, but with all its ups and downs it could be a perfect fit for an arena that’s a part of the controversial $5-billion Atlantic Yards project.

The Public School Athletic League basketball championships

Brooklyn-born greats like former Lincoln High School star Stephon Marbury would have home field advantage if city school finals moved to the borough.

American Cup

The world’s best gymnastics tournament doesn’t necessarily need to be held in the world’s most famous arena — and who says Madison Square Garden will keep that title for long, anyway?

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NoLandGrab: From the World's Most Famous Arena to the World's Most Subsidized Arena™!

Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

Golden Gloves coming to Barclays instead of Madison Square Garden

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The soon-to-open Barclays Center snagged the Golden Gloves amateur boxing finals from Madison Square Garden, dealing its world-famous rival in Manhattan a big blow in the budding rivalry between the two high-profile arenas.

The nation’s best young boxers will slug it out at the $1-billion arena on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues next year instead of at the aging but recently-rehabbed Manhattan venue — marking the first time in the contest’s 86-year history that fighters won’t take their corners in the squared circle at Madison Square Garden, officials at Barclays announced on Tuesday.

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Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

NY tax agency takes Brooklyn

NY Post
by Steve Cuozzo

The taxpayers are again lining Bruce Ratner's pockets, as another New York State entity takes space at MetroSubsidyTech.

The state Dept. of Taxation and Finance is saving taxpayer dough by moving across the East River.

In one of the year’s largest relocations, the agency is leaving behind its 1740 Broadway offices for Brooklyn’s much cheaper 15 Metrotech Center, The Post has learned.

The agency is taking 133,000 square feet at Bruce Ratner’s complex via a sublease from health insurer Wellfleet. The move will reduce the state unit’s lease cost per square foot from $64 at Vornado’s 1740 Broadway to just $19.50 — resulting in $3.3 million in savings the first year, according to a department spokesperson.

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NoLandGrab: Yes, it's all about saving the taxpayers money.

Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

Let’s Make a Deal! How Mike’s Mild-Mannered Closer Seth Pinsky Got the City Building Again

Dan Doctoroff's protégée picks up the mantle for PlaNYC.

The New York Observer
by Nitasha Tiku

If picking up the mantle for PlaNYC means building lots of parking lots, then Seth Pinsky is right on track.

“There are no permanent obstacles with Seth,” said Mr. Doctoroff. Mr. Lieber put it more bluntly: “He wears the other guy out.”

Some blame that stance for the chaotic denouement of the tech campus competition. “There’s a line that Stanford left because Seth was too difficult to deal with,” the source said. Those privy to negotiations say Stanford was taken aback by the binding legal penalties involving factors outside of their control.

“I’m not sure anyone really knows what happened there,” Mr. Pinsky said. “I think developers are used to dealing with cities that just write a check and say, ‘Will you just swear on a Bible that you’ll do this?’”

Bruce Ratner is used to dealing that way, anyway.

Meanwhile, community advocates and urban planners decry the EDC’s corporate structure and lack of transparency. “They pass for being a government agency, and in fact they have more power than many of the line agencies under the mayor,” said Tom Angotti, director of the Center for Community Planning and Development at Hunter College and the author of New York for Sale, who noted that by the time neighborhoods are consulted, the EDC has typically already made up its mind.

“If [closing deals] is the only criterion, he’s been a success. But for me that’s not the only criteria, nor should it be for the public. The question is what’s the quality of the deals,” added Mr. Angotti, a technical advisor to the alternative plans for the arena at Atlantic Yards. He cited the Brooklyn stadium as an example of selecting a more suburbanized approach over a plan that would benefit locals. “It divides three neighborhoods instead of uniting them and it just creates another giant super block in the middle of Brooklyn.”

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Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

Will Nets Fans Need Drinks? Community Board Meeting on Ratner Liquor License Application

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Should Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov's Barclays Center Mall Restaurant Bar Arena be granted a liquor license? With the product they're putting on the court they and their customers are gonna need a few drinks something awful.

Anyway, if you're interested in why they think 18,000 (minus everyone under the age of 21 without fake IDs) should be able to belly up to the bar at once and chug down some of the best swill around and how they'll handle it, AND ask questions....you're in luck.

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Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

St. Louis Humanities Festival April 13 and 14

Local institutions partner to launch first annual event

Washington University in St. Louis
by Liam Otten

A heads-up to all our loyal readers in St. Louie...

Later this month, the Center for the Humanities at Washington University — in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council, Webster University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis’s Center for the Humanities — will present the first annual St. Louis Humanities Festival.

The two-day event, which takes place Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, will feature talks by Shelton Johnson, a novelist and Yosemite park ranger, who is featured in Ken Burns’s film series The National Parks; and Brian Turner, an Iraq War veteran-turned-poet.

Rounding out the schedule will be a screening of the controversial documentary Battle for Brooklyn, followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Michael Galinsky.

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Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Forest City Ratner seeks MWBE contractors for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner seeks MWBE contractors for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning (as announced via the Fort Greene Association):

Dear Neighbors,

I am writing to share with you more opportunities associated with the opening of the Barclays Center this September. We are committed to contracting with women and minority owned firms for services in the building and will share a number of Request for Proposals with you over the next few months.

MWBEs are required to be certified on a state, federal or city level. All firms interested in responding to RFPs must register with our management company AEG. Please encourage any companies you know to fill out the AEG materials.

Today we are sharing an opportunity for housekeeping, uniforms and dry cleaning. Please see all the details including directions on how to apply attached here. This information will also be posted at barclayscenter.com and atlanticyards.com.

With less than six months to go until opening we look forward to continuing to share good news about our efforts. As always don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions.

Ashley C. Cotton
Vice President
External Affairs
Forest City Ratner
718-923-8690

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Posted by steve at 9:58 AM

With no Building 2, arena boiler stack has to move 200 feet lower than announced; ESD says "there are no air quality issues"

Atlantic Yards

The delay in the first Atlantic Yards tower, Building 2, once expected to be constructed along with the Barclays Center arena, has some real-world consequences, notably the temporary relocation of a planned exhaust system for the arena boiler.

When the arena opens, the exhaust system will not be some 322 feet in the air, on the roof of B2, but instead 200 feet lower.

Empire State Development (ESD), the agency in charge of the Atlantic Yards project, says it's not a problem.

Plans in the Tech Memo

The ESD's June 2009 Technical Memorandum, produced to accompany the re-approval of the revised project, anticipated no delay in the construction of Building 2. It states on p. 5:

Heating systems for the arena block would be decentralized, with the arena and each of the surrounding buildings on the arena block having individual HVAC and microturbine/distributed power systems. The arena boiler exhaust would be vented through a single stack located on the roof of Building 2.

There was no further discussion of an alternative location if Building 2 does not open in time.

Nor was there mention of the issue in the December 2010 Technical Analysis, produced in response to a judge's order regarding the impact of delays on the second phase of the project, not the arena block.

ESD response

So I queried ESD about the location of the vent stack. The agency responded:

In the interim condition (before Building 2 is completed) the arena boiler stack is located in the southeast quadrant of the arena building (near Dean and Pacific). [Consultant] HDR has confirmed that the arena’s natural gas boiler meets the low NOx [nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide] requirement of 20ppm (MEC [Memorandum of Environmental Commitments] requirement). HDR has further determined that there are no air quality issues associated with this interim condition based on the low Nox natural gas and the height of the stack (122’ from ground level to top of stack). The stack will be relocated to Building 2 once it is constructed.

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Posted by steve at 8:05 AM

April 3, 2012

New Macombs Dam Park ballfields in Bronx on site of former Yankee Stadium open for first baseball game

All Hallows plays Cardinal Hayes on lush new ballfields

NY Daily News
by Daniel Beekman

Right on time? Not even close.

The grass was green, the sky was blue and the players were in heaven Monday as the new Macombs Dam Park ballfields hosted their first baseball game.

Built on the former site of the House That Ruth Built to replace parkland bulldozed to make way for the new Yankee Stadium, the fields boast lush Kentucky bluegrass, sturdy bleachers and plaques to honor baseball history.

Frieze panels from the old stadium overlook the three fields and a blue outline marks the historic Bronx Bombers diamond.

"It feels great to play here," said Lance Montano, 17, an All Hallows High School senior who plays first base. "The park is brand new and the grass is perfect."

But neighbors and players who still feel "shortchanged" by the project described the opening day matchup between All Hallows and Cardinal Hayes High School as bittersweet. The new stadium opened on schedule in 2009 but work on the new Macombs Dam fields only began in 2010.

Local ballplayers went nearly six years without a regulation baseball diamond in their nabe. Pickup play halted and the All Hallows Gaels bused to home games on Staten Island.

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Posted by eric at 9:31 PM

Coming April 10: Presentation on liquor license application for the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

Community Board 6 announces a joint meeting with Community Boards 2 & 6 at 6:30 pm on April 10:

Public Safety/Environmental Protection/Permits/Licenses
Presentation and review of an on-premises liquor license application submitted to the State Liquor Authority on behalf of Levy Premium Foodservice, LP and Brooklyn Events Center, LLC at the Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue (between Flatbush/5th Avenues).

78th Police Precinct
65 6th Avenue, Courtroom
(between Bergen/Dean Streets)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman notes that the joint review session is being held because the arena and site spans multiple Community Districts. Community Boards don't see the liquor license applications, but get a standardized form that provides a 30-day notice of an applicant's intent to file an application, which is what triggers the review process.

CB 6 asks applicants to complete a liquor license questionnaire, which includes the names of officers/managers/owners, the previous premises they've operated, and details about the operation, including cuisine, target age of customer base, music/entertainment plans, hours/days of operation, and square footage/seating capacity/floor plan.

Community Boards cannot veto or approve a license application, but have an advisory--and sometimes mediating--role. CB 2 stated in a notice:

Representatives of the applicant, the arena operator and the New York Police Department will be present at the meeting. Although not a public hearing, the public will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment.

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Posted by eric at 9:21 PM

Channel 13, New York’s Premier Public Television Station, Provides Promotion For The Ratner/Prokhorov Barclays Basketball Arena: What To Do About It?

Noticing New York

All right, I have to admit it. This article is structured as crescendo of rage. So the further you read the more you will find that is absolutely appalling. I am writing about Channel Thirteen's promotional endorsement of the Bruce Ratner/Mikhail Prokhorov basketball arena being built where the brownstone neighborhoods of Park Slope, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, and Prospect Heights converge.
...

The very beginning of February (February 3rd) I was watching evening TV when an intrusion presented itself on Channel 13, the city’s premier public television station, a station I gratefully thank for presenting programs such as the probing and analytical issue-oriented “Frontline,” “Nova” which frequently covers environmental important subjects as global warming, “The American Experience, which provides overviews of the American past and many more public affairs oriented programs including such things as local coverage of State of the State and City and budget addresses by the governor and mayor. What intruded into my theoretically `commercial free’ public television evening was a promotion for the new publicly-harmful “Barclays” basketball arena being developed by Bruce Ratner and Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Follow the link for much more.

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Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

Barclays Center promotional round-up: Daily News, NY1, Channel 13

Atlantic Yards Report

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Oops, having a hard time staying awake, what with all the Netsanity.

The New York Daily News, home to the most embarrassing editorial backing Atlantic Yards, and the most embarrassing "news" coverage (via their "real estate correspondent), now has another reason to offer editorial support of the Barclays Center arena: the Daily News Golden Gloves, the newspaper-sponsored boxing tournament, is moving its two-day finals to the Brooklyn venue:

“The Daily News is excited to announce that the iconic Golden Gloves finals will take place at the new Barclays Center in 2013, beginning an exciting new chapter in the rich history of the tournament,” Daily News CEO Bill Holiber said Monday. “The Barclays Center will bring a new excitement to the sport of boxing and as a true partner of the Golden Gloves, will help the Daily News continue our strong tradition of supporting amateur boxing in New York.”

NY1 promotion

Meanwhile, NY1 published a segment, headlined Nets Develop Business Deals In Their Future Borough, that provided a tour of the new Nets offices in Brooklyn, led by relentless promoter Brett Yormark (Nets/Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment CEO), keyed to the big news that the Brooklyn Marriott is now the arena's official hotel:

Planting roots in the borough includes partnering with Long Island University and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which will hold events in the arena. Point guard Deron Williams reached out to the community last month when he held a meet-and-greet event at the Fulton Mall.

"Our goal is to come out strong, very aggressively, and let them know we're here," said Yormark.

(Emphasis added)

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Related content...

NY Daily News, The Daily News Golden Gloves boxing tournament moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for next year's title matches

“I’m a fan of boxing in general,” Yormark said. “I think the Golden Gloves defines New York in so many different ways. It truly has a diverse makeup of competitors and it’s made of people who aspire to be champions in that field. If we can help them in any way, shape or form, like offering the Barclays Center as a platform, that’s a great thing for us. My personal goal is to reinvent the Golden Gloves and to give it the biggest platform it’s ever enjoyed.”

NY1, Nets Develop Business Deals In Their Future Borough

"Now that we're here in Brooklyn, we're taking people on site tours of the Barclays Center so we can play show and tell for the first time in a very authentic way," said Nets and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark.

NoLandGrab: That's a step up from their usual game — bait and switch.

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

Jay-Z's new commercial: from Marcy to Barclays (sort of); "Empire" tops Time Out New York's Best NYC songs (but what about C.R.E.A.M.?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on the latest Jay-Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... oh, what's that? Sorry, nodded off there for a moment. The latest Jay-Z "news."

From Rap-Up, JAY-Z GOES FROM ‘MARCY TO BARCLAYS’ IN ROCAWEAR COMMERCIAL:

Jay-Z reflects on his inspiring journey to the top in the first-ever Rocawear commercial, directed by Anthony Mandler. Mr. Carter describes himself as a kid growing up in the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn to eventually becoming an executive of many brands including his clothing line Rocawear.

“My goal was to have one gold album and that was it,” says the Roc Nation mogul. “And then it became, I want to show that an artist can ascend to the executive ranks.”

No, despite what Rap-Up says, Jay-Z's not scheduled to play eight concerts starting in September; no number has been released. And Barclays isn't so much in the video as in a billboard in the video; for the record, that billboard looks like it's even farther from Marcy, in Manhattan's Times Square. Apparently it was broadcast last night during the NCAA finals.

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Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

April 2, 2012

Charlie Rose Does Infomercial For Forest City Ratner

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White returns from an Atlantic Yards hiatus with a takedown of the Channel 13 interview he very aptly terms an "infomercial."

On March 10, 2012 Charlie Rose broadcast what was in effect a half hour, high production value infomercial for Bruce Ratner, his arena and his proposed Atlantic Yards.
...

Rose's interview of Ratner was so much like a late night infomercial that you can read Rose’s questions to, and other exchanges with, Ratner without reading Ratner's responses to know approximately what Ratner came prepared to say and ultimately did say during the interview. I am providing them further below in this article so you can put this assertion to the test. Rose's exchanges are like cue cards to keep Mr. Ratner on track with a predetermined message. Rose's side of the conversation consisted of three categories of things: 1.) friendly and leading questions, 2.) helpful restatements of what he suspected Ratner hadn't said well enough, 3.) oddly enthusiastic exclamations of praise. The eager breathlessness with which Ratner tumbled out his responses added to the feel of this being an infomercial.

Read on for more, including the fascinating one-sided transcript (Charlie could really have handled the infomercial solo), and White's exposure of bad-poker-player Bruce's "tell."

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Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Another planned bar/lounge on Flatbush Avenue, Kemistry, provokes concern over exit on residential street, "nightclub" plans

Atlantic Yards Report

We'd missed this story last week, and planned to post it today, but Norman Oder beat us to the punch — as per usual.

Not surprisingly, there's another controversy over a lounge/nightclub planned near the Barclays Center arena at a location that fronts on busy Flatbush Avenue but had a rear exist on a residential street.

In this case, as described by Park Slope Patch and Brownstoner last week, it's The Kemistry Lounge International, which has a placeholder website, but a Facebook page, now offline (but cached), alarmed some neighbors.

(The name, as pointed out by a Brownstoner commenter, is apparently a nod to Kem Owens. The location is 260 Flatbush Avenue, noted on the map.)

The concerns

The main concerns seem to be:

  • whether there will be an exit onto Prospect Place
  • whether the 245-person capacity space will be a nightclub with rowdy people out late

The first issue seems relatively straightforward: bar owners told Brownstoner that the back exit would be used only as an emergency exit. Surely that can be negotiated.

The second issue may be tougher to pin down. If the lounge will have dancing only for private events, as Patch reported, how often would they be? If, in the words of co-owner James Brown, "It won't be a nightclub," what does that mean?

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Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Nabes Don’t Want Upscale Lounge on Flatbush Ave.

Prospect Place is a quaint and quiet residential block—and most of the neighborhood wants to keep it that way.

Last night, at the Community Board 6's permits and licenses committee, twenty or so residents of the tree-lined street voiced serious concerns about the proposed 245-person capacity restaurant and bar/lounge called Kemistry Lounge, which is on Flatbush between Sixth Avenue and Prospect Place.
...

Joe Marvel, who has been living on Prospect Place since 1975 and lives right next to the new development’s plate glass exit on Prospect Place, is worried about his quality of life.

“The whole neighborhood will be affected by this place’s throbbing music at all hours of the night and there will be an uptick of loitering and urinating,” Marvel said. “In no way are we opposed to business, but we are opposed to clubs.”
...

After the meeting, Kemistry's James Brown said he wasn’t discouraged, but rather that a negative reaction was “par for the course.”

“I think it is good and the community’s concerns are legitimate,” Brown said. “We want to make changes and adapt our environment to their concerns so we can work and live together.”

Brownstoner, Slope Residents Worry About Another Arena-Area Club

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Big baby Dwight Howard leaves the Nets in the lurch

Amsterdam News
by Richard G. Carter

The Amsterdam News hilariously blames all the Nets problems on one NBA star who decided playing for the inept franchise might not be such a good idea after all.

Displaying the immaturity of a teenager and backbone of a jellyfish, the muscular 6-foot-11 Howard flip-flopped more than Mitt Romney. After asking the Magic to trade him to the Nets prior to the season, he waffled big-time before changing his mind and citing “loyalty” to Orlando in a bizarre “don’t blame me,” nationally televised news conference on March 15—three hours prior to the trade deadline.
...

The Nets had eagerly awaited the big center’s arrival, and their management felt it was a lock the night before Howard publicly punked out. In effect, Howard held the Nets and their fans hostage for months. During that time, the team signed players to one-year contracts, passed on solid free agents and didn’t renew center Brook Lopez’s contract.

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NoLandGrab: What, no Plan B? Bruce Ratner has been holding Brooklynites hostage for eight years, but we don't remember the author ever complaining about that.

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

April 1, 2012

Forest City Ratner: good corporate citizen or relentless seeker of advantage? (100% non-invented quotes)

Atlantic Yards Report

“I think all of this stems from [Bruce Ratner's] sense of what it means to be a good corporate citizen..." -- Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in the Forward, May 2011

"ESDC is fully aware of the Ridge Hill investigation; we have discussed the same directly with Forest City and we have reached out to official authorities. We remain confident in Forest City as a developer and as a good corporate citizen and we are moving forward with the Project." -- Empire State Development Corporation spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell, March, 2010

"“Just left emergency rm my wife needs surgery tomorrow no fucking around get sandy on bd tell your brother we need help now I have to close this and take care of my family.” -- Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender, September 2005, revealed in Ridge Hill corruption trial, February 2012

"My dilemma is as you know, I don't mind fucking the bridge, I can't fuck it right now, I've got to leverage that bridge, what's my value?" -- Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender, December 2010, revealed in Carl Kruger investigation, March 2011

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Posted by steve at 11:30 PM

More on Yonkers trial: Senator Libous denies allegations; an observer of the U.S. Attorney calls office "quite selective"

Atlantic Yards Report

During the recent corruption trial involving former Yonkers Council Member Sandy Annabi and her political mentor, Zehy Jereis, key prosecution witness Anthony Mangone, originally charged in the case but testifying in the hope of a reduced sentence, pointed the finger at powerful state Senator Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican who was close to then-Senator Nick Spano, a Yonkers powerbroker who once employed Mangone and Jereis.

Mangone testified that, at Libous's request, his former law firm had hired Libous’s son Matthew at an inflated salary, and were directed to bill a questionable consulting company to help pay him. No clarifying details emerged, and Senator Libous initially wouldn’t comment, citing the ongoing trial.

That sounded a bit odd, given that the allegations were merely mentioned in the trial, not the subject of it. Yesterday, however, Libous firmly denied the account and any wrongdoing, according to Gannett’s Press & Sun-Bulletin. “I made no promises and nothing transpired between me or my office and the firm,” he said, pointing to Mangone's record as an admitted liar.

Bharara's record, and a question of selective prosecution

Meanwhile, the Journal News, in Annabi verdict is latest win for U.S. attorney, toted up U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's record in pursuing public corruption:

  • Spano pleaded guilty on tax charges, albeit lesser charges than it was believed prosecutors once pursued
  • Vincent Leibell, Putnam County Republican state senator, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and tax-evasion charges
  • Brooklyn state Sen. Carl Kruger, a Democrat, and lobbyist Richard Lipsky pleaded guilty to a bribery and money-laundering scheme
  • Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland, a Democrat, was acquitted of corruption, but since has been indicted on new bribery charges, this time based on wiretaps
  • angone pleaded guilty

The article states:

Veteran trial attorney Murray Richman, who represented Annabi after she was first indicted, also questioned whether federal prosecutors were sometimes drawn to cases for the splashy headlines rather than digging deeper into larger public corruption.
“They go for the hangers,” said Richman, referring to a term used in billiards whereby players target balls that are perched closest to the holes and thereby are the easiest to sink.
“There’s no question that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is quite selective in the cases they bring,” he said. “They follow the evidence as they perceive it, but they pick on a particular bone and they stay at the same bone and don’t put a wide enough net out there.”

If the office is "quite selective," does that mean certain developers have gotten a pass? (See NoLandGrab's April 1 post.)

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Posted by steve at 11:23 PM

On StubHub, some of the last Nets home games in New Jersey are on sale for less than $1

Atlantic Yards Report

Wanna see a Nets game during their last month in New Jersey? Well, if you want to see them play the Knicks, on StubHub, resale seats start at $57.75.

The Miami Heat are also a draw, with seats starting at $24.50. But if you don't mind the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Philadelphia 76ers, you can get a seat for less than a buck (plus fees).

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Posted by steve at 11:16 PM

Leading New York Developer Arrested in FBI Raid

The New York Times
by Avril Fous

Wow. Wow. Wow.

In a pre-dawn raid today, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation swept into the Upper East Side home of New York real estate developer Bruce C. Ratner, taking him into custody and seizing computers and documents in what Dia de los Inocentes, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District, called a major escalation in an on-going investigation into corruption in several real estate projects in the metropolitan area.

Ms. de los Inocentes, speaking shortly after the raid was executed, said that she expected to charge Mr. Ratner under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, or RICO, a prosecutorial tool more commonly used in pursuing organized-crime figures. In addition to Mr. Ratner, who is the Chief Executive Officer of leading New York real estate development firm Forest City Ratner (the development partner of The New York Times headquarters building on 8th Avenue — this newspaper is not a target of the investigation), FBI agents also arrested several other executives of Forest City in similarly executed raids.

"Following their convictions in Federal Court last week, [former Yonkers City Councilwoman] Sandy Annabi and [former Yonkers Republican Party head] Zehy Jereis suddenly became much more forthcoming with details about what really happened with the reversal of Ms. Annabi's vote," said Ms. de los Inocentes, referring to the Councilwoman's sudden about face in dropping her opposition to Mr. Ratner's Ridge Hill project in 2006. Ms. Annabi was convicted on several counts last week, including the acceptance of "corrupt payments" in return for switching her vote. "Someone was the ultimate beneficiary of that vote, obviously, and it was a much bigger fish than Mr. Jereis."

Click through for the rest of this stunning, must-read news.

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Photo: The New York Times

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM