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June 30, 2012

A timely t-shirt: the name Barclays, now attached to a subway hub (and the Brooklyn arena), comes with a $450 million taint

Atlantic Yards Report

Maybe Deborah Goldstein was onto something in resisting the renaming of Brooklyn's most diverse transit hub as Atlantic Av-Barclays Center.

When the t-shirt maker (aka Miss Wit) came up with "I'm still calling it Atlantic Av-Pacific St," she was merely spreading the message that "everyone is not okay with this, still,”

Now, of course, Barclays is a wee bit tainted. Wrote Michael D.D. White in his Noticing New York blog:

Think about the appropriateness of naming New York City subway stops “Barclays Center” (while receiving virtually nothing of value to do so). “Barclays,” nothing but a name being advertised, is simply one more name in a sea of distracting ads. The “Barclays” bank didn’t build the arena that advertises its name; it’s being built by Bruce Ratner with the financial assistance of a Russian oligarch, Mikhail Prokhorov. The bank contributed nothing to the city or the borough of Brooklyn in order to build it. It has nothing to do with the arena. “Barclays” is not the name of the name of the basketball team planning to play there. It is not even necessarily the name of an honorable bank. Just of now the bank has been fined £290m ($450m) for manipulating LIBOR rates to benefit its traders and cook its books. Chief executive Bob Diamond is under pressure from British politicians to quit over the rate rigging scandal.

To be clear, the Barclays payment of $10 million-plus a year for naming rights--the latter a gift to Forest City Ratner from New York State--will help pay off the tax-exempt bonds used to finance construction.


At the March 2010 arena groundbreaking, as I wrote, Diamond was relatively brief, leading off by thanking several people, "including my good friend Bruce."

"This is a landmark partnership in so many ways," he said. "It's about our commitment to the regeneration of Brooklyn in some small way. But it's also about facilitating absolutely top-flight professional sporting achievement."

Not only the Nets but "many great events" will be held at the arena. "All of them will emphasize commitment," he said. "All of them will emphasize dedication to excellence. And all of them will emphasize teamwork. And that fits very very strongly with the ethos and the values of Barclays."

"It's important that we give back," Diamond said.

"The governor talked about the incredible generation of jobs: thousands and thousands of jobs, during construction, but more importantly, permanent jobs for many, many years going forward," he said. "The Barclays Center will not only help secure those jobs, but it's also about affordable housing, about new schools, and so many opportunities for the youth in these communities."

The Barclays Center is not, of course, about many permanent jobs (though lots of part-time ones), nor is about schools or affordable housing.

Diamond cited a "20-year commitment to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Barclays Center." He might have better called it a 20-year advertising arrangement that will help pay for arena construction.


Posted by steve at 6:37 PM

Government Gets Branded

Noticing New York

Think about the appropriateness of naming New York City subway stops “Barclays Center” (while receiving virtually nothing of value to do so). “Barclays,” nothing but a name being advertised, is simply one more name in a sea of distracting ads. The “Barclays” bank didn’t build the arena that advertises its name; it’s being built by Bruce Ratner with the financial assistance of a Russian oligarch, Mikhail Prokhorov. The bank contributed nothing to the city or the borough of Brooklyn in order to build it. It has nothing to do with the arena. “Barclays” is not the name of the name of the basketball team planning to play there. It is not even necessarily the name of an honorable bank. Just of now the bank has been fined £290m ($450m) for manipulating LIBOR rates to benefit its traders and cook its books. Chief executive Bob Diamond is under pressure from British politicians to quit over the rate rigging scandal.

Perhaps the bank can certainly use the advertising at this time given its bad acts, but the public finds itself much in the same position as when, in the middle of the fiscal crisis, the new Mets “Shady Stadium” found itself opening with the name "Citifield," after an apparently failing bank. Barclays was also deeply involved in various scandals throughout the fiscal crisis. Citibank survived 2008 but was just downgraded by Moody’s. The message from the Moody’s downgrade of Citi and several other banks is that the banking system isn’t more sound than in 2008.

How long will any of these banks be around and by what names? Remember Chemical Bank? Manufacturers? One day it may cause substantial confusion when “Barclays” isn’t around either. Perhaps the most recent scandal will take its toll. Perhaps the Euro crisis will. Maybe, given the scandal, Barclays will have to rebrand with a new name or merge into a bank with another name. It may go bankrupt. The AOL Time Warner Center is no longer the AOL Time Warner Center, but for a building that is just a corporate headquarters, to endure a name change is of far less consequence than for the names of two subway stops to change in a subway system that is obscure and complicated enough to understand already.

When the Barclays name fades away there will be no residual sense of history associated with its passing because it was, after all, just an advertisement for something that had no association with its place or moment in time. There was no reason for government to confer upon it the very special honor of making it a place name in the city. It makes no more sense to name subway stations “Barclays” than to put KFC logos on Baltimore fire trucks.


Posted by steve at 6:28 PM

June 29, 2012

Dear Park Slope Neighbor...

Some registered voters in Brooklyn's 7th Congressional District received a "Dear Neighbor" letter from the "Concerned Residents of Park Slope" just prior to last Tuesday's primary election, touting the candidacy of Erik Martin Dilan, a City Council member and the hand-picked candidate of Brooklyn Democratic machine boss Vito Lopez. Dilan was running against popular 10-term Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who is most decidedly not under the sway of Lopez and his cronies.

Among the half-dozen signatories to the letter were Brigitte LaBonte, Assistant VP of External Affairs for Forest City Ratner, and Amy Bender, wife of former Forest City Executive VP Bruce Bender.

The letter praises Dilan, of course, while failing to mention that he was named "the worst of the worst" among City Council members by the Daily News just last year, and — no surprise here — was one of the first elected officials to support Atlantic Yards. No surprise either that Dilan is a veritable pork processing plant among Council members.

Lastly, we couldn't help but chuckle at a line in the letter praising the way Dilan "miraculously secured funding to vital community services." Amy Bender's husband knows a thing or two about miraculously securing funding, too, but his funding miracles, it should be noted, involved colorful conversations with jailed ex-State Senator Carl Kruger that were being surreptitiously recorded by the Feds.

The letter promoting Dilan came up a bit short of miraculous, by the way — he was trounced by Congresswoman Velazquez by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Posted by eric at 4:32 PM

Getting some answers from ESD on transportation plan: is cutting parking a disincentive? will parking change be studied? where will savings on "NetroCards" go?

Atlantic Yards Report

The draft Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan was presented to the local community and elected officials on 5/22/12 (my coverage), as noted by Empire State Development, and the public has until July 3, 2012 to submit comments and questions to AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov.

ESD has prepared a document (also below) that answers several of the questions already raised. I highlight a few.

Parking disincentive

The key question is below, though it could be formulated in multiple ways. How can the reduction by half in on-site parking is an effective disincentive, according to the question, when there's sufficient off-site parking elsewhere nearby?

The answer is that "[p]roviding fewer parking spaces in an area with robust transit service is clearly a disincentive to driving." But the presence of free, on-street parking will be an incentive to driving, at least for some (and initially).


Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

From the Arena Operations presentation: views of the Haier Store, loading dock, and parking lot

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development has posted the Barclays Center Arena Operations presentation unveiled at the June 26 public meeting concern security, sanitation, and parking, and the full document is also posted below.

Below, I highlight several issues, including the Haier Store, the loading dock, and the parking configuration.


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

Are there 1,079 (FT?) workers at the Atlantic Yards site? If so, that's a huge jump (and sign of crunch time?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Patch reported yesterday, "Right now on the Atlantic Yards construction site, according to FCRC, they have 1,079 union employees in total...."

We don't know what that means in terms of FTE jobs. Generally, the number has been overstated by about 25%.

Still, it's a significant increase in workers, given that, in January 2012, Forest City construction chief Bob Sanna said about 666 workers was near peak. "I think we are approaching the peak, between all three parts of the project," he said, noting that perhaps 25 more workers would be added.

Does the increase relate to the 24/7 work now going at the site? That seems likely, and an indication of crunch time to get the project finished. Still, arena neighbors tell me they haven't seen signs of a major influx of workers.


Posted by eric at 10:23 AM

BKN Nets ~ Billy King's Deals Left Brooklyn Quiet in the Night


The poor BrooklynTrolleyBlogger was so distraught with the Nets' draft that he missed their first two picks.

It doesn't really hit home, until it hits home. And I'm not talking about the Barclays Center either. Lack of a number one pick in Thursday's NBA Draft left a major void in the Brooklyn night. It's a predicament I wasn't at all pleased the team created for themselves upon consummating that foolish deal for Gerald Wallace which eventually came back to kick Billy King in the ass. I guess you can tell I'm no fan of that deal. Nor am I big fan of GM Billy King. I think I made that clear on day one. I rue the day Rod Thorne ceased being this organization's overseer.

It's Thorn, actually, with no "e," but why quibble. The man's clearly at wit's end.

The Nets didn't pick until the second round, and number fifty-seven overall, because Billy King traded away what would have been the sixth overall pick to Portland. Their number thirty-five overall pick was surrendered in 2010 to Golden State in the Troy Murphy deal. Don't even talk to me about picking at number forty one either, or whatever. And just for effect, don't forget the pick involved in the Derrick Favors deal. Finally, with Brooklyn's first ever NBA draft opportunity, at 11:48pm they selected a Turkish forward named Ilkan Karaman. There ya go. Pop open the champagne and insert cheers here.


NoLandGrab: BTB was so worked up that he missed the Nets first two picks — they paid cash for Portland's #41 pick and took a KU kid with an attitude problem, and then bought Philadelphia's #54 pick and took a guy from Georgia — the Republic, not the state. They must be looking to appeal to Brooklyn's large Georgian and Turkish communities.

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

As Hooters stalks Brownstone Brooklyn, 'breastaurants' spread across America

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Candice Cholap

If there's a spread between the sensibilities of Brownstone Brooklynites and the rest of America, it might be found in the "breastaurants."

While a growing number of Americans are chomping down at a new breed of restaurants that feature family-style food in addition to lust-provoking scantity-clad waitresses, alert neighbors of the new Barclays Center are determined to fight a bid by the original "breastuarant" — Hooters — to open an outlet in their midst.

“I don’t know whether it’s a cultural clash or a clash in values, but it’s not the kind of establishment people would expect to find in Brownstone Brooklyn,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which includes Park Slope, as quoted by the Daily News.


Related (un)coverage...

mcbrooklyn, No One Laughing At the Hooter Jokes in Brooklyn Anymore

One of the longest-running jokes on Brooklyn blogs is the old "a Hooters is opening in our neighborhood" gag. Everyone has a good laugh, wipes their eyes and moves on.

Now the Brooklyn Eagle and NY Daily News report that neighbors of the soon-to-open Barclays Center are trying to fend off an actual Hooters from opening in their neighborhood, but no one's laughing. (Not even at the category name "breastaurant.")

Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

June 28, 2012

Lots of people looking for part-time arena jobs, but they were never the justification for the subsidies and tax breaks

Atlantic Yards Report

There are 1901 projected-part time jobs at the Barclays Center, and "nearly 20,000" (according to NY 1) or 26,000 (as per New York Times) applicants, a sign, according to the Times, that Amid Gloom, Job Hopes Rest Heavily on New Arena.

Well, that's news, especially given the desperate economic times, with half of the city's black residents unemployed. In Residents Line Up For Chance At Barclays Center Jobs, NY 1 quoted a resident calling it "a good opportunity."

It's surely better than no job, or even certain low-wage jobs, given that it's expected to be unionized. And Forest City Ratner, as the Times pointed out, has fulfilled its pledge by recruiting in Brooklyn, at churches and housing projects.

But such part-time jobs were never the justification for Atlantic Yards, and the attendant subsidies and tax breaks. No wonder elected officials like Council Member Letitia James and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery scoffed at them, during a rally earlier this month. The jobs should be those "that sustain families, not sell hot dogs," said James.


Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

Amid Gloom, Job Hopes Rest Heavily on New Arena

The New York Times
by Joseph Berger

Atiya Cheatham woke up two hours earlier than usual, murmured her daily prayers, brushed and curled her long ebony hair and put on her best interview outfit, a cream-colored, three-quarter-sleeved blouse and khaki slacks.

Then she headed from her home in the Wyckoff Gardens housing project in Brooklyn to join some of the 26,000 young men and women hoping to land one of the 2,000 jobs as ushers, ticket sellers and food and drink vendors that will become available at the Barclays Center arena near Downtown Brooklyn that is to open in September. The arena job is one of 10 she has applied for since May.

“It is frustrating,” Ms. Cheatham, a 22-year-old graduate of a community college in upstate New York, said of her job search, as she waited inside a gymnasium at St. Francis College to find out whether she had survived the first round of prescreening. “They say you need a college degree, but now that I have a degree it’s still hard,” she said. “But I have faith something will come my way.”

Given the number of job seekers who will be streaming through over the next few weeks, the arena job fair was strikingly orderly and fast-paced, and the atmosphere was one of anxious but hopeful longing. Still, the sheer number seeking these generally part-time and low-paying (though union-scale) jobs was a powerful illustration of just how bleak the city’s job picture is, especially for black New Yorkers.


NoLandGrab: What about Bruce Ratner's promised 10,000 office jobs?

Related coverage...

NY1, Residents Line Up For Chance At Barclays Center Jobs

Most say they'll take any job. But working at the arena is what attracts them.

"I love basketball and I love my borough and I'm looking forward to work as a usher, ticket person," said East New York resident Donte Brown.

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

Is There Any Point to an Atlantic Yards SEIS? You Bet

Prospect Heights Patch
by Gib Veconi

Picture this: You draw up plans for a new house. You find a well-known contractor who says he’ll need twelve months to build them. A few weeks before the project is supposed to start, you’re still finalizing an agreement with the contractor. One day, he calls up and says he’s got resource problems. Instead of twelve months, now he’s going to need two and a half years. Which would you do?

A. Agree to let the contractor have his way, and get somewhere else to live for the extra year and a half.

B. Find another contractor who can get the job done sooner.

Most of us would choose option B. Not the State of New York. In the summer of 2009, Forest City Ratner made just such an offer to the Empire State Development Corporation when it asked to extend the construction schedule of the Atlantic Yards project from ten to twenty-five years. Not only did ESDC agree to the extra fifteen years, it pretended that the schedule hadn’t even changed so it wouldn’t have to answer to the public or its own board.

Instead, for a change of such magnitude, ESDC was required to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS). Although it primarily focuses on environmental impacts, under State and City environmental guidelines, an SEIS also must consider alternatives to the proposed plan. In 2009, those alternatives surely would have included reducing schedule risk by bringing in additional development teams.


Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Workers' Lawsuit Against Forest City Ratner Moves Forward

Developer and nonprofit ally accused of failing to deliver on promised construction jobs.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

A Federal Court ruled last week that Brooklyn construction workers accusing Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner of failing to provide promised employment opportunities can proceed with their lawsuit.

In a 19-page decision, Brooklyn Federal Court Judge John Gleeson stated that seven Brooklyn construction workers who participated in a job training program created by FCRC and Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD) could sue for unpaid wages and a failure to provide union status.

The ruling is the latest legal wrinkle for FCRC, which this week lost its battle to avoid an entirely new environmental review based on an updated 25-year construction timetable.

Gleeson's decision is also likely to provide even more fodder for critics of BUILD, a nonprofit that has reportedly secured only 15 jobs as of December 2011 at Atlantic Yards out of hundreds of job-training program participants.


Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Suitable Partners: Barclays' Bob Diamond and Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

That's Dapper Bob Diamond in the pinstripes, next to Jay Z, at the Barclays Center (aka House that Eminent Domain Built) groundbreaking in 2010.

Doesn't it just make perfect sense that the bank that bought the naming rights to a corrupt land grab (and a subway station for a song) is also...corrupt.

At the same time, isn't it just a tiny bit distasteful (and embarrassing) that this shamed corporation gets to slap its logo all over Brooklyn and use the Borough for its branding advantage? From The Guardian:

Pressure builds on Barclays boss Bob Diamond
Barclays chief faces calls to step down after bank fined £290m for trying to manipulate key interest rates

Pressure is mounting on the boss of Barclays, Bob Diamond, following the £290m penalties slapped on the bank for trying to manipulate the price of crucial interest rates that affect the cost of borrowing for millions of customers around the world.

As Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury select committee pledged to call Diamond to give evidence to MPs, the Barclays chief executive was facing calls to step down.


Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Consistently inconsistent: Marty Markowitz wants the Barclays Center (liquor license, metal detectors) to be treated like other sports facilities--except regarding its fundamental placement in a neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, in recent comments on the proposed liquor license for the Barclays Center and the plan to use metal detectors, has had a seemingly consistent message: treat the Brooklyn arena the same as any other sports facility.

The inconsistency? From early on, the Brooklyn arena was not treated the same as any other sports facility.

The state agreed to override city zoning that bars sports facilities from being within 200 feet of residential areas, as well as override many other zoning rules.

So the tight fit of the arena into Prospect Heights has to be recognized, as even Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams--whose agency overrides the zoning--acknowledged this week, pointing to the dicey operation of the arena loading dock, with no ramp or holding area for trucks.


Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

Will Metal Detectors At Barclays Center Make You Feel Like A Criminal?


Actually, just walking into the Barclays Center for an event should make you feel like a criminal — metal detectors or no metal detectors.

The grand opening of the Barclays Center is only three months away, which means everyone has to start dotting their i's and crossing their t's. At a round table meeting between state and Barclays Center officials and community organizations last night, it was revealed that Barclays would have walk-through metal detectors.

Borough President Marty Markowitz has previously said he would “vehemently oppose” use of metal detectors as standard operating procedure. But Robert Sena, director of security for the 18,200-seat arena, added that this really is no big deal: “This is not going to be like the airport,” he said. “No one is going to ask to you to take off your shoes and belt.” And yet, he conspicuously doesn't say anything about whether they might try to touch your junk.


Related coverage...

7online.com, Fans subject to metal detectors, patdowns at Barclays Center

NoLandGrab: The media love a nontroversy! So much easier than covering real issues like court decisions and subsidies.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

You Still Have Time to Complain About Barclays Center Traffic

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

The public comment period on the Barclays Center traffic and transit mitigation plan has been extended to July 3 — giving you another week to lodge your complaint or register your support.

The long-overdue draft plan was presented in May — and promised fewer parking spaces for cars, and more mass transit, to discourage driving.

Still, many issues remain to be resolved — so read the plan and send your comments to the Empire State Development Corporation at AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov by July 3.


Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

Deron will be in Brooklyn for opener, especially if Dwight can be lured there as well

NY Post
by Peter Vecsey

That headline makes no sense. If Deron Williams will be in Brooklyn for the opener, what does it matter if Dwight Howard joins the Nets or not? Besides, the only way Deron Williams will be in Brooklyn for the opener is if the Nets host Dallas.

Soon after Bruce Ratner bought the Nets and revealed intentions to relocate from New Jersey to Brooklyn, he asked whether I’d attend more or fewer home games.

It’d be impossible to show up less than zero. Not that it mattered anyway, I told Ratner. “I’ll be retired by the time your dream becomes reality.”

As it turns out, I’ll be correct by just a few months.

Still, the chances I’ll show up in November for opening night are a tinge greater if Dwight Howard is the Nets’ centerfold vs. Brook Lopez, and Deron Williams is their lifeguard.

Then again, I promise to get there early and leave late if I know Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, Ralph Branca, Tom LaSorda, Don Zimmer, Roger Craig, Vin Scully, Rachel Robinson and Joan Hodges — or just the wives of Jackie and Gil — are going to bless the occasion with their revered presence.

OK, so what are the odds Dwight and Deron become made members of the Nets?


NoLandGrab: Uh, that'd be zero, Pete.

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

June 27, 2012

A sunset over Brooklyn's UFO

n0n3ck via Instagram

Only the Barclays Center mars the Brooklyn sunset, snapped from a rooftop fundraiser for dedicated boondoggle-fighter Tish James.


Posted by eric at 5:58 PM

Atlantic Yards faces a small setback

The state's top court ruled that the developer must forecast the Brooklyn project's effects over 25 years of construction, not 10.

Crain's NY Business
by Ian Thomas

Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corp. must conduct a new supplemental environmental impact statement of the Atlantic Yards project, as the New York Court of Appeals revealed Tuesday that it would not hear an appeal of lower court rulings.

The developer and the state's development arm opened themselves up to the legal challenge by modifying the plan in 2009.

The plan for the Brooklyn project, which includes the nearly complete Barclays Center and was first unveiled in 2003, was changed when it became clear that it would take far longer than the original estimate of 10 years to complete because of the recession and lawsuits filed by opponents. They successfully argued that the environmental impact should examine the effects on the neighborhood from 25 years of construction.

"We're pleased the court did not hear the appeal," said Jeffrey Baker, a partner at the law firm of Young Sommer, which represents Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a community group that was involved in bringing the original lawsuit back in November 2009. "This is an opportunity for the government to rethink and reformulate this project."


NoLandGrab: Let's be clear — the plan was never "changed." The 10-year claim was pure hogwash from the start. And the project will take far longer than 10 years to build due not to the recession or (completely warranted) lawsuits, but because there was no way it could ever have been built in 10 years.

Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, State Loses Final Appeal in Atlantic Yards Fight

Tuesday’s ruling ends more than a year of appeals by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). There is no additional avenue for appeal.

Posted by eric at 5:39 PM

Barclays Center Will Have Metal Detectors, Patdowns

by Leslie Albrecht

This is new technology that is more efficient, more effective, and less intrusive than a wand," Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum said in an email. "We take security very seriously and these detectors will allow us to most effectively screen arena visitors."

The Barclays Center security team will also work closely with security personnel at the nearby Atlantic Center Mall, as well as with the Long Island Rail Road and Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will "beef up their manning levels" at the newly renamed Atlantic Av-Barclays Center transit hub, watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report wrote.

Officials said the arena could hold up to 18,200 fans during Brooklyn Nets games, and that off-duty NYPD cops would be brought in to handle large-scale crowds.

Community Board 2 chairman John Dew asked whether Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner Companies would pay for the extra manpower.

"The answer is no," FCRC spokeswoman Ashley Cotton responded.


NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner has stuck the public with the Atlantic Yards check from the beginning — did you expect them to change now?

Related coverage...

NY1, Report: Barclays Center To Require Metal Detector Pass Throughs

Posted by eric at 5:32 PM


Brooklyn Magazine
by Henry Stewart

The MTA recently renamed the "Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street" subway station, where nine train lines cross, "Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center" after a deal with developer Forest City Ratner, which pays $200,000 a year for the rights. But nativist activists unhappy with the coming stadium now have a t-shirt to display their outraged pride, the Atlantic Yards Report reports. Deborah Goldstein, sister of Develop Don't Destroy founder Daniel Goldstein, designed the shirt, which reads, "I'm Still Calling it Atlantic Pacific."


Related coverage...

Can't Stop The Bleeding, An Alternative Birthday Gift For Deron Williams

Posted by eric at 5:22 PM

At (belated) meeting on arena operations, some specifics on parking, questions about loading dock and traffic agents, and a flat statement that the public will pay for extra police

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports in depth on last night's arena-perations meeting.

A long-awaited meeting last night on Barclays Center operational issues--parking, security, sanitation--was deemed useful but frustrating by community members who’ve been watching developer Forest City Ratner plow ahead with arena-related construction, even without official approvals.

“This is a start, six months late,” observed Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association, noting the tight timetable before the arena opens Sept. 28. He said he told Empire State Development Corporation CEO Kenneth Adams, a convenor of the Borough Hall meeting, that he almost didn’t attend because he was so frustrated by Forest City’s decision, for example, to proceed on the planned surface parking lot without a work permit.

The Barclays Center operational team, which did most of the talking, delivered a good amount of boilerplate, as well as occasional specifics, such as the configuration of parking lot and planned entrances and exits. Krashes pointed out, however, that a lot of questions remain unanswered, such as the location of Traffic Enforcement Agents (TEAs) to steer traffic so it doesn’t overly impact the residential neighborhood, or plans for emergency and fire service in the neighborhood. (Neither was the location of pedestrian managers noted.)

Community consultation will continue, but mainly after the arena opens.

Adams led off by saying that ESD, the Borough President’s Office, and Forest City will convene an Atlantic Yards quality-of-life committee once the arena opens. It will involve state and city agencies, and unlike the bimonthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, which meets during work hours, will “meet regularly, in the evenings.” Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for ESD, is working on it.

Forest City’s Ashley Cotton added that a community affairs officer would be hired for the arena.


NoLandGrab: As long as these committees and staff positions continue to serve purely to push information at the community rather than to actually collaborate with it, they're essentially meaningless.

Posted by eric at 1:14 PM

The Vice-President of the KHL Might Want to Familiarize Himself With the Barclays Center’s Hockey Configuration

New York Magazine
by Joe DeLessio

Could it be that this guy got his arenas confused?

The KHL released its 2012-13 schedule today, and as expected, it includes a pair of regular-season games at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The league's vice-president, Vladimir Shalaev, confirmed to Sovetsky Sport that Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg will play each other on January 19 and 20 at the currently under-construction arena. But when speaking to the media today, he also took a shot at New York's other big-time sports arena. Via Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov, who has translated the quotes into English:

Speaking to the media this morning, Shalaev said, "The Barclays Center easily surpasses the New York Rangers' home at Madison Square Garden as a hockey venue."

He added "there's nothing good about [MSG]. Anyone who's been there understands that arena is no longer suited to modern hockey."

Here's the thing, though. We're sure that when the Barclays Center opens, it'll be a wonderful, state-of-the-art arena, with great sight lines for basketball games and concerts and all sorts of other events. But it wasn't built for hockey: Original plans would have properly accommodated an NHL–size rink, but those were scrapped, and what you see above is the funky seating configuration for the preseason game the Islanders and Devils will play at the arena in September. Notice the lack of, you know, seating behind one of the goals.


Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

Barclays metal detectors

NY Post
by Rich Calder

In a stunning diss to the Borough of Kings, the head of security for Barclays Center last night said the Nets’ new home will feature walk-through metal detectors that all fans must pass before watching NBA games, concerts and other events when the arena opens Sept. 28.

“We’re taking security very seriously,” Robert Sena, director of security for the 18,200-seat arena, told community leaders at Borough Hall.

He also said there will be game-day bag inspections and that fans “triggering a light” at the metal detectors would be patted down.

No other sporting venue in the tristate area relies on metal detectors. Most – such as Madison Square Garden and MetLife Stadium -- subject fans to pat-downs or “security wands” that pick up metal objects.

Sena said metal detectors are “less intrusive” than being patted down, but even some of the Nets’ biggest supporters aren’t on board with the arena security plan.

“I was considering getting season tickets, but I don’t want to feel like a criminal when I go to a game,” said longtime fan Robert Master, 34, of Brooklyn. “They don’t even have metal detectors at [the Nets former home] Prudential Center, and crime is much worse in Newark than Brooklyn.”

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who led the push to bring the Nets to Brooklyn, said he’d “vehemently oppose” use of metal detectors as standard operating procedure.


NoLandGrab: Marty will "vehemently oppose" Nets' fans having to walk through metal detectors, but he doesn't seem too concerned that quite a few Brooklyn public school students have to do the same when going school.

Posted by eric at 12:58 PM

New Barclays Center Subway Stop Inspires Protest T-Shirt

by Leslie Albrecht

A local T-shirt designer upset that one of Brooklyn's oldest and busiest subway stops has been renamed for the new Barclays Center wants to keep the station's former name alive — in 100 percent cotton.

Deb Goldstein, owner of T-shirt design company Miss Wit Designs, has created a shirt emblazoned with the declaration, "I'm still calling it Atlantic Av-Pacific St" — a reference to the former Atlantic-Pacific subway hub in Downtown Brooklyn, which was quietly rechristened Atlantic Av-Barclays Center in May.

Goldstein, a 15-year Brooklyn resident who now lives in Sunset Park, is selling the $14 T-shirts online and is looking for a local store to carry them.

She said the garment is a subtle, wearable protest against the controversial arena, slated to debut in September with a concert by Jay-Z, a co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

Goldstein, the sister of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein, has long been involved in fighting the arena and the surrounding Atlantic Yards development. She's put her sloganeering shirts to work for the cause in the past, getting garments made for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

Yankee Doodle Dandy

The Ball is Round

What does this UK "football" fan know that we don't know?

After seven visits to New York (and New Jersey) in six years I was finally completing my stadium list by a visit to the new Yankee stadium. I had been to Meadowlands (2005 England v Columbia), Yankee Stadium (2005 Yankees v Red Sox), Shea Stadium (2005 Mets v Diamondbacks), Madison Square Garden (2005 New York Rangers v Washington Capitals), CitiField (2010 Mets v Red Sox), MetLife Stadium (2011 New York Jets v New England Revolution), Prudential Center (2012 New Jersey Nets v Miami Heat) and then Sunday night I had been to Harrison to watch Red Bulls play DC United. All boxes ticked until New Jersey Nets move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in January 2013 (and become the Brooklyn Nets or something).

Emphasis, ours.


Posted by eric at 12:47 PM

Nets Raise Their Offer To Deron Williams To A Birthday Party, Two Human Children

by Barry Petchesky

The Nets are getting stupid-desperate in their quest to resign guard Deron Williams, even tying up a Soho street with one of those obnoxious billboards-on-wheels.

Deron Wiliams's wish list reportedly consists of just two teams: the Dallas Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets. For a little extra-contractual love, the Nets drove a big old truck up to Williams's Soho home today, in honor of his 28th birthday. They also left a pair of children, but considering Williams's wife Amy is the one who tweeted out the photo, we're willing to consider the possibility that they're his.


Photo: Amy Williams via Instagram

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM


F'd in Park Slope

Serious nightclubbers recently endured a major blow to their future party plans when it was announced that bottle service will not be allowed at the borough's most controversial giant wicker basket building, the Barclays Center. This is bad news for anyone who aspires to live like P. Diddy or needs an entire bottle of Grey Goose during a basketball game, but somewhat positive news for concerned citizens of Park Slope.


Posted by eric at 12:35 PM

New York State Court of Appeals denies ESDC and Forest City Ratner appeal of order to revisit 2009 Atlantic Yards plan


In a final defeat for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) in their attempt to illegally extend construction of the Atlantic Yards project from 10 to 25 years, New York State’s highest court today denied their motion to appeal a July 2011 decision ordering a revisit of a 2009 modification to the plan and additional environmental analyses. ESDC and FCRC lost their previous appeal by a unanimous decision of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division. The denial by the New York State Court of Appeals means that the July order by Justice Marcy Friedman will stand, and the supplemental environmental impact study (SEIS) must proceed.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Court of Appeals: Forest City and ESDC Must Conduct Environmental Impact Study Based on 25-Year Atlantic Yards Timetable

Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

Commercial Klutch: June Edition


This month our masked commercial crusader peers into his crystal ball.

This column is dedicated to our dedicated reader & commenter, Trolley Dodger. Whereas a request was made for insider information, said shall be provided. Much of what is stated is future or near future, yet it will come to pass my friend.

Forest City will tear down the first Atlantic Center Mall property and make a bigger and better one. They will also demolish Mo’s and PC Richards and replace it with a huge building, with Apple Computer at the base. The arena’s huge effect on both the psyche of Brooklyn and the surrounding real estate will bring us tourist and B & T folks, turning the immediate area into a party. Watch for a fun venue in 604 Pacific. 750 Pacific won’t be torn down but will become a fancy tech tenant property, for one tenant.


NoLandGrab: That crystal ball could use some Windex. For one thing, the Atlantic Center Mall was designed so that additional towers could be constructed on top of the existing building; it won't be torn down. For another, Forest City doesn't have the financial wherewithal to take on something like that. You're better off relying on the Magic 8 Ball.

Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

Barclays to pay $400M-plus to settle LIBOR charges

Barclays agrees to pay $400M-plus to settle charges it attempt to manipulate key lending rates

AP via Yahoo! Finance

Yes, Brooklyn, your arena is named for a thoroughly crooked financial outfit.

Barclays PLC and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle charges that it attempted to manipulate and made false reports related to setting key global interest rates.

The rates affect the costs of hundreds of trillions of dollars in loans and investments such as bonds, auto loans and derivatives.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Wednesday that the incidents occurred between 2005 and 2009 and sometimes took place daily.

The CFTC said Barclays senior management and multiple traders were involved in the matter and that they also coordinated with traders at other banks to make false submissions.

Barclays President Bob Diamond also announced he and three senior bank executives were waiving any bonus for the year as a result of the case.


NoLandGrab: That's nice, but shouldn't Bob Diamond be waving goodbye as he heads off to jail?

Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

At meeting on arena operations, the shadow of today's court decision; also, while state agency seems open to new governance entity, developer Forest City Ratner remains opposed

Atlantic Yards Report

There was a slightly surreal air to a long-scheduled meeting tonight regarding Barclays Center operations, notably security, parking, and sanitation, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall. (I'll have a full report in the morning.)

After all, Forest City Ratner External Affairs VP Ashley Cotton, a recent hire, led off by asserting that “we have learned that transparency and sharing details as we go is the best policy,” only hours after the state Court of Appeals rejected leave to appeal--filed by the developer and the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards--of a decision saying that the defendants had failed in such transparency.

No one mentioned that case until Gib Veconi, who as a leader of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and BrooklynSpeaks was a prime mover behind the suit, brought it up near the end of the two-and-a-half hour meeting.

“At this point, when we can see a draft scope of analysis for an SEIS?” Veconi asked Kenneth Adams, CEO of Empire State Development (ESD). He was referring to the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement ordered by a lower court to analyze the worst-case impacts of a 25-year project buildout, as opposed to the long-professed ten-year schedule (and the alternate delayed scenario, covering 15 years, that ESD considered when it re-approved the project in 2009).

“Obviously we have to obey the court's order,” Adams said. “We'll start working on it.”

Given that it’s been nearly a year since state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman initially ordered the SEIS, Veconi countered, “our hope would be to see the scope of analysis”--the precursor to the actual study--in the very near future.”


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Live Blog: Barclays Center Operations Round Table Discussion at Borough Hall

Welcome to the live blog of Tuesday night's round table meeting between state and Barclays Center officials and community organizations on the subect of the plan for security, sanitation and parking once the 19,000-seat arena opens Sept. 28.

6:23 p.m.: Empire State Development Corporation head Kenneth Adams says that he will soon create a Barclays Center quality of life committee.

6:35 p.m.: John Sparks, Barclays Center's head, is going over the season calendar: 82 NBA games, 41 at home. Starts in mid-October. We're forecasting to do 225 events. There will be hockey at a pre-season event. There will be two ice shows, about 50 concerts, and 26 games of college basketball including the "Barclays Classic" triple header. The Ringling Bros. Circus will also perform. There will be between 14 and 25 boxing events.

6:40 p.m.: Barclays officials are working with the Department of Sanitation to make sure the area around the arena will be kept clean. Sparks also notes that they take security very seriously because one bad patron can affect the experience of all the "guests."

NoLandGrab: Much the same way one bad arena can affect the experience of all of the neighborhoods' residents.

Posted by eric at 12:07 AM

Court Rejection of Appeal Means Atlantic Yards Will Undergo New Environmental Review

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Bruce Ratner has lost his fourth court decision in a row. Today NY State's high court, the Court of Appeals, rejected the developer's (and the Empire State State Development Corporation's) request to appeal the lower court's unanimous upholding of the Supreme Court order that Atlantic Yards must undergo a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).

The suit, originally brought by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and other community organizations, has had a long and winding path. At the core the case is about the State's bogus claims (and subsequent impact study) that the project build out would be 10 years, when in actuality it will likely be 25 years at minimum, and thus the attendant impacts will be substantially different then the ones studied.

The ruling today and the previous ones show, thankfully, that NY courts can actually be a check against public agencies running amok on behalf of private interests.

The ruling also means that the bulk of the Atlantic Yards project will undergo an SEIS, which will include a public hearing.

The time is now for ESDC and Governor Cuomo to intervene to insure that Forest City Ratner doesn't hold a huge chunk of Prospect Heights hostage for the next generation.


Posted by eric at 12:01 AM

June 26, 2012

Court of Appeals denies effort by ESDC, Forest City to appeal timetable case; state must analyze impact of 25-year buildout; will leave cloud over project as arena opening approaches

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner's legal losing streak continues...

Yes, the Empire State Development Corporation will have to conduct a court-ordered analysis of the potential 25-year impacts of Atlantic Yards construction after all, leaving a cloud of concern over the project--and a rebuke to the state agency--as the Barclays Center proceeds to a September 28 opening.

The project was long expected to take ten years, but document signed in late 2009 gave developer Forest City Ratner 25 years.

More like long claimed to take ten years. Everyone knew there was no way it would get done in ten years, especially those making the claim.

The state agency, as well as Forest City, had sought to appeal a unanimous Appellate Division decision upholding a lower court's requirement of Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). The state Court of Appeals, in a decision issued without elaboration, denied permission for such an appeal. (Had the appellate court been split, an appeal would have been automatic.)

The decision to seek an appeal rather than pursue the SEIS and evaluate the impacts of an extended buildout had rankled community members who'd gone to court, in cases filed by two coalitions, led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks.

The lower court ruling required an SEIS to evaluate Phase 2 of the project, the towers planned east of Sixth Avenue and the arena block, thus sparing the arena. However, many questions remain regarding the parking lot planned to serve the arena, located on the southeast block of the site, destined ultimately for towers.


Posted by eric at 3:22 PM

From n+1, "Berman's Children": how a key Supreme Court case furthered both the eminent domain that enabled Atlantic Yards and the landmarking that shaped the neighborhoods nearby

Atlantic Yards Report

In the latest issue of n+1, attorney Andrew Jacobs offers an intriguing take on Atlantic Yards, titled "Berman’s Children" (subscribers only), explaining how the legal doctrine that enabled the state power of eminent domain--and the not-so-transparent agency overseeing the project--also brought us the Prospect Heights Historic District, and, of course, the earlier historic districts in the radius of the development site, thus creating enduring tensions from an expansion of state power.

"Efforts to designate the Prospect Heights Historic District began in 2006 and came to fruition in the summer of 2009," Jacobs writes. "The Yards, in some sense, created the District."

Jacobs finds a thread of connection in Suleiman Osman's The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, who explains how postwar, post-industrial New York faced both "urban modernism and antimodern, romantic urbanism."

The former, including eminent domain, relied on experts "without electoral accountability to build the modern city." The latter, at least at the beginning, was outside the system:

As Osman writes, “The historic landscape was born in the wake of the modern projects. One could not exist without the other.”
Osman’s book is full of sentences like these, connecting the phenomena of early gentrification with a common sense of paradox. The brownstoners’ aversion to suburbia “mixed an anticorporatist critique of ‘tickytacky’ tract homes . . . with a veiled disdain for their provincial denizens.” ... To Osman, our ambivalence about how Brooklyn and places like it have changed in the last sixty years is not a failure of nerve. Rather, it is a reflection of the shape-shifting motivations and actions that wrought that change. Today, Prospect Heights’ struggle against Atlantic Yards is a sort of sequel to Brooklyn Heights’ against Cadman Plaza.

Yes, but I'd add that the struggle has been much more than Prospect Heights. Organizations from equally storied neighborhoods like Park Slope and Fort Greene, notably including longstanding residents, also have struggled against Atlantic Yards. And the failure of the public sector to deliver benefits like jobs and subsidized housing has left room for private companies to proclaim public goals.


Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

Et tu, Apple?

The following hit our email in-box this morning:

Grand opening: The Apple Store, Ridge Hill.

Introducing the Apple Store, Ridge Hill.
Join us for our grand opening June 30 at 10:00 a.m.

We think not.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Your Ad Here, on a Fire Truck? Broke Cities Sell Naming Rights

The New York Times
by Michael Cooper

Speaking of still calling it Atlantic Av—Pacific St.

Should this city’s red fire trucks be transformed into rolling billboards?

After Baltimore officials made the wrenching decision to close three fire companies later this summer, the City Council initially sought to avert the cuts with a new money-raising strategy: it passed a resolution this month urging the administration to explore selling ads on the city’s fire trucks.

Pizza chains now advertise on some school buses, as a growing number of states consider allowing school districts to sell ads. The Baltimore City Council member who wrote the legislation urging the city to sell ads on fire trucks, William Welch, said he was simply trying to find a way to help the city meet its growing needs in a time of dwindling revenues and support.

The downturn seems to have prompted more public entities to sell advertising or auction off the naming rights of public places, said Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, the campaign coordinator for the Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project, which works to curb the spread of commercialization. “We are bombarded by ads everywhere we go, and these are public spaces meant to be reflective of the values of our society, co-opted by the private sector,” she said.

Transit systems across the nation have been particularly aggressive in recent years in trying to sell the naming rights of stations. They are struggling with an estimated $77.7 billion shortfall just to get to a state of good repair, at a time of growing ridership, shrinking state support and budgetary shortfalls.

In Brooklyn, new signs went up last month at the Atlantic Avenue subway stop bearing a sponsored addition to its name: Barclays Center, for which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is being paid $4 million over 20 years.

NoLandGrab: One reason transit systems are struggling so mightily is that some of them give away property for a fraction of its market value. And if corporations are the only entities that can ably pay for this stuff, perhaps we need to increase taxes on those corporations — rather than allowing them to keep the naming-rights revenue for allegedly "public" sports facilities.

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM


F'd in Park Slope

Were you also a bit miffed to hear that the linkATLANTIC/PACIFIC SUBWAY STOP WAS RENAMED THE BARCLAYS CENTER STOP? Now you can wear that big eye roll on your sleeve with an link"I'M STILL CALLING IT ATLANTIC/PACIFIC" T-SHIRT via Miss Witt Designs.


Related coverage...

2nd Ave. Sagas, T-Shirt of the Day: A Brooklyn subway landmark

Miss Wit Tees is selling these for $14 a pop. That’s one way to fight a Bruce Ratner-inspired naming-rights deal. The protest language:

You can tear the buildings down, and run folks out of town, and spin your tales of heroism. Billionaires come, and billionaires go. Names change, streets are bulldozed, neighborhoods divided, but these coordinates remain the same. Change is great, destruction ain’t. When the name becomes Atlantic/Housing Way we might sing a sweeter tune. You can call it the Barclay’s whatever, but I’m Still Calling it Atlantic Avenue Pacific Street!

This ain’t the first time I’ve heard these sentiments. Based on the city’s collective experiences with the Triborough Bridge renaming, I have a feeling the discarded Pacific St. moniker will live on well beyond its elimination from the subway map.

From Russia With Dunk, Barclays Center Opponent To Distribute T-Shirts

I think the opposition to the Nets’ move to Brooklyn puts more pressure on the team to succeed quickly. If the Nets continue having losing seasons and attracting few fans, Barclays Center opponents may be more justified in claiming that the Nets wasted a Brooklyn neighborhood.

NoLandGrab: Whether the Nets go 82-0 or 0-82 doesn't change anything. A corrupt land grab is a corrupt land grab.

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

Funding questions resurface for San Francisco 49ers stadium after board yanks $30 million

San Jose Mercury News
by Mike Rosenberg

Schools before stadiums? Why, that's downright un-American.

Following a sudden $30 million loss of tax funds, the San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara leaders said Monday they would not slow stadium construction even as they scrambled to figure out how the cut could affect the rest of the money needed to build the project.

An oversight board consisting of officials from around Santa Clara County on Friday used a new state law to claim the redevelopment funds, which voters had earmarked for the stadium, should be used on things like education and not a pro sports stadium.

While the money is a tiny fraction of what's needed for the $1.2 billion stadium, it served as the initial building block to fund the rest of the project, similar to a down payment on a home mortgage. The tax funds were used to secure up to $950 million in bank loans, which capped the team's decade-long saga to finance a new home field.

If the loans disappear or shrink, it could delay the project -- or worse -- just months after a festive groundbreaking in April. But officials first are preparing their legal strategy, starting with an appeal to the state and negotiations with the county.


Posted by eric at 9:48 AM

Jeffries vs. Barron: Head-to-Head On the Issues

Comparing the positions of both Democratic candidates for the newly created 8th Congressional District in Central Brooklyn.

Bed-Stuy Patch
by Paul Leonard

It's decision time.

With voting set to begin Tuesday in this year's first-of-a-kind early summer primary, registered Democrats in the 8th Congressional District will make a choice between Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Councilman Charles Barron.

To help voters decide, here is a head-to-head matchup of the respective candidates' views on important issues based on a mix of Patch's own reporting, the reporting of others, or statements in the public record.

Atlantic Yards


Fiercely opposed. As a Congressional candidate, Barron has emerged as one of the most forceful critics of the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center and the rest of the Atlantic Yards redevelopment project—calling on residents to boycott Brooklyn Nets games and arena concerts such as Jay-Z's planned series of shows in September.


Highly critical. Compared to Barron, Jeffries' position on Atlantic Yards redevelopment has been more nuanced, with the Fort Greene Democrat calling for more oversight in the form of an Atlantic Yards Governance Act that would create an independent board to keep the best interests of the community in mind.


NoLandGrab: One man's "nuance" is another man's fence-sitting.

Related coverage...

People of Color Organize!, On the Smears Against Charles Barron: A Letter to MoveOn

Joan P. Gibbs takes issue with MoveOn's support for Jeffries.

I write to express my opposition to your recent email concerning the congressional race in the eighth congressional district in Brooklyn, New York and to tell you why I will voting for Charles Barron on June 26, and, hopefully, in November, notwithstanding my disagreements with his statements and actions referenced in your email.

I am voting for Charles Barron on June 26 because he has been one of the most consistent champions for affordable housing, jobs, health care, public education (from pre-school to graduate school) as well as well as an outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Charles is one of a few elected officials York City who has consistently opposed the Atlantic Yards project, another issue of great importance to many, including myself, in the eighth congressional district.

Over the years, I have attended many marches rallies on the aforementioned issues where I have seen or heard Barron speak. I have nothing against Hakeen Jeffries, his major opponent. However, I have rarely seen or heard him at these marches and rallies. I recently saw Jefferies at the “Silent Anti-Stop and Frisk March’; however he was not at the rally against Atlantic Yards the week before. In short, on balance, I believe that Charles is the candidate who most passionately represent and fight for the issues and concerns of the residents of the eighth congressional district.

Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

June 25, 2012

Sports Glummery

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White bills this as a post [about] sports fandom [in which you are] going to get to read about Jane Jacobs quoting evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould on the subject of baseball using language you have to look up in the dictionary.

(Above, a cartoon by Mark Hurwitt, that perhaps doesn’t precisely coincide with what I am saying in this article, except at the very end. More about Mr. Hurwitt here. Judy Gorman, Mr. Hurwitt’s wife, a singer musician whose repertoire includes a number of activist protest songs- including Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”- is performing at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema on Wednesday night, June 27, 1912, at 9:00 PM. I am expecting that one of her songs will be “Everybody Knows” – See DDDB’s open letter to Mr. Cohen mentioning this song.)

Even without putting adolescence into the mix, sports fandom seems to be frequently accompanied by a lack of critical thinking, an abandonment of judgement. That doesn’t mean that sports fans should be denied their own choices, but when such a lack of critical thinking and judgment is abused as an opportunity to hurt others who are not in a position to look out for themselves it becomes highly objectionable. Children and student athletes shouldn’t be taken advantage of, just the same way as I object, when the lack of critical thinking associated with sports fandom is abused to divert my taxes into the pockets of the wealthiest or to spearhead their unfair land grabs at the expense of the poor and others through eminent domain abuse.

When sports fandom collides with critical thinking about abuses it would seem that it ought to be a teachable moment where we as adults can educate the younger generation that there are limits that should not be surpassed in the name of uncritical fandom: Why then is it that we so often feel that it must instead be the reverse and that adult judgment, knowledge and experience must succumb to the childish urge to cater to fandom at all costs?


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Behind the revision of the railyard deal: MTA says it leaves agency whole, won't try to put a dollar figure on work so far, says disruptive work to meet deadline not expected

Atlantic Yards Report

As noted on June 7, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that developer Forest City Ratner, which successfully revised the Vanderbilt Yard development rights deal to build a smaller, cheaper replacement railyard and to attenuate payments, has managed to save cash flow by renegotiating another aspect of the schedule with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Instead of beginning the permanent railyard this June 30, as indicated in an MTA Staff Summary dated 6/22/09, the official start date has been moved back 18 months to 12/31/13, with terms disclosed to the MTA board members on June 4.

Now that I have the underlying documents and posed questions to the agency, I can attempt answers at some of the lingering questions:

  • Does Forest City save money? Probably.
  • Does it leave the MTA where it wanted? Yes, but thanks in part to the agency's own delays.
  • Will a concentrated schedule mean noisy late-night work? No, they say.
  • Can the schedule be extended/relaxed again? Surely.
  • Does Forest City have the upper hand? Looks that way.


NoLandGrab: Next time you curse the fact that the bus you used to take no longer exists, or wait 30 minutes for a subway, or find yourself in a filthy '60s-era subway car, don't curse the MTA — they're just following orders from their parent company, Forest City Ratner.

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Barclays Center – and down the stretch we come

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

There are fewer than 100 days remaining before the scheduled opening of the $1 billion Barclays Center, the Nets’ new home near downtown Brooklyn.

Construction is said to be on schedule, but beginning tomorrow some work – including elevator installation and roof finishings – will be going 24/7.

Will the Nets avoid some of the headaches that plagued the Devils when the Prudential Center opened in Newark in 2007?

If the arena really is done in three months, the buzz about the series of concerts before the Nets’ first game will mean the plan was masterful.

But if any shows have to be postponed, some Nets executives will wind up kicking themselves.


NoLandGrab: Rest assured that Bruce Ratner will leave no Prospect Heights resident well rested in the push to finish construction by September 28th.

Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

Notes from the Isles Draft Party

Yes! Islanders

Interesting to note were some (pretty nice looking) t-shirts for sale. Many sales associates were pushing them pretty hard as I was walking through the store. I have never seen a shirt promoting anything like this. They have an image of the Brooklyn Bridge on them and they are promoting the pre-season game at Barclays Center as an ‘inaugural event’. As a social studies teacher, one word popped into my head: propaganda. I think it’s pretty evident that the team wants to send a message to the many parties involved in he arena situation that a) this is happening and b) we like Brooklyn as an option. One of two things may happen 25 years from now. 1) These shirts will fetch a premium on eBay as a ‘vintage’ tee for the Brooklyn hipsters; if the hipsters are still there. Or 2) the Quebec City hipster crowd will be sporting these bad boys. Time will tell.


NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure that blog will be calling itself "Oui! Nordiques" come 2016.

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

Brooklyn decides on Mascot

Game Time Nation

Get ready to meet the Brooklyn Knight, defender and supporter of all things Nets.

Captain Brooklyn or the Brooklyn Decker or Brooky the Bridge apparently didn’t cut it for the Brooklyn Nets’ new mascot, which has been developed through the help of the folks at Marvel Comics, industry and team sources said. The new mascot is said to have a knight’s theme and will replace Sly Fox — who, like many in the team’s New Jersey fan base, will not be making the trek across two rivers to the Barclays Center.

It is not known exactly when the Nets will showcase their new mascot.


NoLandGrab: 'Cause nothing says authentic Brooklyn like... the Peerage?

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Nets-arena job rush

NY Post
by Rich Calder

There’s a full-court press to work at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Operators of the Brooklyn Nets’ future home said yesterday they’ve already gotten 18,812 applications for 1,900 part-time and 100 full-time jobs that will become available in time for the center’s Sept. 28 opening.

Mayor Bloomberg praised arena developer Forest City Ratner and the city’s Small Business Services department for going “over and beyond” to attract Brooklyn residents — especially those at public-housing projects — as promised through job fairs and church visits.

Of the applicants, 15,688 — or 88 percent — reside in Brooklyn, and 8,929 — or 47 percent — live in public housing.

Arena operators, which began taking applications three weeks ago, will begin preliminary interviews Monday.


Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

Hey, Wait a Second...

The Ballclub

I was knocking around Brooklyn a few weeks ago when I chanced upon this service advisory and did a double take.

So, the MTA wouldn't call the 7 train stop "Willets Point - Citi Field," but they have no problem re-naming the Atlantic Avenue stop in Brooklyn to "Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center."

Back in 2009, I believe the MTA refused to re-name the Shea Stadium stop to Citi Field because they wouldn't give a station a corporate name. After some sleuthing, I found that Bruce Ratner, the man responsible for the Barclays Center and also the displacement of innumerable people through Eminent Domain for his Atlantic Yards Project that is currently still a hole in the ground, threw $200,000 a year for 20 years at the MTA in order to make this change.

So, I suppose, a station name can be bought for the right price.


NoLandGrab: Well, we're still calling it Atlantic Av-Pacific St.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM


Room Eight

Howard Graubard, aka "Gatemouth," thinks City Council Member Diana Reyna is making a mistake by endorsing Charles Barron in tomorrow's Congressional primary rather than Hakeem Jeffries.

Could anything define parochial idiocy better than a so-called "progressive" who thinks Atlantic Yards is more important than same sex marriage.

Wow, she has something in common with Bruce Ratner besides being utterly repugnant.


Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

June 24, 2012

A t-shirt: "I'm still calling it Atlantic Av-Pacific St"

Atlantic Yards Report

The renaming of a subway station Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, courtesy of $200,000 a year naming rights deal the Metropolitan Transportation Authority signed with Forest City Ratner, doesn't sit well with everyone.

From t-shirt maker Miss Wit (aka Deborah Goldstein, sister of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein):

You can tear the buildings down, and run folks out of town, and spin your tales of heroism. Billionaires come, and billionaires go. Names change, streets are bulldozed, neighborhoods divided, but these coordinates remain the same. Change is great, destruction ain't. When the name becomes Atlantic/Housing Way we might sing a sweeter tune. You can call it the Barclay's whatever, but
I'm Still Calling it Atlantic Avenue Pacific Street!

The t-shirts ($14) are still in production, with an approximate ship date 7/7/12.


Posted by steve at 8:15 AM

The inevitability of the Barclays Center: a parent who opposed arena admits they'll be there for a son who's "such a big basketball fan"

Atlantic Yards Report

An interview in Brooklyn magazine with British-Nigerian actress Carmen Ejogo, a Fort Greene resident, CARMEN SINGS OF BROOKLYN:

When I meet Carmen Ejogo in Park Slope, the coffee shop is crawling with children; it’s like a hip daycare, and she apologizes for the clamor. Ejogo lives nearby in Fort Greene with the actor Jeffrey Wright and their two children, and seems keenly aware of the delicate balance between her art—performing in movies like Away We Go, Pride and Glory, and the upcoming Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 musical that has her acting and singing alongside Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston—and the responsibilities of family life. “You’re clearly not a dad,” she says in her crisp London accent when I ask about her favorite local bars; later, she speaks eloquently about the trouble with Brooklyn’s new basketball stadium. “We were so against that happening, but my son is such a big basketball fan, and I know we’ll end up there at some point.”

Surely Ejogo speaks for a good number of parents who ultimately will find themselves at the Barclays Center with their children, however much their distaste for the project and the process. And some fraction will hold out.

The question is: how many will remember, contra Mayor Mike Bloomberg's assertion, at the March 2010 arena groundbreaking, that "No one's going to remember how long it took, they're only going to see that it was done." Answer: a good number as well, but that will depend on the press.


Posted by steve at 8:07 AM

June 23, 2012

Was Barclays Center struck by lightning?

Atlantic Yards Watch

Atlantic Yards Watch's webcam facing Barclays Center captured the photo above at 2:25 PM. From the photo is not possible to tell whether the lightning is striking the arena or hitting an area on the horizon behind it.


Posted by steve at 5:36 PM

Despite stop-work order, Atlantic Yards parking lot proceeds, as (per FCR) tanks have not been installed, only "placed"

Atlantic Yards Report

There's been a lot of work on the Atlantic Yards surface parking lot in the past week, despite a stop-work order regarding the installation of stormwater detention tanks, aimed to collect water so it doesn't overwhelm the sewer system.

Indeed, the installation on Block 1129--between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, and Dean and Pacific streets--looks fairly far along.

If so, it looks like Forest City Ratner's decision to start work on the installation without a permit to do so--it describes the tanks were "placed"-- has paid dividends.

After all, the Department of Buildings (DOB) says the developer's work these past few days was not out of compliance.

Installation vs. placement

Work done after stop-work order, via AY Watch As stated on Atlantic Yards Watch, regarding work done June 15, "Work that appears to be unapproved is taking place on block 1129. What appear to be retaining tanks for the detention system have been installed. Excavation has taken place. The detention system is shown as being 'disapproved' on the DOB website."

"Impactful work has taken place causing vibrations," the report continued. "A hoe ram has been used. Large stones have been dropped in containers. A selection of photos has been submitted to the Department of Buildings."

According to the Department of Buildings web site (screenshot below), a partial stop-work order was issued on June 15 and partly rescinded on June 18, but only to continue grading. However, the DOB also allows work intended to shore up safety, and that offers broad latitude.


Posted by steve at 5:32 PM

A kerfuffle over Kemistry: no, they haven't abandoned plans for space

Atlantic Yards Report

Though they've gotten the thumbs-down from Community Board Six (coverage) regarding plans for bottle service, and seen significant opposition from neighbors, local elected officials, and a church, operators of the proposed Kemistry Lounge on Flatbush Avenue near Prospect Place say they are still pursuing plans for a restaurant, bar, and lounge.

They have apparently not yet applied for a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority. Today, the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, which had helped mediate discussions between the operators and neighbors, tweeted, "Kemistry lounge folks asked to leave space and break lease after not paying rent since March."

That information, however, was secondhand and incorrect. "Kemistry is moving forward with our project," stated project manager Damali L'Elie. "I recently saw a tweet from Flatbush BID stating that we have asked to be released from our lease, this is incorrect. We fully intend to complete construction of Kemistry and have a grand opening shortly after."

("We are still working on our time line," she added, in response to my query.)

The space at 260 Flatbush Avenue would have an exit on residential Prospect Place between Flatbush Avenue and Sixth Avenue. The lounge, which would hold up to 225 people, would be only the second bottle-service establishment in Brooklyn, and closer to a quiet residential neighborhood than most such clubs in the city.

The proprietors have said bottle service is integral to their plans. Alarm over such service has increased in recent weeks, after a brawl at a club in SoHo. While the Barclays Center will feature a branch of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, it will not feature bottle service, as at its other locations.


Posted by steve at 5:27 PM

Beginning Monday, work 24/7 at the arena elevator system and roof/facade

Atlantic Yards Report

Starting Monday, work at the Barclays Center site will go 24/7, according to a Construction Alert issued today at about 5:40 pm by Empire State Development, after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner.

The three-shift work involves elevator system electrical work, as well as work on the facade and roof. A crane will be operating, as well as "task lighting."

Three-shift work is expensive, and often a sign of crunch time, so it's a little questionable for this supplemental alert to use the soothingly routine header that appears on the bi-weekly Construction Alert: "Construction at the Arena Site Progresses as Scheduled."


Posted by steve at 5:26 PM

June 22, 2012

Effort to reduce required parking in Downtown Brooklyn moves ahead, supported by Forest City Ratner, other developers

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner, among other developers, supports a cut in required parking in Downtown Brooklyn, a possible precedent for a similar cut in parking attached to the Atlantic Yards housing planned nearby.

Streetsblog reported yesterday, in Developers, CB 2: Let’s Repurpose Downtown Brooklyn’s Empty Parking:

Parking reform in Downtown Brooklyn doesn’t go far enough, said developers at a public hearing last night, and the land use committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2 agreed. They want reduced parking requirements to apply not only to new buildings, as proposed by the Department of City Planning, but also to existing buildings and developments under construction. This would allow developers to convert empty floors of parking into retail, housing, or office space.

...Indirectly, making parking reform retroactive could also allow future developments to be built without parking, despite the continued existence of parking minimums. Existing buildings could rent out no-longer-required spaces to satisfy the parking requirements for new projects going up nearby, confirmed Purnima Kapur, director of DCP’s Brooklyn office.

The call for retroactively reducing parking requirements was echoed by representatives from Two Trees Management Company, Forest City Ratner, 388 Bridge and The Hub. Between all of their Downtown Brooklyn projects, hundreds of parking spaces could be repurposed.


Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

Department of City Planning announces plan to streamline agency review of land use applications; said to save developers money and create jobs faster

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on New York City's efforts to streamline the land-use review process — which seems to us just one more step toward making the city an enclave for the wealthy.

Note that this all will happen before the process of seeking community input under ULURP. Also note that Atlantic Yards notably bypassed ULURP, since it proceeded under a state review process.

The benefits

Steel estimated the new program "will save applicants up to $100 million per year in soft costs and carrying costs," and thus "[m]ore development means more jobs for New Yorkers."

City Planning Director Amanda Burden said. “We have spearheaded zoning initiatives to create affordable housing, green the city, facilitate economic development and transportation options as well as new public open spaces throughout the five boroughs, and BluePRint will enable all these projects to be realized faster, without sacrificing high standards and careful review."

And I'd add that, while it's surely wise to eliminate unwieldy process, this still focuses on facilitating individual projects and the Department of City Planning has focused on zoning, rather than comprehensive planning.


NoLandGrab: What we really need is better, smarter development, not just more development.

Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

Hello, Brooklyn! A Conversation with Nets CEO Brett Yormark

The Sportsfan Journal
by J. Clinkscales

There are few more entertaining works of fiction than a softball interview with Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

TSFJ: Could you speak a bit on the community initiatives the Nets have taken on since arriving in Brooklyn in April?

Yormark: From my perspective, our move to Brooklyn is really all about the community. When we went through our brand transformation about a month and a half ago, that first week was all about the Brooklyn Nets and the community. Supporting wellness, supporting education, community development.

TSFJ: Now on that note, you’re coming into an already established NBA market, even though Brooklynites have known about the Nets for years. Outside of the insiders and media, how have the actual fans received the Nets, in terms of community service, rebranding and the like?

Yormark: I think it’s truly exceeded our expectations. Our fans have had a chance to vote, and they voted “yes” for the Nets, and the rebranding efforts. We sold a lot of season seats, much more than we ever anticipated this far out from the beginning of the (2012-13) season. People are wearing our merchandise; they’re wearing our caps, wearing out t-shirts, and they voted “yes” for the Brooklyn Nets.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to "vote" on the billion-plus dollars in subsidies and tax breaks being lavished on the Atlantic Yards project, or the abuse of eminent domain on which it relies.

Ooh, better grab your hankies...

TSFJ: In terms of community service, what has been the effort you have personally been most proud of, whether it’s been in the first few weeks in Brooklyn or this whole five-year process?

Yormark: During our “Brooklyn Nets in the Community,” we were at a YMCA in Prospect Park. It was a wonderful day for me personally. There were 600 kids there; they were all wearing black and white. It was two days after we launched our brand, and for me, it was a very proud moment. I knew that kids would ultimately vote “yes” for the Brooklyn Nets, and I knew they would take the moment to embrace their own home team. Until you get there and experience it firsthand, you never know, but to have 600 kids cheer on the Nets, work with our executive team that was out there hosting clinics for the day; to me, it was a big-time moment.

Last year, my kids and I fed the hungry in Brooklyn, and we will continue to do that as a family this year. Even on Sept. 28 when we plan to open our building, I’ll be doing outreach.


NoLandGrab: Sniffle. We can't help, however, being reminded of this classic scene from the 1987 film Broadcast News.

Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

Kidd: Nets To Be "Very Competitive"


We're pretty sure they accidentally lifted a headline from 2002.

What does he know that we don't...yet? In an interview with Michael Kay on ESPN New York, Jason Kidd seemed "intrigued" about playing for the Nets in Brooklyn, writes Rod Boone, Newsday's new Nets beat reporter. The reason: he thinks the team can win.

"I think Brooklyn, since the Dodgers left, they have been waiting for a team to come back," Kidd said. "So I think there will be a lot of excitement and I think that team, they are going to put a team out that is going to be very competitive next year." He again said he'd happily back up Deron Williams.

Or Jeremy Lin.


NoLandGrab: If Kidd wants to back up Deron Williams, he really shouldn't sell his place in Dallas.

Posted by eric at 12:04 PM


Retail Traffic

Actually, our own Fifth Avenue used to terminate at the Atlantic Center mall — until Bruce Ratner wiped it off the map.

If Forest City Enterprises decides to go ahead with the redevelopment/remerchandising of its Atlantic Center Mall and Atlantic Terminal Mall properties in Brooklyn it might be able to remake the surrounding area into an outer borough Fifth Avenue, retail industry insiders say.

Retail industry insiders who clearly have never been in Bruce Ratner's malls, that is.

Forest City, the commercial real estate developer behind the soon-to-open Barclays Center arena and entertainment venue, revealed that it’s now reviewing the possibility of upgrading its nearby retail properties. A spokesperson for the company said there are no definite plans as of yet; Forest City executives are “just thinking out loud.”

If the company decides to go ahead with the project, demographics in the surrounding area certainly offer a lot of potential.

“Brooklyn is getting multi-million dollar condos, but there is not a lot of upscale shopping,” [retail consultant Howard] Dadivowitz says. “I would say it’s a void and a possibility. A Whole Foods [makes sense there], a Bloomingdale’s definitely would make sense. Why wouldn’t Tiffany’s build a nice store there? I think they would.”


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner currently bans groups of four or more teens from hanging out in his malls. When Bloomie's and Tiffany move in, that ban will surely be expanded to groups of zero or more teens. Can't have the "tough kids" from "the projects" scaring off the customers!

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Barclays Center bans bottle service at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Or at least they say they do. As with everything else about the Atlantic Yards project, another bait and switch is hardly out of the question.

High-rolling Brooklyn Nets fans will have to get their hard liquor by the glass at Jay-Z’s proposed 40/40 Club in the Barclays Center.

A week after the Chris Brown vs. Drake bottle-throwing melee at SoHo hotspot W.i.P., Barclays Center reps made a point of assuring state liquor officials that there will be no bottle service — except for champagne and wine — at arena director Jay-Z’s latest outpost of his club mini-chain.

During a State Liquor Authority hearing in Manhattan Wednesday night, Ashley Cotton, a spokeswoman for arena developer Forest City Ratner, said that suite holders will, however, be able to buy bottles of hard liquor.

“The 40/40 Club will have no bottle service,” said Cotton, who defined such service as “bottles of hard liquor” like gin and vodka “being sold at inflated prices of up to $600 ... to be purchased and drank all at once in a club setting.”


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Barclays Nixes Bottle Service as Liquor License Application Moves Forward

Community groups continued to voice their deep concerns regarding the prospect of late-night drinking at Barclays Center at a public hearing regarding the arena's liquor license application in Harlem Wednesday night.

At issue for many critics of the plan was proposed alcohol service during the fourth quarter of basketball games, after events and previously undisclosed operations at a 1,800-person capacity Courtside Club, Vault suite area and a brand-new Brooklyn outpost of Jay-Z's 40/40 club.

NY Daily News, Jay-Z's 40/40 Club at Barclays Center, new Nets basketball arena in Brooklyn, won't have liquor bottle service

Neighbors of the arena are still worried about drinking at the venue. At a public hearing Tuesday night, neighbors presented a petition protesting the venue’s plan to sell alcohol until 2 a.m. They asked that alcohol sales be cut off at 10 p.m.

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], State Considers Allowing 2 A.M. Booze Sales inside the Barclays Center

“The [community] boards were not informed about the clubs’ later hours of operation prior to their deliberations,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and a Prospect Heights resident. “The boards [should] take public testimony on new information regarding the arena clubs prior to voting on a revised resolution of support.”

DNAinfo.com, Jay-Z's Barclays Center 40/40 Club Won't Have Bottle Service

Locals' fears multiplied when the news broke that the 40/40 Club would open a location inside the new arena. The upscale restaurant, co-owned by Jay-Z, has a Flatiron District location where high rollers can shell out for bottle service packages such as the $3,000 "Hollywood" package, which includes two bottles of Champagne, two bottles of vodka, one bottle of whiskey or cognac, and one bottle of tequila.

Metro, No bottle service at 40/40 Club at Barclays Center

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

June 21, 2012

At arena liquor license hearing, CBs 2 & 6, despite dismay over post-event service, maintain support for license; CB 8, BrooklynSpeaks call for earlier cutoff; Forest City apologizes for poor communication, says no bottle service at 40/40 Club

Atlantic Yards Report

Extensive coverage of last night's Barclays Center liquor license hearing via Norman Oder.

Barclays Center operators Forest City Ratner dodged something of a bullet last night, as representatives of Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 6 came to a State Liquor Authority hearing in Harlem to say that, however much they're dismayed about the "obfuscation" or "untimely disclosure" of the arena's plans for post-event alcohol service, they're not ready to rescind their support for the liquor license.

Surely contributing to that was a letter sent this week by arena general manager John Sparks that indicated that, despite the request to serve alcohol for an hour after events at three venues (holding up to 1863 people), "we expect there to be little demand" for service in the fourth quarter or after NBA games, as well as little demand at most other events, though there "may be special, post-event functions" after some concerts, "limited to a select group."

Also, he said, most events would end well before midnight, though concerts and boxing could end between 11:30 pm and midnight.

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner External Affairs VP Ashley Cotton apologized for a presentation before CBs 2 and 6 in April by an arena lawyer who said that liquor service would stop before events ended. "We just handled this poorly," she said. She later clarified that there would be no bottle service--marked-up bottles of hard liquor--at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, though it would serve bottles of wine and champagne, and arena suites would be able to maintain bottles of liquor.

Opposition from CB 8, BrooklynSpeaks

Meanwhile, Community Board 8, which does not include the arena site (which is split within CBs 2 and 6) but does encompass the parking lot and residential streets on which arena patrons will walk, weighed in with strong opposition to the plan as presented, saying the SLA should play a role in "managing this risk," with a cut-off time that is early--he suggested 10 pm--and uniform.

"We just feel residents need their sleep more than patrons need an extra drink," said Robert Witherwax, 2nd Vice Chair, who suggested that CB 8 residential streets could bear the largest brunt of arena foot traffic.

Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks noted that 1300 people had signed a petition in support of a 10 pm cut-off, and that the coalition, along with several elected officials, backs a Neighborhood Protection Plan, borrowed in part from the neighborhood experience of Wrigley Field in Chicago, that aims to respect the arena's tight setting.

Given that most events would end well before midnight, Veconi said he didn't see why arena operators want to preserve their capacity to serve alcohol until 2 am, rather than agree to an earlier cutoff.


NoLandGrab: And the award for the evening's best gobbledygook goes to Lori Raphael of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, who testified that permitting alcohol service until the ridiculously late hour of 2 a.m. would "ensure optimal use of a prime asset."

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM


Affordable Housing Institute : US
by David A. Smith

Here's a lengthy yet entertaining look at media coverage of the Atlantic Yards affordable-housing bait and switch.

When it comes to Atlantic Yards’ excruciating development process, the affordable housing has always been a political ornament – a sparkling bauble prominently featured in the submission, proffered as a reason why the applicant should be given concessions today in anticipation of repaying that with goodies tomorrow.

The contrasting tone between the two pieces, Times and Journal, is remarkable. For the Times, everything is sunny:

Almost six months before the Barclays Center opens its doors to the Nets, Brooklyn’s first major professional sports team since the lamented Dodgers —

A classic bit of Pollyanna nostalgia. The Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1955 and the Mets arrived in 1962, but as the Mets play in Queens, not Brooklyn, and call themselves New York, not Brooklyn, why then there is a hole in the city’s psyche that no amount of affordable housing can fill.

— 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.

Shops along the workaday stretch of Flatbush Avenue south of the arena that for generations sold unglamorous products like hardware, paint, plumbing supplies, prescription drugs, even artificial limbs [Things New York Times editors are unlikely to buy? – Ed.], are seeing new businesses pop up that sell high-heel shoes for $3,500 a pair, revealing party dresses, exotic cheeses and, of course, high-priced martinis.

This, the Times would have us believe, is progress.


Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

D-Will Visits Barclays Again


Wednesday night, Amy Williams, Mrs. Deron, posted an image taken of her husband at Barclays Center ... presumably taken earlier Wednesday ... 10 days before he becomes a free agent.

The image showing Williams standing in front of the entrance to Sections 8 and 108 is accompanied by an intriguing caption from Amy: "Funny how this is the ONLY section with numbers up...@dwill8 @deronwilliams coincidence?!? #barclayscenter."


NoLandGrab: Just stopping by to say goodbye.

Photo: Amy Williams via Instagram

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

Nets 2012: What Does the Barclays Center Have to Do with Brooklyn Basketball?

Bleacher Report
by Argun Ulgen

The Barclays Center represents many things, perhaps the least of which is Brooklyn basketball.

The Center is comprised of eight million square feet of office, commercial, and residential property that stretches well beyond the pale of a new sports stadium.

He means Atlantic Yards project, apparently.

The array of political, economic, and environmental issues surrounding the Center is dizzying.

Somewhere in the mix, perhaps a terrific basketball squad playing in a trend-setting basketball arena will make up for the sacrifices involved in the Barclays Center's construction. The strengthening of Brooklyn basketball culture, on its own stead, has a dreamlike quality to it.

But then again, so was a Brooklyn (and America) where small businesses and historic residential property once constituted the culture's epicenter.


Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

Why do we care about Willets Point again?

Cap'n Transit Rides Again

For years I've been reading about various plans to redevelop the Willets Point area, each worse than the last. Each time I wonder why everyone's so convinced that Something Must Be Done. It's not a slum where people live in close quarters and can die of diphtheria or something. On its own terms, it's a successful business district. Why do people care about this forlorn corner of the borough? And why the urgency?

So why is Willets Point so urgent? It's not like it's the only industrial area in the city with crappy streets. After thinking and thinking, I believe I've finally figured it out: you can see it from Citifield. It's even closer and more visible than it was from Shea Stadium. It's right across the street, staring you in the face: junkyards! unpaved streets! grimy brown people in work clothes!

I'm guessing that someone has a box seat in Citifield with a grand view of the junkyards behind the field, and the Wilpons look out at the thing every day. They got ahold of the politicians and the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and there you go.


Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

June 20, 2012

State Liquor Authority Hearing on the Barclays Center Liquor License Application, Wednesday, June 20

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

This Wednesday, June 20th, at 7 p.m., the New York State Liquor Authority will be holding the second of two public hearings on the application by Brooklyn Events Center LLC and Levy Premium Foodservice for the liquor license for the Barclays Center. While the hearing is taking place in Harlem, if you live anywhere near the arena site, you might want to consider making the trip.

As with just about every other aspect of the Atlantic Yards project, the liquor license application is yet another bait and switch. From our friends at BrooklynSpeaks:

Barclays Center has applied for a license that would allow it to keep serving alcohol into the early hours of the morning. At a public meeting in April, arena representatives described an intent to serve patrons in accordance with NBA rules that require liquor sales to end after the third quarter. But after Barclays Center received conditional support from Community Boards 2 and 6, it was revealed that the arena plans to keep open clubs with a capacity of 1,800 up to an hour after events have ended—as late as 2:00 AM. And the recent announcement of one of Jay-Z's 40/40 Clubs being located in the arena raises the possibility of bottle service for hundreds of late-night customers.

Tomorrow night, we need your help to let the New York State Liquor Authority know Barclays Center's plans to sell liquor won't work for Brooklyn.

Here are the details on the hearing:

SLA hearing on Barclays Center Liquor License Application
Wednesday, June 20th, 7:00 p.m.
New York State Liquor Authority
317 Lenox Avenue
Manhattan [Map]
Take the #2 or #3 subway to 125th Street

From Bergen Street and 6th Avenue, the subway trip is barely more than 30 minutes, and the SLA headquarters is a stone's throw from the 125th Street station.


Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

Judge says lawsuit filed over "sham" training program can proceed, with key claims remaining against Forest City and BUILD; other claims dismissed

Atlantic Yards Report

In a preliminary victory in the case filed by by seven (of 36) participants in a pre-apprenticeship training program (PATP) promised as part of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), a federal judge this week agreed not to dismiss potentially costly claims that Forest City Ratner is responsible for failure to pay unpaid wages to the trainees for their entire training program, which plaintiffs' attorneys call a "sham."

Federal Judge John Gleeson did dismiss several aspects of the case filed against Forest City, executives Bruce Ratner and Jane Marshall, BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), and BUILD CEO James Caldwell, but he rejected a motion to dismiss key claims, including the most contested claim during a court argument last month: whether Forest City and BUILD constituted "joint employers."

The argument concerned the plaintiffs' claim that, by signing the CBA, which promised the PATP, and funding and directing BUILD, that Forest City Ratner was responsible for the program. One plaintiff, recounting how he was promised a union card and a union job, said "I was robbed," when the case was announced last November.

An attorney for Forest City, BUILD, and their individual officers argued that the facts don't support "the economic reality test" as established in case law. But attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that this case was unusual, and Gleeson agreed, in his 19-page decision (below):

However, I cannot conclude at the pleadings stage that it was unreasonable, as a matter of law, for the Plaintiffs to rely on promises of union membership and jobs made to a small number of PATP participants by a major real estate enterprise that would employ tens of thousands of union workers.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.

The legal process of discovery had already begun, and will continue, as plaintiffs' attorneys, who include Matthew Brinckerhoff, the chief lawyer on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, probe the relationship between Forest City and BUILD.

Plaintiffs' attorney Nicole Salk, who said Gleeson "really understood the main arguments," estimated that it would take at least six months before the next phase, which could be a motion for summary judgment, or a trial. Settlements in such cases are possible as well, though the plaintiffs this week just got more leverage.


NoLandGrab: Let's cut to the chase. The relationship between Forest CIty Ratner and BUILD is as follows: Forest City Ratner = BUILD, and BUILD = Forest City Ratner.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Federal Lawsuit Against Bruce Ratner and His Partnter B.U.I.L.D Will Move Forward

Time for Bruce Ratner to book another big act for his (and Mikhail Prokhorov's) arena, lest the press start paying attention to this federal lawsuit he is on the wrong end of....

NLG: Is Bad Company touring? That'd be fitting.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Brooklyn Nets a Mega Mall: Forest City Mulls What’s Next for Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

It could be the biggest thing to come to Atlantic Yards since Barbara Streisand and Justin Beiber announced they would be playing concerts at the Barclays Center this fall. While everyone (but the neighbors and former neighbors) is looking forward to the opening of the new arena, Forest City Ratner now has its eyes trained across the street, to the two malls it owns there.

Once work on the arena is complete, the difficult task of moving forward with the adjoining apartment buildings lies ahead. But as interest in the area’s retail has boomed in anticipation of the new 18,000-seat venue, Forest City Ratner has also accelerated plans to redevelop the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls.

“It’s an obvious opportunity,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, Forest City’s executive vice president, told The Observer. “One of the many things we think about is the impact the arena will have, and how we can help create a holistic neighborhood at Atlantic Yards from there.”

The impact the arena will have is pretty much the only thing nearby residents are thinking about.

One piece in the possible architectural transformation of the two malls is more than a million square feet of development rights Forest City still holds on the property. Together, the two malls equal a little less than 800,000 square feet, meaning an expansion could more than double the space.

This does not necessarily have to be retail development, as the Atlantic Terminal building already has an office tower on top, known as 2 Hanson Place. As Norman Oder pointed out back in 2006, preliminary designs for the Atlantic Yards project revealed three towers atop the mall, tucked away in the background and unmentioned in discussions of the project.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Whodathunk It! Ratner's Arena Benefits Ratner's Malls!

In case there was still any lingering doubt about who benefits from Atlantic Yards—the developer Forest City Ratner or the loser, the public—this article should end all of those doubts. (Perhaps the judicial system that thought eminent domain for the project was legitimate because the public was the intentioned beneficiary of the Atlantic Yards project might now agree that that was just a load of, we'll be polite here, hogwash)....

Atlantic Yards Report, Forest City Ratner's ambitious plans for its Atlantic Terminal and (blighted) Atlantic Center malls; new towers not yet on the table, but new retail surely in sight

In Brooklyn Nets a Mega Mall: Forest City Mulls What’s Next for Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center, the Observer's Matt Chaban writes:

While everyone (but the neighbors and former neighbors) is looking forward to the opening of the new arena, Forest City Ratner now has its eyes trained across the street, to the two malls it owns there.

Everyone? Really?

But it surely is worth pointing out, to use Michael D.D. White's "mega-monopoly" term, that Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project was sure to rain benefits on the developer's adjacent malls, and that should have reflected in the public negotiations.

Brownstoner, Atlantic Mall Might Get Re-skinned and Repositioned

While discussing the balancing act of broadening the mall’s demographic appeal without alienating its core constituency, Ms. Gilmartin said that “everything [short of razing the building] is on the table,” including making over the dreary, uninviting brick facade.

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Foes of Jay Z's Barclays Center Link Up With OWS for Opening Day Protest


"Jay-Z's Barclays Center?" Huh?

Occupy the Barclays Center could be in the works.

The new arena doesn't open its doors for more than three months, but its critics are already busy prepping for an opening day protest — and they've invited members of the Occupy movement to join them in planning the demonstration.

"They can mobilize a lot of people very quickly, and if there's a project that typifies the One Percent, it's Atlantic Yards," said Jo Anne Simon, a founding member of Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of local groups opposed to the Barclays Center and the surrounding Atlantic Yards development.

Brooklyn Speaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, and other Atlantic Yards activists will meet Tuesday night to plan a rally for Sept. 28, when Jay-Z will break in the new 18,000-seat arena with a concert.


Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Opponents Plan Best Way To Protest The Barclays Center

Despite the fact that meeting organizers expressly stated that the meeting was off the record and asked press not to report on it, The Local couldn't let that stand in the way of service to the community:

The Local attended due to the importance of the matter and the public interest in knowing what was said.

NoLandGrab: Mightn't The Local do the public interest a greater service by going undercover at Forest City Ratner or the Empire State Development Corporation? The meeting was open to anyone who wanted to attend, but it would've been nice if they'd respected the ground rules.

Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

Cops: Bullies threaten teen on DeKalb

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

In Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls, if the crooks don't get you, the employees might.


An employee at a Flatbush Avenue candy store bashed a co-worker with a cooking pan during an argument on June 17.

A 22-year-old employee at the TCBY yogurt store in the Atlantic Center Mall told cops she was in a tiff with a co-worker at 11 am when the pan-handler struck her.

Bested by

A cunning thief stole nearly $2,000 worth of electronics from a store in the Atlantic Terminal Mall through an elaborate ruse on June 12, police reported.

Representatives from the Best Buy on Atlantic Avenue told cops that a man opened up a credit card account with, what turned out to be, a fake North Carolina driver’s license on June 5, purchasing $1,980 worth of goods between then and June 12.

Police arrested the suspect when he returned to the store on June 12.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Harlem Globetrotters Coming to Barclays Center This Fall

Team to perform in Brooklyn for first time in October.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

First it was Streisand, then Bieber, now it’s been announced that the Harlem Globetrotters will be performing their first major show in Brooklyn.

The goofball basketball performers will play at the Barclays Center on Oct. 7, just nine days after it opens.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said he was happy to bring the Globetrotters’ “crowd-pleasing brand of basketball” to Brooklyn for the first time.


NoLandGrab: Which is likely to be the only "crowd-pleasing brand of basketball" played at the Barclays Center all year.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Comment period on Transportation Demand Management plan extended to July 3, from June 22

Atlantic Yards Report

For those aiming to get comments on the Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan in by the previously announced June 22 deadline, there's some breathing room.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, explained that the comment period was being extended to July 3 to accommodate comments raised at an upcoming June 26 meeting on arena operations. The latter was itself pushed back because of the State Liquor Authority hearing tomorrow.

"We expect folks who attend on the 26th will want to have some time to submit comments on the information presented at that meeting since it relates to TDM," Hankin said.

A notice about the extension is being sent out today. Comments can be sent until midnight July 3 to AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov.


Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

“Urbanology” film series explores the design of cities

OKCMOA Newsroom

Attention loyal NoLandGrab readers in Oklahoma City: here's the perfect way to kick off your weekend.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute of Oklahoma, presents five new films that explore the effects of urbanization on modern life. The film series runs June 21-24, 2012, and will conclude with a panel discussion about Oklahoma City’s urban development. All screenings will take place in the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Noble Theater.

Battle for Brooklyn provides an intimate look at the very public and passionate fight waged by the residents and business owners of Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Heights neighborhood, who are facing condemnation of their property to make way for the polarizing Atlantic Yards project, a massive plan to build 16 skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets. Battle for Brooklyn screens Friday, June 22 at 8pm followed by a Skype Q&A with director Michael Galinsky.


Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

June 19, 2012

Federal Court: Lawsuit against Forest City Ratner and BUILD to Move Forward

Press Release via South Brooklyn Legal Services

Bruce Ratner suddenly finds himself on a prolonged courtroom losing streak.

A federal judge in Brooklyn has decided that a group of Brooklyn residents may move forward on their lawsuit against Forest City Ratner and related entities based on unpaid wages and broken promises. In a 19-page decision, Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York held that the plaintiffs, participants in a sham job training program created by the Atlantic Yards developers and Brooklyn United for Innovative Development (BUILD), may proceed on their central claims against the defendants.

The decision affirms that the plaintiffs properly stated claims for unpaid wages under federal and state labor laws against all the defendants, who plaintiffs allege jointly operated the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program (PATP). Judge Gleeson determined that although the trainees were not employees in the ordinary sense, they may still be entitled to be paid for their work. The judge held that all the defendants, including Bruce Ratner, may be liable for unpaid wages.

The court also found that the defendants may have engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the New York General Business Law. The court based this determination on the allegations that the defendants recruited a large number of potential trainees with misleading promises of union membership and jobs. According to the decision, this constitutes a “sufficient public impact” to show a broad effect on consumers at large.

While some claims were dismissed as to certain defendants, the judge affirmed all the key aspects of the legal basis for the plaintiffs’ lawsuit. The defendants argued that the developers could not be held to promises to deliver union jobs. However, Judge Gleeson stated: “I cannot conclude . . . that it was unreasonable, as a matter of law, for the Plaintiffs to rely on promises of union membership and jobs made to a small number of PATP participants by a major real estate enterprise that would employ tens of thousands of union workers.”

For more information, please contact South Brooklyn Legal Services’ Nicole Salk at 718-237-5544 or Sarah Dranoff at 718-237-5578.

Posted by eric at 4:41 PM

Hey, Hey, My, My: Neil Young to Rock the Barclays Center

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

Say it ain't so, Neil Young.

Yes, Barbra Streisand and Justin Bieber were big, but the Barclays Center has just announced that seminal rock gods Neil Young and Crazy Horse will perform at the arena on Dec. 3. Minutes later, stadium operators also announced that the Harlem Globetrotters would “play” their first “game” in Brooklyn on Oct. 7.


NoLandGrab: Ain't singin' for Pepsi; ain't singin' for Coke — but are singin' for Bruce?

Posted by eric at 1:42 PM

A question for the SLA hearing on the Barclays Center alcohol service plan: how many other arenas serve VIP customers after the announced third-quarter cutoff, and does the NBA have an unannounced exception to its rules?

Atlantic Yards Report

As the second day of a two-part hearing on the Barclays Center liquor license approaches tomorrow (7 pm, State Liquor Authority offices in Harlem), several questions remain, notably one regarding whether the arena plans to follow NBA policy, and whether that policy includes a previously unacknowledged exemption.

According to arena operators, they plan to offer alcohol service to up to 1,800 VIPs for an hour after NBA games, as well as an hour after all events.

They say that's in compliance with the NBA, and have said they plan to follow NBA guidelines.

That remains in question, since the NBA for more than seven years has had a cut-off after the third quarter, with no announced exception for high-rollers. In April, a lawyer for the arena said publicly that alcohol service would end after the third quarter, with no mention of exceptions.

No one will confirm for me whether that NBA policy includes such an exception, nor which other NBA arenas, if any, offer such an exception.

At the hearing tomorrow, the administrative law judge should be told to pose these very specific questions directly to the applicants for the liquor license:

  • For NBA games, do most/all other arenas, like Madison Square Garden, cut off alcohol service arenawide after third quarter?
  • How many are they like the Barclays Center plan, allowing alcohol consumption for those in VIP sections, for an hour after games? If so, which ones?
  • Does Barclays Center need a waiver from NBA guidelines? Or are those not binding? Or do they not apply to VIP seats?

(Other issues likely to come up regard Community Board 8's expected request for an earlier cutoff time than the announced 2 am, as well as concern about whether Jay-Z's 40/40 Club will offer bottle service.)


Posted by eric at 1:35 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: Vanderbilt Yard work steps up; stormwater detention system at parking lot said to have begun

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 6/18/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner. Notable is increased work in the Vanderbilt Yard and associated Carlton Avenue Bridge, aimed to get the bridge reconstructed before the arena opens September 28.

Also note delays in Atlantic Avenue median work, progress in Flatbush Avenue sidewalk work, and the installation of bollards and tree pits along Atlantic Avenue.

Note that the alert indicates that, at the planned surface parking lot on the southeast block, "[i]nstallation of the stormwater detention system began and will continue during this reporting period," a process short-circuited by a stop-work order issued June 15, as reported by Atlantic Yards Watch.


Posted by eric at 1:30 PM

Jail for Ex-Westchester Legislator in Tax Case

The New York Times
by Nate Schweber

Yet another sleazeball who has done the bidding of Forest City Ratner is headed to the big house. Say hello to Lipsky and Kruger for us, Nicky.

Nicholas A. Spano, who spent nearly three decades representing Westchester County as a state senator and assemblyman, was sentenced on Monday to a year and a day in jail for tax evasion.

“This is an ending to a difficult period of my life and the beginning of the next phase,” said Mr. Spano, 59, flanked by close to a dozen members of his family, one of the most politically powerful in the county.

Judge Cathy Seibel of Federal District Court also fined Mr. Spano, a Republican who left office in 2006, $30,000 and ordered him to spend a year on supervised release. Mr. Spano is scheduled to begin his sentence on July 9 and may be eligible for release from jail after about 10 months. Judge Seibel said she hoped the sentence would send a deterrent message.

“The public is sick and tired of the powerful and fortunate not paying their fair share in taxes,” she said. “And it also seems that the public is tired of politicians treating election to Albany not as an opportunity to serve the people, but an opportunity to line their pockets.”


NoLandGrab: The public is also sick and tired of Teflon Bruce's henchmen taking the fall, while the kingpin remains untouched.

Posted by eric at 1:22 PM

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson's curious EB-5 gig: helping market green cards to immigrant investors from China

Atlantic Yards Report

I have an article in City and State headlined THE “VOLUNTEER” V.P.: John Sampson’s unusual new gig marketing green cards to Chinese nationals.

It's not about Atlantic Yards, but there is a skein of connection. I wouldn't be following the (generally) little-scrutinized EB-5 industry if I hadn't gotten a tip in the summer of 2010 that it would be used for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

Since then, despite ample reasons for closer scrutiny, the EB-5 business has been booming.

In this case, Sampson, the Senate Minority Leader, quietly--as in no announcements/press releases in English--began participating as the (seeming) Chief Executive Vice President of the New York City Real Estate Regional Center (NYCRERC).

Sampson's role? To help market green cards to would be immigrant investors from China, under the federal government's EB-5 program.


NoLandGrab: What the hell's a "Chief Executive Vice President?" Either you're the chief executive, or you're a vice president. Not both.

Posted by eric at 1:14 PM

Barclays bar fray: Neighbors angry about Jay-Z bar’s late last call

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

Rap mogul Jay-Z will open a sprawling, high-end sports bar inside the Barclays Center — but neighbors have 99 problems with a plan to serve booze until 2 am at the posh lounge.

The Brooklyn-born superstar plans to launch a Kings County version of his popular Manhattan venue the 40/40 Club inside the new Nets arena, complete with a 350-seat restaurant and a space for events.

“There is no better home for [it],” Jay-Z said last week.

But frustrated neighbors claim Barclays Center operators evaded mandatory public review by applying for a single liquor license for the entire arena — and only revealing their plan to allow “luxury” vendors such as the 40/40 Club to sell booze until 2 am after gaining the endorsement of Community Board 6.


NoLandGrab: Yes, the 40/40 Club is so popular that Jay emailed us a 60%-off coupon this very morning.

Posted by eric at 1:01 PM

Are Islanders Brooklyn Bound or is Quebec Calling?

Get Real Hockey
by Josh Marks

Yes, that's definitely Quebec on the line.

How passionate are Nordiques fans to get a team back? Well, they certainly have their sights set on the Islanders. In fact, in December 2010 an estimated 1,100 Nordiques fans arrived in a bus caravan from Quebec City to invade Nassau Coliseum and voice their support for the Isles moving north.

With fans willing to travel 550 miles from Quebec City to Uniondale, NY, the people want the NHL back. And the arena is coming too. In fact, what perfect timing, the New Quebec City Amphitheatre, also called Quebecor Arena, is due to open in 2015, the same year the lease expires at Nassau. And it will seat 18,000, which is more than the Barclays Center, which will only be able to seat 14,500 for hockey, making it the smallest arena in the NHL.


Posted by eric at 12:56 PM

Brooklyn's 4th Avenue Corridor Architecture Slammed in Wall St Journal: Hope for "Brooklyn Boulevard?"

About.com Brooklyn
by Ellen Freudenheim

And, tomorrow June 19th, Develop Don't Destroy, the community-based organization that seeks to have some influence over what remains of future planning around the controversial Atlantic Yards, will be holding a "kickoff" meeting to organize a protest demonstration at the Barclays Center opening, saying "Atlantic Yards promised jobs, housing and hoops. All we're getting is hoops, parking lots, a demolition zone, an imminent traffic/parking fiasco, rats , and the Borough's biggest bar."


That meeting takes place tonight, at 7p.m.
at Brown Memorial Baptist Church
484 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn

More info.

Posted by eric at 12:44 PM

Diary of an Angry (ex)Nets Fan: My Final Words

Tales from the Dokes Side

I've seen great Net's teams, horrible ones, Hall of Famers, has beens, and never was's. But what continues to frustrate me is the outright lie the that predicated the move. It was obvious to just about everyone that it was a land grab from then majority owner Bruce Ratner to get his Atlantic Yards project built. For 7 years I've watched his dream ruin my hopes as fan as he dismantled what to took 25 years and 3 owners to build.

Proponents say that move is great for the franchise, that they'll make make more money, have a bigger market, and a wider audience, blah, blah, blah, but that's just lip service. The the grim reality is that the Nets are one of the most mismanaged teams in all of the NBA.


Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

June 18, 2012

DOB orders stop work on Barclays Center parking lot

Atlantic Yards Watch

The Department of Buildings has issued a stop work order for construction on block 1129. The stop work order is dated June 15th and describes the violations as "various." The address cited is 583 Dean Street, which is the address under which FCRC has submitted the plans for the surface parking lot on block 1129. The order states the work on the "full site" is to be stopped "except to make site safe."

Community members have complained about the work on the block 1129 for multiple reasons, most seriously recently for vibrations on buildings in the historic district along Carlton Avenue. Several incident reports from that area have been filed on this website about vibrations over the last several weeks, including a ceiling collapse.

The work on the lot for the last month has appeared to exceed the scope and impact of the approved work.


Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

American Society of Landscape Architects calls for sustainable design for Barclays surface parking lot

Atlantic Yards Watch

The New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA), an organization of landscape architects in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, has submitted a letter to ESDC CEO Kenneth Adams about the plans for the surface parking lot for Barclays Center patrons on block 1129. NYSLA expresses "dissatisfaction" with the proposed plans, and calls for a more sustainable plan that benefits NYC "through vegetation, shade, a minimized carbon footprint, stormwater management and pervious parking surface materials." The heart of their recommendations is that the lot meet NYC DCP standards, and that it be constructed using green technology.

The group writes that it finds the proposed design "troubling, potentially dangerous to long-term public health, averse to maintaining environmental quality and inconsistent with NYC’s intent to strengthen the economy, combat climate change and enhance quality of life through thoughtful and environmentally beneficial design."


Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Noise from nighttime "cutover" of LIRR operations causes consternation for nearby residents

Atlantic Yards Watch

24-hour work to move LIRR operations from the southern to the northern half of Vanderbilt Railyards (referred to as the "cutover" in ESDC's Atlantic Yards construction alerts) is causing consternation among residents. AYW has received several complaints about jackhammers, saws, and the persistent beeping of reversing construction vehicles. One resident describes "jackhammering, tons of noise."

The video [below] is a of a worker using a saw on LIRR's tracks at 2 AM. The filer of the incident report that includes the video has a decibel meter and reports a 120 db level. No steps to attenuate the noise are visible in the video.

The use of noisy equipment like saws and jackhammers is not specified in the most recent construction alert. The alert warns the community about the intermittent use of the LIRR railyard's lights all night, and that from 3:30 PM to 1:00 PM "loud banging noises by dump trucks will occur as they empty their loads of stone in the east yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues." But it does not describe jackhammering or the use of saws, and the noisy work described ends at 1:00 AM, not the later hours that the incident reports from nearby residents describe.


NoLandGrab: In case you can't make out the audio, the lovely fellow operating the saw at 2 o'clock in the morning says he doesn't "give a f**k" about the noise he's making.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch: Construction Alerts did not warn of loud overnight noises

Atlantic Yards Watch follows up on the video posted yesterday about very loud noise at 2 am at the Vanderbilt Yard.

Indeed, see p. 7 of the Construction Alert, which describes the cutover as taking place over the course of two weekends in the middle of June, with the bulk of the work on one weekend.

Why the rush? They're trying to finish the Carlton Avenue Bridge before the arena opens on September 28, and the cutover is more than two weeks behind originally announced plans.

NorthJersey.com, NY: The city that never sleeps, Brooklyn edition

The Nets are a little over three months away from the grand opening of their $1 billion Barclays Center arena near downtown Brooklyn.

And it appears that they are working overtime – deep overtime – to get things finished on time.

Meanwhile, residents who live near the arena also are concerned about possible post-game drinking in the high-end clubs within the arena walls.

A Jay-Z “40-40 Club” is to be located on the suite level. A handy screenshot from the nightclub website shows that you can pay the same price for Belvedere or Grey Goose Vodka from other 40-40 clubs – $300 per bottle. The Remy Martin Louis XIII is going to cost you, though: $2,500 per bottle.

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

Landscape architects' organization says Atlantic Yards parking lot ignores sustainability; calls for increased greenery, better use of stormwater, programming when space is unused

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner's plan to not meet Department of City Planning standards for the surface parking lot associated with the Barclays Center--thanks, according to the developer, to a state override of zoning*--has generated extensive criticism, not only from Atlantic Yards Watch, but more recently from a leading professional organization, which warns of "higher-than-average temperatures in the neighborhood as a result of the heat island effect."

In a letter sent 6/12/12 to Kenneth Adams, President/CEO, Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency overseeing the project, the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA) commented that the parking should be more sustainable, adding "vegetation, shade, a minimized carbon footprint, stormwater management and pervious parking surface materials."

"Such an approach is more respectful of the quality of life of adjacent residents and businesses," wrote NYASLA President Denisha Williams and Past-President, Policy Committee Tricia Martin.

*The letter notes that the exemption from city guidelines is because of the lot's status as a temporary lot--but it could last for more than a decade.


NoLandGrab: The next time Forest City Ratner is "respectful of the quality of life of adjacent residents and businesses" will be the first time Forest City Ratner is respectful of the quality of life of adjacent residents and businesses.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

550G-a-year fan ‘caves’

No-view suites at Nets arena

NY Post
by Gary Buiso

Not being able to see the woeful Nets stumbling around the court may actually be a selling point.

They might be the most expensive rooms — without a view — in the city.

At $550,000 per year, suites in The Vault at the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center arena offer exclusivity, high-end finishes and unmatched privacy — but no windows.

They’re for luxury tailgating.

“This is not for everyone,” Nets CEO Brett Yormark told The Post during an exclusive first look at The Vault’s 11 catacombs still under construction. “This is for a particular customer who wants to entertain at the highest level.

Five of the suites have already been snapped up, Yormark told The Post.

Rap mogul Jay-Z, who is a Nets part owner and director of the arena, designed the suites and bought the first one — a glass-enclosed hive that stands to the right of imposing 15-foot-tall wooden doors to be emblazoned with a massive “V.”

“It’s like your backstage,” Yormark said. “It’s the kind of environment where you are interacting potentially with celebrities.”


NoLandGrab: $1.65 million over three years for "interacting potentially with celebrities!" Where do we sign up?

Related coverage...

NetsDaily, "The Vault" Is a Site Unseen

"This is not for everyone," Nets CEO Brett Yormark told The Post in more than a bit of understatement.

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

Nets announce Barclays Center restaurant will be a Jay-Z 40/40 Club. Is bottle service on the menu?

Atlantic Yards Watch

The Brooklyn 40/40 club appears to follow the model of Jay-Z's other locations in Manhattan and Atlantic City. Those locations are open until 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM, respectively. At the Manhattan club, the schedule lists events that begin after 10:00 PM most nights of the week. If the Brooklyn location is covered by the liquor license currently under review by the State Liquor Authority, the Brooklyn location would presumably close at 2:00 AM based on a recent letter from Barclays Center's attorney to CB6.

40/40 Clubs in Atlantic City and Manhattan prominently feature bottle service. In recent months, proposals for new restaurants Prime 6 and Kemistry Lounge offering bottle service have found stiff resistance from local neighbors. At its May 2 general meeting, Community Board 6 denied Kemistry's application for a full liquor license. At the same meeting, CB6 granted conditional approval to the Barclays Center application based on representations made by Barclays Center management at an April public meeting that liquor service would end before the fourth quarter of NBA events. Since that time, it has been revealed that the Barclays Center would also operate clubs that will continue to serve alcohol up to one hour after events, as late as 2:00 AM. The 40/40 announcement comes less than a week before the second of two hearings in front of the State Liquor Authority regarding Barclays Center's license.


Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

Bottle Service At Barclays Center Might Cost It A Liquor License

by Rebecca Fishbein

Looks like the Barclays Center's hitting some snags when it comes to getting sauced: this week, Community Board 8 agreed to ask the State Liquor Authority to put a hold on the arena's liquor license. The decision was announced Thursday at a CB8 general meeting in Prospect Heights, and came on the heels of the recent revelation that Jay-Z would be opening a 40/40 club outpost at the arena, which, like its high-end Chelsea counterpart, would include (gasp!) bottle service.

The SLA will hold its second out of two public hearings on June 20, whereupon it will decide on the Barclays Center's boozy fate.


Related coverage...

mcbrooklyn, More Than 9,300 Apply for 1,900 Part Time Jobs at Barclays

Many of the jobs are likely at the Barclays' many bars, nightclubs and restaurants which will spill thousands of drunken, brawling patrons out into the surrounding residential streets at 2 a.m.

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM


A/N Blog
by Tom Stoelker

Mayor Bloomberg evoked Fitzgerald today when he announced the deal between Sterling Equities and Related Companies to revamp Willets Point. “Today the ‘valley of ashes’ is well on its way to becoming the site of historic private investment,” the mayor said in a statement, referring to the gritty midpoint between Gatsby’s West Egg manse and Manhattan. The plan pegs its success to a mega entertainment/retail hub just west of the stadium, that sounds very much a part of a trend in projects that used to be called malls, but are now called retail/entertainment attractions.

More like distractions.

That the housing comes so late in the game has got more than few politians up up in arms. The Daily News reported early this week that City Coucilmember Karen Koslowitz was not pleased. It’s a pretty sensitive topic that was initially raises in The Wall Street Journal last month, which cited Willets Point and Atlantic Yards as examples of where housing was used to win favor with the locals but ends up being the last component of the project scheduled for completion.


Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

A New York Year

Metropolis Magazine
by Colin Fanning

Forest City Ratner wins an award — and for once it doesn't involve something like being a Super-Villain.

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) annually presents its MASterworks Awards to recognize outstanding works of architecture or urban design completed in the prior year. The jury for the 2012 awards is a notable list in its own right: it included architects Brandon Haw of Foster + Partners, Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, and Adam Yarinsky from the Architecture Research Office; journalist Suzanne Stephens from Architectural Record; and the president of MAS, Vin Cipolla. This refreshingly diverse list of winners—a carousel pavilion by Jean Nouvel shares honors with a children’s library in Queens—looks back at an exciting post-recession year for architecture in New York.

Best New Building: New York by Gehry, Gehry & Partners

The highest honor went to Gehry’s shimmering new residential tower at 8 Spruce Street in downtown Manhattan. The jury calls it “a striking symbol of Lower Manhattan’s resurgence,” and its undulating silver façade, standing out among its mid-rise neighbors, certainly makes a dramatic addition to the skyline.


NoLandGrab: MAS, as our long-time readers know, mustered some Milquetoasty opposition to Atlantic Yards, co-founding BrooklynSpeaks — but dropped out once BrooklynSpeaks filed a lawsuit.

Photo: Forest City Ratner

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

"What's Brooklyn about?" The Flea, in a way, as it feeds "this bottomless, infinite need for stories about Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a fascinating interview in NonaBrooklyn with Brooklyn Flea co-founder Eric Demby, a former communications director for Borough President Marty Markowitz who joined forces with Jonathan Butler, founder of Brownstoner.

A few excerpts... and comments.

A bottomless, infinite need for certain kinds of stories about Brooklyn. Not necessarily ones that dig into the power structure or follow boring process-y things like environmental review and blight.


Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

June 17, 2012

Under the radar: EB-5 heavy-hitters appear at conference in Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards Report

From the EB-5 News blog, Brooklyn real estate conference explores EB-5 program: Photo via EB-5 News Blog

The 3rd Annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit hosted by TERRACRG was held at St. Francis College in downtown Brooklyn, New York June 14, 2012. [Blog operator] Mr. Brian Su was invited to join the "Foreign Investors: attracting foreign investment capital to Brooklyn projects" panel discussion. The discussion panelists include Mr. George Olsen (Managing Principal) of New York City Regional Center, Ms. Julia Yong-Hee Park (Principal Attorney) of Law Offices of Julia Park, Mr. Brian Su (CEO) of Artisan Business Group, Inc., and Mr. Paul Travis (Managing Partner) of Washington Square Partners. The forum was moderated by Mr. Steven Polivy (Chairman - Economic Development & Incentives Practice) of Akerman Senterfitt. The New York City Regional Center has attracted over $800 million EB-5 funds to development projects in Brooklyn and New York city areas. Chinese and Asian investors have always shown interests in EB-5 project in New York city. For more information about EB-5 regional center investment program, please contact us today.

Note the presence of George Olsen of the New York City Regional Center, who otherwise has been unavailable to the press. Remember that coverage last December in the New York Times of gerrymandering so-called Targeted Employment Areas to ensure they had high-unemployment rates:

The consultants arranging the EB-5 financing for the Battery Maritime and Atlantic Yards projects declined to comment.

If the NYCRC has raised more than $800 million in EB-5 funds, that's an enormous number, because little more than a quarter of it is for Atlantic Yards. The entity claims 800 approval letters for investors, which means $400 million from them.


Posted by steve at 8:40 AM

June 16, 2012

At 2 am, residents on Pacific Street face loud noise from railyard work

Atlantic Yards Report

So you're trying to sleep on Pacific Street opposite the Vanderbilt Yard, between Sixth and Carlton Avenues. You've got the windows closed because work on the railyard generates dust. The noise wakes you up, at 2 am. You open the window to get a better view of the work and shoot this videotape:


Posted by steve at 2:38 PM

Bottle service now on Quinn's radar after brawl in SoHo club; issue likely to be raised at SLA hearing June 20

Atlantic Yards Report

Concern over the belated announcement of Jay-Z's 40/40 Club in the Barclays Center, apparently bringing previously undisclosed bottle service, surely must have been heightened by a high-profile melee at a bottle service club in SoHo this week.

The impact of the brawl and the bottle service announcement is unclear, but surely the issue will be raised before the State Liquor Authority at a hearing June 20 on the arena liquor license.

The brawl

DNA Info reported yesterday, in Bottle Service May Be on the Rocks After Chris Brown/Drake Brawl:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Friday called for an emergency meeting with NYPD brass and the nightlife industry in the aftermath of a brawl in a SoHo club between Chris Brown and Drake over Rihanna.
Quinn, a mayoral hopeful whose district includes scores of nightclubs in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, said she wanted to prevent the type of violence that broke out at WIP early Thursday, which left five people injured.
"The purpose of this meeting is to send a clear message to all nightclub patrons that bottles cannot be used as weapons and to determine if the guidelines surrounding bottle service need to be updated or reworked," Quinn said in a statement.

Apparently the New York Police Department and the Nightlife Association were will meet next week.

Quinn action?

The New York Post, in a typically understated article headlined ‘Nanny’ Quinn eyes ban on bottle service in ‘fightclubs’, reported:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn took a page out of Mayor Bloomberg’s buzzkill playbook yesterday, announcing a plan to crack down on nightclub bottle service to prevent them from being used as weapons.
...Quinn has no specific plan to baby-proof nightlife in New York — such as replacing $2,000 bottles of Champagne with sippy cups.
...Remi Laba of Bagatalle in the Meatpacking District added: “To say bottle service is the reason for fighting makes no sense for several reasons. Are we saying that dive bars, pubs and places that don’t have bottle service don’t have fights?”

No one should go overboard with expectations of action from Quinn. As the New York Times reported yesterday in a completely unsurprising front-page article headlined Mayoral Hopes Seen as Muting Quinn's Voice, she's found it easy to talk about noncontroversial (in New York) issues like gay marriage but clams up when it comes to the real donnybrook issue, land use:

But she has remained silent on the biggest development issue unfolding in her own backyard, one favored by her big-money donors and real estate interests and hotly opposed by the neighborhood activists who helped propel her to prominence.

And, of course, Quinn hasn't even permitted the City Council to hold an oversight hearing regarding Atlantic Yards.


Posted by steve at 2:33 PM

Columnist Zirin: the story behind Oklahoma City's popular basketball team

Atlantic Yards Report

Dave Zirin, writing Red State Hoops: The Oklahoma City Thunder and the value of Seattle's rage for The Nation, reminds us that the popular basketball team has an ugly back story, based on moving it from Seattle and leveraging public support.

Seattle, he predicts, will again get pro hoops:

But on what terms will the Sonics come back? The people of Seattle took a principled stand against being ripped off by the NBA, and handing billionaires a $300 million bounty of corporate welfare. All of that courage, drama, and pain will have been for nothing if they just accept the terms that David Stern will attempt to impose. There is much you can do especially when the NBA demands a new arena as a precondition for pro ball to return. You can demand private funding for the new facility like they did in Philadelphia. Or you can demand a dollar of public ownership for every tax dollar that goes into the team. You can point to Green Bay and say, “If the Packers have fan ownership, then why can’t we?” It’s not just about having the Sonics return but how they return. Until that day, we should all hope to see the Thunder fall flat. Let every owner itching to move their team to greener pastures, see that it’s not all parades and glory. If [Thunder owners] Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon don't believe in climate change, let them believe in karma.

Just think: what if the city and state of New York had asked for a piece of the Barclays Center arena in exchange for, say, giving direct subsidies (both) and giving away naming rights (state)?


Posted by steve at 2:30 PM

June 15, 2012

Willets Point land a shameful steal of a deal for Mets

City is on the way to paying $500 million for tract and gifts 23 acres to Wilpons and partners for retail, entertainment and hotel complex by Citi Field

NY Daily News
by Juan Gonzalez

Wow. Who knew Bruce Ratner got stiffed on his Atlantic Yards land grab — at least compared to the Wilponzis of WIllets Point.

ONLY in Michael Bloomberg’s New York are we asked to believe that giving away huge swaths of city-owned land to millionaires is a wonderful deal.

The mayor announced Wednesday that the city had selected the Wilpons, of the Mets and Sterling Equities, and Steve Ross of The Related Companies, to develop 23 acres of land in the Willets Point redevelopment area in Queens.

The Wilpon-Ross partnership, Queens Development Group, will be handed this land completely free of charge, so it can build its own new retail, entertainment and hotel complex adjacent to the Mets’ Citi Field.

Yes, free land, even though the city is on track to spend nearly $500 million buying that very land from scores of industries and auto repair firms that operated there for decades, putting in new sewer lines, and erecting new Long Island Expressway ramps.

Free land, even though Queens Development has committed to developing only one-third of the entire 60-acre Willet Points project City Council approved back in 2008.

Queens Development won’t even have to begin construction on a single unit of residential housing — part of the original lure of the project — until 2025.


Posted by eric at 6:21 PM

Forest City: 9,300 people inquire about Barclays Center jobs

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's Insider today:

ARENA JOBS: In just two weeks, more than 9,300 people have sought jobs at the Barclays Center, the arena opening Sept. 28 in Brooklyn. They were prompted by 21,000 postcards mailed to Housing Authority residents by developer Forest City Ratner, which also visited local churches. About 2,000 jobs are available, though barely 100 are full-time positions. Top priority in hiring is being given to Housing Authority applicants, followed by those from the three nearest community districts. The city Department of Small Business Services will help screen applicants.

So, does this mean the arena's a savior, or that Brooklyn has a lot of unemployed people? (Similarly, Forest City promoted the number of people interested in affordable housing as a sign of the validity of Atlantic Yards.)

Note that very few, if any, of the Housing Authority residents are either eligible for, or seeking, the higher-skilled full-time jobs. There are some 1900 part-time jobs, averaging, according to my calculations, 23.6 hours per week.


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Community Board 8 agrees to request curbs on arena liquor license, cites bottle service from Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, concern about late-night drinking, and information not previously available to CBs

Atlantic Yards Report

The saga of the pending Barclays Center liquor license--actually, some 54 separate licenses--took two twists yesterday.

First, arena operators announced the presence of Jay-Z's sometimes controversial 40/40 Club, apparently to include bottle service. Then Brooklyn Community Board 8, hitherto absent from the debate, unanimously agreed to ask the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for an earlier cut-off time at a massive facility just past its borders.

The 40/40 Club announcement, like nearly every news release regarding the Barclays Center, was surely strategized to drive headlines, and it did.

The timing--after the liquor license process is well along--may also have been strategized to avoid Community Board scrutiny. (The SLA holds the second day of a two-day public hearing June 20 at 7 pm at its office in Harlem.

When representatives of the arena and Levy Premium Foodservice made presentations to Community Boards 2 and 6, beginning in April, there was no mention of the 40/40 Club, or bottle service, a mode of distribution that provoked CB 6 to express disapproval of the liquor license application, given that it's usually limited to less residential areas.

Beyond that, the Community Boards were told that alcohol service at the arena would end, as per league standards, by the end of the third quarter of NBA games, and before the end of other events.

Only after the two CBs expressed conditional support for the license, with most conditions easily met, did the applicants acknowledge that 1,800 VIPs--the equivalent, perhaps, of nearly two dozen neighborhood bars--would be allowed to drink for an hour after the end of each event. The SLA is statutorily required to consider Community Board input, rather than general public input.


Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

Catching up: optimism about arena-area retail rents, unmet promises in Williamsburg, auditions for Brooklyn Nets dance team

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder rounds up some stories that we missed, too. Here are some shortcut links:

The Wall Street Journal, Brooklyn Waits on Promise of a Park

It has become a familiar scenario across the city, as large developments such as Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Willets Point in Queens move forward: The promises made by the city and developers to overcome opposition change over time or are delayed long into the future.

The Real Deal, How the Barclays Center will transform Brooklyn retail leasing

NY Observer, Nets Debut Dance Team (Containing Only One Native Brooklynite) and Its Cheeky Moniker: The Brooklynettes


Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

Enough False Promises of Affordable Housing Development!

The SurReal Estate
by Elise Goldin

Meanwhile, in real news...

There is a major lack of affordable housing in New York City, and everyone knows it. When the government pushes large scale development projects, it is often the promise of jobs and affordable housing that win community support for the project. In the case of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn (the site of Barclay’s Center, the new Nets arena) developers promised to build over 2,000 units of low and middle-income housing. But as the arena’s construction is nearing completion, where is the affordable housing?


Photo: Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

Nets new 'Brooklynettes' dance team tapped

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

From the Forest City Ratner playbook: if you're not coming close to delivering on your ridiculously empty promises of jobs and affordable housing, distract the people with Jay-Z, more Jay-Z — and cheerleader tryouts!

The Brooklyn Nets last night selected a new 20-member dance team that will perform during game days beginning next season at the new Barclays Center.

Formerly known as the Nets Dancers during the club's days in New Jersey, the dance group during an event at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg also revealed its new black-and-white logo -- and hot off-season uniforms.

“Brooklynettes exemplifies a strong feminine name with a creative connection to the borough,” said Petra Pope, senior vice president of Event Marketing and Community Relations for the Brooklyn Nets, in a statement. “The 20 talented dancers selected last night are diverse in their interests, global in their backgrounds, and cutting-edge in their style, just like Brooklyn. We are looking forward to weaving the innovative and unique expressions of the borough into everything we do.”


NoLandGrab: Kind of like 1-800-MATTRESS, they leave off the last "O" — for cleavage.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

Jay-Z's 40/40 Club Will Open at Barclays Center

The upscale bar and restaurant will debut on opening night, September 28.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

The non-news continues to spew from Brett Yormark's smoke machine.

Jay-Z will bring his swank 40/40 Club to his hometown of Brooklyn, with a new location set to open inside of the Barclay’s Center in September.

The 9,000 square-foot bar and restaurant will be located on the Barclays Brownstone Suite Level, and will include the same custom illuminated amber resin bar top as it’s flagship location in Manhattan.

“There is no better home for another 40/40 Club location than the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn,” said Jay-Z, in a statement. “The 40/40 Club has revolutionized restaurants in a way I anticipate Barclays Center to transform the arena watching experience.”


NoLandGrab: If getting suckas to pay $300 for a bottle of Grey Goose vodka is "revolutionary," then yes, by all means.

Related coverage...

NY Post, Jay-Z's 40/40 Club coming to Barclays Center

t will only be open when the arena is hosting events. Booze will be served up until an hour after arena events end – but no later than 2 a.m.

Developer Forest City Ratner’s arena-drinking plan — which has come under fire from local civic groups — still needs to be approved by the State Liquor Authority.

Nets season ticket holders have first crack at reservations for the new 40/40 Club, but the venue isn’t limited to patrons splurging big bucks for luxury suites.

DNAinfo.com, Jay-Z's 40/40 Club to Open Barclays Center Location

The 40/40 Club, co-owned by Jay-Z and partner Juan Perez, also has locations in Manhattan's Flatiron District and Atlantic City.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

June 14, 2012

From the Committee for Arena Justice: request for more oversight, new financial penalties, and an independent compliance monitor

Atlantic Yards Report

What exactly did the Committee for Arena Justice, the organizers of the rally held this past Sunday, ask? Well, a copy of a letter displayed at the rally (bottom) shows that they want to see more benefits for Central Brooklyn--in a sense asking for developer Forest City Ratner to comply with pledges initially made.

To some degree the failure to deliver benefits, as Forest City would say, has to do with delays in implementing the project. How to fix that? Well, the committee wants new penalties on the developer--but the state has shown no inclination to revise contracts that give Forest City a long leash.

Fox guarding henhouse?

The other request seems far more achievable. As I wrote, the signatories of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), who negotiated such benefits, seem muzzled, by contract, dependence, or prudence, unable to even publicly demand the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the CBA, leaving Forest City Ratner, as one speaker put it, the fox guarding the henhouse.

So the committee's request for an Independent Compliance Monitor is merely asking the developer to fulfil a pledge it made years ago--and that shouldn't be as politically difficult. Can project boosters, or those on the fence, really defend that?


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Clergy Lead Protest to Hold Ratner and NY State Accountable on Atlantic Yards Promises

In the wacky world of Atlantic Yards, project critics and opponents are trying to keep the developer and his backers accountable for their promises, while the developer's partners and project proponents remain silent on the developer's broken promises.

Posted by eric at 12:06 PM

Kelly Anderson, 'My Brooklyn' Director, Discusses Brooklyn Gentrification

The Huffington Post
by Christopher Mathias

According to The Fordham Institute's Michael J. Petrilli, Brooklyn has four of the nation's top 25 most gentrifying zip codes. They are, in order of whiteningness, 11205 and 11206 (parts of Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, and Williamsburg) 1237, ("East" Williamsburg and Bushwick) and 11238 (Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bed Stuy).

But Brooklynites don't really need charts and graphs to know gentrification is creeping further and further into the borough.

Three recent documentaries have focused on the issue. "Battle For Brooklyn" documents the process by which a chunk of Prospect Heights was displaced to make room for Atlantic Yards and Barclays Center, "Gut Renovation" focuses on the rezoning of Williamsburg, and "My Brooklyn: The Battle For The Soul Of A City" concentrates on Downtown Brooklyn, and vanishing Fulton Mall.

"My Brooklyn" (which, along with "Gut Renovation," received the Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival) features footage of Mayor Bloomberg and real estate developers salivating over the Brooklyn market while longtime residents are brought to tears in intimate interviews about having to move their families or close their businesses.

The film, by Kelly Anderson and Allison Lirish Dean, shows concrete evidence that gentrification, namely in New York, doesn't just happen, but is rather fueled by public policy.


NoLandGrab: Battle for Brooklyn, for those of you with short memories, won top honors at the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

Jay-Z named director at Barclays Arena firm

NY Post
by Rich Calder and David K. Li

Continuing today's theme of non-news...

He’s not "Chairman of the Board" like that other New York music superstar, but Jay-Z can now call himself "Director of the Arena."

"D-boy who infiltrated all the corporate dudes" added another title to his already impressive resume. He’s listed under his real name of Shawn Carter as a "director" for the Brooklyn Arena LLC, the company that runs Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The new title emerged in papers filed by arena developer Forest City Ratner Cos. in its bid to secure a liquor license for the future home of the Brooklyn Nets.

As one of seven directors, the rapper and music mogul will attend board meetings and help direct arena senior staff on daily operations, Barclays Center officials confirmed today. ...

Jay-Z in a minority investor in the Brooklyn Nets, the former New Jersey franchise that’s set to play its first games in the 718 this fall.

Arena brass declined to comment on whether he has any interest in the arena.


Posted by eric at 11:51 AM



Brett Yormark must've had the boys in marketing working round the clock to come up with that name.

As far as first impressions go, the Brooklyn Nets did this one right.

The team held their final round at Brooklyn Bowl Wednesday, trimming the team to 20 girls … then immediately introducing them in new uniforms.

They’re called: The Brooklynettes.


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

June 13, 2012

At daytime SLA hearing on Barclays Center liquor license, some community dismay, but support from Markowitz, a stack of letters, and a judge who kept looking for Community Board input

Atlantic Yards Report

Does the Barclays Center deserve to be treated pretty much like any other sports facility in the area, in terms of its liquor license, or should there be some curbs resulting from the arena's tight fit into Prospect Heights, just as Wrigley Field in Chicago has a 9:30 pm cutoff and limited night events?

A few Brooklynites yesterday argued the latter, during the first phase of a two-part public hearing held by the State Liquor Authority (SLA). But given that the SLA is directed to weigh input from the local Community Boards, and the latter have already expressed their support for the liquor license, such concerns now have less weight.

Administrative law judge Raymond Di Luglio more than once indicated that the venue--if not the precisely the license--was "a fait accompli," noting that the SLA's job is not only to respond to neighborly concern but to find out if the liquor license is in the public interest.

Arena operators brought a group of lawyers, officials, and even a lobbyist, with two black cars waiting outside. After the second phase of the hearing June 20, Di Luglio will issue findings to be shared with the SLA officers.

Contrast with MSG; serving later for NBA games

Actually, in one way, Barclays Center operators seek even more latitude than Madison Square Garden (MSG). The Brooklyn arena plans to keep serving alcohol to VIP patrons for one hour after all events. While MSG offers such latitude for most events, it does not allow after-event liquor sales during NBA games.

The NBA cutoff is the end of the third quarter; I'm checking to find out how many arenas allow such after-game sales, in seeming contravention of the cutoff, and whether the Barclays Center needs a waiver from NBA guidelines.


Related coverage...

DNAinfo.com, Barclays Center Reps Expect 'Neighborly' Crowds in Late-Night Booze Bid

In a letter backing the Barclays Center liquor-license application, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said the late-night cutoff time for alcohol sales was necessary to allow the Barclays Center to "fully deliver a world-class sports and entertainment venue" on par with Yankee Stadium or Citi Field.

But a spokesman for Brooklyn State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery slammed that comparison followingTuesday's hearing.

"This is not like Yankee Stadium or Citi Field or Madison Square Garden," said Montgomery spokesman James Vogel. "This thing has people living 45 feet across from it. It's in the middle of residential neighborhoods; it doesn't have a surrounding buffer of parking lots and highways the way Yankee Stadium and Citi Field do."

Brownstoner, First SLA Hearing Held For Barclays Liquor License

The hearings come after both local community boards had given their conditioned approvals–but only in the absence of disclosure by arena operators revealed that some parts of the arena would serve alcohol as late as 2 a.m.

Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

June 12, 2012

June 19th 7pm: Kickoff Meeting to Plan Demonstration at Barclays Arena Opening

On Tuesday, June 19th Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, BrooklynSpeaks, the Brown (Memorial Baptist Church) Community Development Corporation and Occupy groups invite you to a kickoff meeting to organize a protest demonstration at the Barclays Center opening.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards promised jobs, housing and hoops. All we're getting is hoops, parking lots, a demolition zone, a traffic/parking fiasco, rats, and the Borough's biggest bar. An arena alone nets nothing for Brooklyn.

Amidst all the hoopla around the arena opening in September and various big act bookings, we must not allow the public, the press and elected officials to forget how Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov's billion dollar arena came to be and all the bait-n-switching that has gone on enabling Ratner to control, and hold hostage, 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn for an illegitimate project.

On June 19th join us and participate in planning for the September 28th demonstration at the arena opening.

Spread the word, we want your ideas and your active participation.

Tuesday, June 19 at 7pm
at Brown Memorial Baptist Church
484 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn


Posted by eric at 10:45 PM

Video: In April, Community Boards were told alcohol service would end by beginning of fourth quarter of NBA games and before end of events. No exception for VIP seats was mentioned.

Atlantic Yards Report

Oversight or deliberate obfuscation?

So, what exactly were Community Boards 2 and 6 told about the cut-off time for alcohol service at the Barclays Center arena? There were not told a belatedly-released detail: that, for a segment of high-rollers, some 1800 people (as clarified at a State Liquor Authority hearing this morning), service could go one hour after all events.

Now 1800 people is about 10% of the arena capacity for basketball, a little less than the capacity for concerts, so it may seem like a relatively small number--especially compared to figures reported in the press, like 5,400. But that also could be seen as the capacity of a dozen reasonably-sized bars.

At a joint meeting of the Community Boards, 4/10/12, Robert Skene, an attorney for Levy Premium Foodservice, co-applicant with Brooklyn Events Center (an affiliate of Forest City Ratner), presented the plan, in a bureaucratic but clear enough voice.

"The client intends to follow the NBA policy, which is no service at the beginning of the fourth quarter. So the end of the third quarter will be the cutoff time," Skene said. "For concerts and other family-oriented events, there will be a cutoff time before the end of the event, but that particular time is going to be deemed appropriate for each event."


Posted by eric at 10:32 PM

Barclays Center Has Bieber, Jay-Z on Schedule, But No 'Community Events'

by Leslie Albrecht

Big name acts like Justin Bieber, Barbra Streisand and Journey are booked to perform months from now at the Barclays Center, but the new arena hasn't scheduled any of the so-called "community events" intended to raise money for local non-profits.

The neighborhood-boosting events were promised in the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, which spelled out how locals would benefit from the new arena which is set to open in September with a Jay-Z concert.

In addition to a pledge to provide jobs for public housing residents, the Community Benefits Agreement called for the Barclays Center to be "available to community groups for at least 10 events per year, at a reasonable rate, with net proceeds from such events to be used to support non-profit community organizations."

So far, none of those events have been scheduled, said Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum.

"It's too early for that."

Must be "too early" for any affordable housing, too.

"They're very actively scheduling big ticket events, but like with everything else that's supposedly for the public, they haven't focused on (the community events)," said Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

"Everything that was sold as a benefit to the community, from the housing to the jobs to the open space — they're all on the back burner."

Goldstein noted that it's never been made clear exactly what a "community event" is and how the events will be organized.

"What does it even mean, a 'community event?'" Goldstein said.


Posted by eric at 10:17 PM

Meeting June 26 on Barclays Center operations: security, sanitation, and on-site parking lot; expect some debate over Forest City Ratner's scope of commitment

Atlantic Yards Report

After public meetings on transportation issues regarding the Barclays Center arena, Borough President Marty Markowitz's office has announced a meeting June 26 for community stakeholders:

Your organizations are invited to Brooklyn Borough Hall to join Kenneth Adams, President and CEO of Empire State Development, FCRC, and elected officials (or their representatives) to discuss Barclays Center arena operations with a focus on security, sanitation and the parking lot (Block 1129).

This meeting will be held:

Tuesday, June 26th @ 6pm
Community Room
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street

Following the format of Transportation Working Group meetings, participation in this round-table discussion of arena operations is limited in order to keep the meeting size manageable.

Only one representative from each group was supposed to RSVP to Luke DePalma, Director of Policy and Planning.


Posted by eric at 10:12 PM

Crime Report: Gun Violence and More iPhone Thefts

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

Marshalls Plan

A thief — possibly a chatty one — stole a woman’s wallet inside the Marshalls department store in the crime-ridden Atlantic Center Mall on June 6.

The victim told cops that she was inside the Atlantic Avenue store at about 4 p.m. when she had a brief conversation with a man. A few minutes later, she noticed that her wallet, which contained various cards, was missing. She told police that she was unsure if the talkative gent was the thief.


Posted by eric at 10:03 PM

Journey to Brooklyn

City Room
by Andy Newman

More like "Journey back in time."

Bruce Ratner's arena is supposed to open on September 28th, 2012, but his concert lineup largely makes it seem like it's September, 1982.

Ten words: Journey. Pat Benatar. Loverboy. Barclays Center. Oct. 30. Barbra who?


NoLandGrab: Don't forget that exciting new act, Rush!

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Details from Barclays Center liquor license application: no info about after-hours service, but list of bars, entrances detailed, Jay-Z's role

Atlantic Yards Report

As the first of two State Liquor Authority public hearings on the Barclays Center liquor license approaches at 11 am today, the license application from Levy Restaurants reveals some new details about the plans, and those behind them.

However, it does not shed any light on the revelation that alcohol service in "premium, limited access areas of the Arena such as the suites, clubs and the restaurant," alcohol service would continue for an hour after events, no later than 2 am--a detail not disclosed to Community Boards 2 and 6 as they considered, and ultimately supported, the license.

Hence the request by local elected officials for further review. (I don't know if the Community Boards have responded yet--the CB 6 executive committee met last night--but expect discussion of the issue today.)


Posted by eric at 10:36 AM

Report: schedule indicates Carlton Avenue Bridge delayed, but could meet arena opening date thanks to overtime; ESDC says "mitigation plan" reference incorrect; arena still on schedule for September 5; transit connection slips to mid-AugustThe report, dat

Atlantic Yards Report

The Carlton Avenue Bridge is still scheduled to be completed on 10/3/12, five days after the first event at the Barclays Center, but, according to a report from the construction monitor for the arena bond trustee, Forest City Ratner is paying overtime to meet the completion date, and also has asked the city Department of Transportation for the OK to open the bridge with temporary street lighting and railing.

The report, dated 6/4/12 and based on a site visit 4/26/12 and a later document review, was issued by Merritt & Harris, which reports to the bond trustee, developer Forest City Ratner, and the Empire State Development Corporation.

The report also states, "Nevertheless, the Empire State Development (ESD) has requested that FCRC propose a mitigation plan to control and alleviate the traffic flow congestion for the first event at the arena, scheduled for September 28, 2012."

Is that so? Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, ESD, told me the report was wrong. Merritt & Harris, she suggested, might be referring to the Transportation Demand Management plan (TDM) developed by Forest City.


NoLandGrab: September 28th, October 3rd. Tomato, tomahto. Whatever the date, it's clear Forest City Ratner hasn't cared about "f**king the bridge."

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

June 11, 2012

At clergy-led rally for arena justice, some new voices, some ironies, and a request for new oversight; "we're not just going to get caught up in the [Nets/Jay-Z] hype"

Atlantic Yards Report

In the annals of Atlantic Yards rallies, yesterday's rally catercorner to the nearly-finished Barclays Center arena, was on the not-huge side, perhaps 130-150 people, but with new energy sparked by the several clergypeople, as well as four elected officials, two of them longtime project opponents representing the Atlantic Yards site.

And part of the message--bring the promised jobs and affordable housing now--came not without irony, as it echoed the message from Atlantic Yards proponents, issued when the project faced legal or jurisdictional roadblocks.

Then again, those proponents seem muzzled, by contract, dependence, or prudence, unable to even publicly demand the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) they signed, leaving Forest City Ratner, as one speaker yesterday put it, the fox guarding the henhouse.


And the Coalition for Arena Justice, organized by Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church, wants something more structural: stronger oversight for the project, with a role for representatives of local elected officials and local stakeholders. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not indicated such a willingness, but, as noted in the flier at bottom, there are significant contrasts between promises and results, the latter permitted by gently-written state contracts.

Click through for much more coverage, including video.


Photos by Adrian Kinloch

Related coverage...

Carroll Gardens Patch, Brooklyn Clergy Turn Against Barclays Center Developer

After nine years of largely holding their peace—and praying for promised affordable housing and jobs—several Brooklyn clergy members forcefully spoke out against Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner at a planned rally Sunday in Fort Greene.

"Enough is enough," said Rev. Clinton Miller, pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill, to a cheering group of around 80 protesters in front of the Atlantic Terrace housing complex. "We've waited to see what happened."

Miller led a group of religious leaders in announcing the formation of a faith-based Committee For Arena Justice made up of 25 Brooklyn congregations calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hold Ratner to promises made to the community regarding affordable housing and jobs.

"We the people of Brooklyn have been sold a bad bill of goods," Miller said.

Brownstoner, Churches Rally for Jobs and Housing at Atlantic Yards

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Those "First Home Game since 1957" signs? The Nets pay $25 for putting them up in store windows

Atlantic Yards Report

You couldn't pay us to root for the Brooklyn Nets, but that sentiment is apparently not universal.

On his I Love Franklin Avenue blog, Nick Juravich writes:

Those "First Home Game since 1957" signs that have popped up all over? The Nets pay $25 a pop for businesses to put them in the window (as a local business owner informed me). A lot of money and legwork, but still probably cheaper than a 30-second TV spot.

I suspect that street team has made certain streets a priority. I've seen a few of the signs on Smith Street, but Coney Island Avenue--not so much.


Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

B'klyn neighbors frustrated about Barclays Center worker invasion

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Yet another way in which the ESDC has completely abdicated responsibility protecting the quality of life around the Atlantic Yards site.

Rats and noise are one thing — but turning a neighborhood playground into a hangout for construction workers is just too much, say a band of Brooklyn neighbors near the rapidly rising Barclays Center arena.

The burly, foul-mouthed workers have virtually turned the children’s oasis into their own turf – lounging on benches, smoking cigarettes and then harassing neighbors who complain, residents told The Post.

The invasion has scared off many Park Slope and Prospect Heights parents and nannies, who say they had taken children to the Dean Street public playground between Sixth and Carlton avenues for years but now feel too intimidated to go back.

It’s our neighborhood amenity, and now we feel like we can’t even go there anymore. They curse and have no respect,” said a 40-year-old mother who lives a block away with her 7-year-old daughter.

Other neighbors complain that the workers congregate on local stoops as well.

Civic leaders have asked the developer to station a security guard at the playground but to no avail.

A Forest City Ratner spokesman said the firm has “discussed” the playground “issue” with arena contractor Hunt Construction, the NYPD and the Mayor’s Office, adding police “should be notified” and potentially issue summonses if anyone is breaking the law.

However, residents say calling the cops has been ineffective because they generally can’t get there quick enough to catch the workers in the act.


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Brooklyn a “Better Than 50%” Likelihood for Isles?

Arbour Day
by Angelica Rodriguez

We've been saying for some time that, despite nonsensical speculation to the contrary, there's no chance the Islanders will ever call the Barclays Center home. And now it's certain that they won't, since noted prevaricator Brett Yormark is now claiming there's a better than 50/50 chance that they will.

Chris Botta posted on Sulia via Twitter that Brett Yormark, the CEO of the Brooklyn (formerly New Jersey) Nets, has reported the Isles’ likelihood of joining his team at the Barclays Center to be “better than 50%.” Does that mean it’s going to happen? Of course not. Nothing is set in stone and the Islanders still have three years to weigh their (limited?) options.

Not to mention that Yormark is full of baloney.


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

A successful private-public partnership and one less so

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

And the MTA giveth to Bruce Ratner, and Ratner keeps takething away — over and over again.

In New York, one of the more problematic public-private partnerships has concerned the Atlantic Yards project. While more of a direct sale, Bruce Ratner’s obligations involved transit. In a nutshell, the MTA gave Ratner a sweetheart price for the air rights to the Vanderbilt Yards in Brooklyn with the original promise of a new nine-track train yard for $225 million. In 2009, the MTA agreed to a reduction in the size of the train yard. Ratner would have to build only a seven-track facility instead. A sweetheart deal had just gotten sweeter.

Now, we learn that despite a guaranteed delivery date of 2016, Ratner is facing delays in the construction of the train yard. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, the delays are due to “higher-than-expected costs and a sluggish economy.” These same excuses have been percolating around the Vanderbilt Yards for years.


Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

RPTInvestors, Mortgage Firm, Pressuring States To Use Eminent Domain To Solve Housing Crisis

Reuters via The Huffington Post
by Matthew Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan

Eminent domain taketh away, and now these financiers want it to giveth back.

Here's a controversial but intriguing approach to the U.S. housing crisis: keep cash-strapped residents in their homes by condemning their mortgages.

A mortgage firm backed by a number of prominent West Coast financiers is pushing local politicians in California and a handful of other states hardest hit by the housing crisis to use eminent domain to restructure mortgages that borrowers owe more money on than their homes are actually worth.

San Francisco-based Mortgage Resolution Partners, in a presentation reviewed by Reuters, says condemning so-called underwater mortgages and taking them out of the hands of private lenders and bondholders is "the only practical way to modify mortgages on a large enough scale to solve the housing crisis."

Over the years, governments have used eminent domain authority to clear urban slums or seize land to build highways and bridges.

And also to take a perfectly fine neighborhood and give it to Bruce Ratner to build a much-need basketball arena.

Under the ambitious proposal, Mortgage Resolution Partners would work with local governments to find institutional investors willing to provide tens of billions of dollars to finance the condemnation process to avoid using taxpayer dollars to acquire millions of distressed mortgages.

A local government entity takes title to the loans and pays the original mortgage owner the fair value with the money provided by institutional investors.

Mortgage Resolution Partners works to restructure the loans, enabling stressed homeowners to reduce their monthly mortgage payments. The restructured loans could then be sold to hedge funds, pension funds and other institutional investors with the proceeds paying back the outside financiers.

And now for the money shot:

Mortgage Resolution Partners, which up until now has tried to keep private its discussions with local politicians and the two investment banks it is working closely with, would collect a negotiated fee on every loan that is condemned and restructured.


Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

June 10, 2012

A protest today about accountability, and the need for oversight when public-private projects have a significant private upside

Atlantic Yards Report

Today's Atlantic Yards protest is about the failure to deliver on promises, but ultimately about accountability, the fundamental issue regarding Atlantic Yards.

At the same time, endless process and too much public input, as Atlantic Yards backers argue in opposing a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, cause further delays and continued litigation.

So, how to balance democracy, accountability, and progress?

The NIMBY crowd

That question was raised in Brooklynite Will Doig's 5/26/12 Salon column When the 1 percent say no: Cities need public transit and affordable housing. But outdated laws make it easy for the wealthy to block progress:

For years, Beverly Hills has been trying to derail the planned alignment of the West Side Subway Extension, saying it would be safer to run it beneath Santa Monica Boulevard (though their own study indicates otherwise). The threat of lawsuits and endless public hearings have delayed the project but not killed it; now opponents have released a video claiming that the subway could ignite pockets of methane gas and blow the school to bits....
You could make an equally scary video about the dangers of NIMBYism, which has essentially become an official part of the urban planning process in many cities. From bike lanes in Brooklyn to desperately needed housing in D.C., public micromanagement has become such a problem that several cities are now trying to rein in the Not-In-My-Backyard crowd. “The current process does not work for anyone,” one urban design expert told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We want the Planning Commission to focus on big planning issues, not micro-design issues.”

I mostly agree with Doig, but question his tone: are "the anti-development gadflies who have time to go to years of public hearings" really worse for the public interest than the lawyers and public relations professionals paid big bucks to attend them--at least when the hearings concern projects that might be better described as private-public?

And one of the reasons people get alarmed about projects like Atlantic Yards is that city and state planners never contemplated plans for the potentially valuable Vanderbilt Yard and adjacent property. Also, two courts have essentially said that Empire State Development Corporation mislead the public in failing to study a project that could last 25 years.


Posted by steve at 9:22 AM

Forest City claims "we've been working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality," says "there's a certain irony" about protest today (well, only a bit)

Atlantic Yards Report

In a preview today about the Atlantic Yards protest at 3 pm, Patch offers a quote from Forest City Ratner:

We understand fully the need for more jobs and more housing in Brooklyn and throughout the City, which is why we’ve been working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality. But there’s a certain irony that people who were opposed to the project, and worked hard to stall the project, now criticize it for not delivering fast enough the benefits.
The arena is scheduled to open this September and we have started an extensive outreach initiative to fill the 2000 arena jobs, including visits with community groups, public housing and churches. We hope as well to begin the housing this year. Fifty percent of the first building will consist of affordable units.
We are hopeful that as Atlantic Yards progresses, that we can all work together to achieve the benefits that we believe Brooklyn needs and that this development will provide.

Looking more closely

Forest City has been "working very hard to make Atlantic Yards a reality" under the timetable and program that makes sense to it as a company that must meet certain profit and revenue goals.

Bruce Ratner admitted in 2010 that the project was never expected to be built in the promised ten years, even though that's the time frame that the developer and governmental officials used to estimate project benefits. And last he said that "existing incentives" don't work for high-rise, union-built affordable housing, which is of course what his firm proposed.

As for the "certain irony that people who were opposed to the project, and worked hard to stall the project, now criticize it," Forest City has a slender point, though not a convincing one. The Coalition for Arena Justice organized by Brown Memorial Baptist Church consists mainly of churches that were not part of the Atlantic Yards battle, though a few pastors were periodic critics.

BrooklynSpeaks, a co-sponsor of the rally, never opposed the project but has tried to improve it, and went to court to seek a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, given that Forest City, while promising a ten-year buildout, negotiated contracts that give the firm 25 years. (It had previously avoided going to court.) Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which did oppose the project and led several lawsuits, has promoted the protest, but is not an official sponsor.

Has Forest City "started an extensive outreach initiative to fill the 2000 arena jobs"? Nearly, but not quite. The 105 full-time jobs do not require "extensive outreach," while the 1901 other jobs are part-time--but not the equivalent of full-time jobs once promised by the project. That said, Forest City had not previously promoted this number of arena jobs, and they will surely be welcome to those who have them, and tell their friends and associates.

While fifty percent of the first building will consist of affordable units, affordable does not mean low-income, and most of those who rallied for the subsidized housing will not be eligible for many if not most of the affordable units. And Forest City Ratner, as Council Member Letitia James has pointed out, has not lived up to its promise for larger affordable apartments in the first tower.

As for how "we can all work together to achieve the benefits that we believe Brooklyn needs and that this development will provide," consider the passive sentence construction: "this development will provide."

The development won't provide anything without investment, subsidies, pressure, and penalties. That's the argument for oversight.


Posted by steve at 9:17 AM

Crown Heights, Atlantic Yards, and the Nets - Brooklyn Speaks Rally on Sunday at 3pm

I Love Franklin Ave.

ILFA doesn't usually cover Atlantic Yards or the Brooklyn Nets, both because Franklin is just far enough east that it often seems to fall outside the immediate Ratner blast radius (though more on this in a moment) and because if you want Atlantic Yards info, Norman Oder's got you covered. Still, a few things I've stumbled across over the past month or so have raised some questions that I thought merited further discussion.

Most pressingly, Brooklyn Speaks is hosting a rally to demand oversight, jobs, and housing tomorrow at 3pm at the corner of Atlantic and South Portland. An umbrella group for many organizations that have been fighting Forest City Ratner and Atlantic Yards for nearly a decade, they've got the support of many local politicians, including ILFA fave Tish James, who's been a persistent and eloquent critic of the various iterations of the Ratner Plan for Central Brooklyn. There's more info about this event (and other upcoming ones) on their website, but the rally is fairly self-explanatory - they're demanding more jobs (according to their numbers, of 15,000 construction jobs promised, only 186 have been created for Brooklyn residents), the construction of affordable housing (171 affordable units were torn down, 2,250 have been promised, none yet built), and increased oversight of both the construction process and the ultimate result.

Trying to take the initiative in the PR game, Forest City Ratner built a playground for Crown Heights residents at St. John's and Buffalo, a few miles from the area, last month. Sonja Sharp had the scoop for DNAInfo, and the Brooklynians have been chatting about it. Something to think about, given the location of this playground, is that Forest City Ratner, though (theoretically) locked in to providing those affordable units, has considered moving them "offsite" from the main development (between Vanderbilt and Flatbush) to the former St. Mary's hospital on Buffalo. Prospect Heights residents predictably blasted the plan, which segregated the affordable units from the rest of the luxury project, and one wonders whether Ratner is trying to split Community Board 8 by currying favor in the eastern part of Crown Heights in order to eventually effect that plan.

Those "First Home Game since 1957" signs that have popped up all over? The Nets pay $25 a pop for businesses to put them in the window. A lot of money and legwork, but still probably cheaper than a 30-second TV spot.

Finally, the comically underplanned parking situation at Atlantic Yards, which has been in the news consistently this spring, has ILFA rethinking my earlier comment about Franklin being outside the arena's blast radius. Franklin Avenue residents aren't fighting new clubs and arena liquor licenses, but with parking as ridiculously bad as it may be nearby, we may yet find arena-goers trolling the streets of northwest Crown Heights in search of a place to park.

More to come on this post in a bit, but for now, readers, what sort of impact do you think the arena and the Nets are going to have on the neighborhood? Will traffic and business spill over, or are we too far east? Are you planning to root for the new "home" team (even if they lose Deron Williams and turn out to be awful)? Other thoughts?


Posted by steve at 9:11 AM

June 9, 2012

Forest City executives: "we expect to break ground" this year on first tower; arena revenues should stabilize in two years

Atlantic Yards Report

In a conference call yesterday with investment analysts, executives from Forest City Enterprises followed up on the June 7 press release regarding first quarter earnings, which indicated that "[a]pproximately 70 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract."

That represents a rise from 64 percent three months earlier, which itself represented a not insignificant rise from the 56 percent reported in December 2011. The developer has admitted that the 100% mark will not be met by the arena opening.

Yesterday, CEO David LaRue suggested progress has "re-accelerated" after a slowdown thanks to the NBA labor dispute. Still, his colleagues agreed that income from the arena is not expected to stabilize for some two years after the September 2012 opening.


Posted by steve at 7:19 PM

Church, Civic Groups to Rally Sunday Over Atlantic Yards 'Broken Promises'

Prospect Heights Patch

More than two dozen churches have teamed up with Atlantic Yards watchdog groups to demand that state and city officials step in to make sure the developer delivers the jobs and affordable housing he promised.

The coalition has organized a rally on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at the corner of Atlantic and South Portland avenues to make their concerns heard.

“The assembly will demand the promised housing and jobs from the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, which has received over $200 million in subsidies to date without equal public benefit or investment,” said a press release from Brown Memorial Baptist Church, which organized the rally along with 25 other central Brooklyn churches and Atlantic Yards watchdog groups Brooklyn Speaks and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

“Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, zoning overrides, and the power of eminent domain were given to developer Forest City Ratner in exchange for affordable housing, permanent and construction jobs, and public benefits," said a news release from Brooklyn Speaks, a coalition of neighborhood groups.

"More than five years after the project’s approval, New Yorkers still aren’t close to getting what we were promised,” the release continued.

Area politicians, including Councilwoman Letitia James and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, are slated to speak.


Posted by steve at 7:06 PM

June 8, 2012

Fears of a Tight Fit for Brooklyn's Arena

The Atlantic Cities
by Norman Oder

As the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn builds toward a September 28 opening, the buzz surrounds mostly the shows: a series of Jay-Z concerts, a return of Brooklyn-born singer Barbra Streisand, and home court gigs for the newly-renamed Brooklyn Nets of the NBA.

But the public controversy dating back to the 2003 launch of the larger Atlantic Yards project persists. One current concern: neighbors fear a flood of drivers seeking free, on-street parking and visitors boozing it up at both arena events and the mushrooming number of bars just east of downtown Brooklyn.

The arena's snug setting, thanks, in part, to New York State's willingness to override city zoning that prohibits sports facilities within 200 feet of residential districts, has compounded concerns.

Arena-goers' vehicles and exuberance could disturb the peace on some nearby blocks, notably those near the surface parking lot being built at the southeast end of the irregular, 22-acre site, flanked by the "fingers" of the Prospect Heights Historic District, known for its collection of late 19th-century row houses.


Photo: flickr/Gunni Cool

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Why is there so much airplane noise on this bright sunny day?


notsayin posted the following response:

Mystery solved. Twitter user @yankees368 somehow tracked the helicopter reg N666NY to one hovering 5,600 ft over Atlantic and Flatbush last night.

A little Googling connected the registrant's address to Sky River Helicopters in NJ, who confirmed to me it was their Robinson R44 (and possibly a second helo taking turns) doing an evening-long traffic study for the DOT.

I'm checking to confirm, but guessing it's arena-related. Sky River had no idea, but they were super nice and forthcoming.

We can take our tinfoil hats off (for now!) - and probably thank Bruce Ratner for the excitement.

And then this:

Confirmed. Baseline study of traffic conditions pre-arena opening for DOT.

Beats aerial drones or black helicopters any time though.


NoLandGrab: Given the absence of a coherent security plan for the very-close-to-major-avenues arena, let's maybe not give NYPD any ideas about aerial drones.

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

Elected officials, citing no notice of post-event service, call for further review of arena liquor license; responses to CB 2 include no bending on one-year performance review

Atlantic Yards Report

As two hearings on the Barclays Center liquor license approach before the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), at their offices at 317 Lenox Avenue, in Manhattan, five Brooklyn elected officials representing the area around the arena have asked for further review by local Community Boards, given the applicant's failure to explain that clubs at the arena could serve alcohol until 2 am, up to an hour ever events.

The letter (below) was sent by state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, joined by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Assemblyman Jim Brennan, and NYC Council Member Letitia James. (Where's Council Member Steve Levin? I'll update this when I learn.)

As stated in a press release from Montgomery, the information had not been presented to either Brooklyn Community Board 2 nor Brooklyn Community Board 6 at a joint presentation to those CB licensing committees on 4/10/12. "Community Board members and personnel have told the electeds that had they been presented with this information they may have developed different license stipulations to protect the local residents," the press release said.

"We are acting to protect the rights of our Community Boards to protect the interests of our local residents and businesses,” Montgomery said, requesting further Community Board review not of the entire license application but the section regarding after-event service at clubs. "These serious omissions endanger the entire license application. They must be remedied.”


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Pols Say CBs Didn't Approve Barclays 2 a.m. Liquor Plan

Local elected officials are now calling on the New York State Liquor Authority to return the Barclays Center liquor license application back for Community Board review, saying that the arena’s intentions to serve liquor until 2 a.m. during non-NBA events were never approved.

Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Assemblyman James Brennan and Councilwoman Letitia James have written to SLA Chairman Dennis Rosen and SLA Commissioner Jeanique Greene asking that the Barclay’s application “be immediately divided and … returned to Brooklyn Community Boards 2 and 6 for due consideration.”

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

At announcement of gospel shows, Sharpton claims (!) Ratner "has lived up to everything he said and more" (!?!)

Atlantic Yards Report

OK, so yesterday the Wall Street Journal had a scoop about Forest City Ratner's pulling back on its obligation to build a replacement railyard--a boring, process-y infrastructure story, right?--but the Barclays Center announced two new gospel shows:

  • GRAMMY award-winning gospel great and Brooklynite Hezekiah Walker and his Love Fellowship Choir
  • 2012 Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ Gospel Celebration, the country’s premiere and most prestigious gospel music experience
  • plus ‘The King’s Men’ (already announced)

Daughtry, Sharpton, and head-spinning claims

The arena's in-house scribe had a report, Gospel has a home, on the press event, "a rousing two-song preview." But the real news, in my reading of Ben Couch's account wrote, concerned the massaging of history:

Joining Ratner and Walker as speakers were Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, Pastor of The House of the Lord Church and Founder of the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance. Both spoke of the commitment Ratner made to ensuring the community was included in the Atlantic Yards project, and more importantly – his commitment to following through on their agreements.

Daughtry traced the roots of their relationship to 2004, when the DBNA first came to an agreement with Forest City Ratner on fostering arena programs, as well as the development of a state-of-the-art health center and an intergenerational complex. Sharpton pointed out that the setting proved fitting because Daughtry’s leadership helped to define the Community Benefits Agreement that swayed those with questions to support the project.

But credit DNAinfo, in Praise the Lord! Barclays Center Christened as Gospel's New Home, for some stunning quotes:

It was nearly eight years ago that The House of the Lord church hosted another press conference, where officials from Forest City Ratner Companies and the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance announced that they had hammered out a Community Benefits Agreement to guarantee that locals would benefit from the Atlantic Yards development, said the church's pastor, Rev. Herbert Daughtry.

With the arena now poised to open in September, Daughtry praised Ratner for delivering on promised amenities like a health center and meditation room at the new arena.

Sharpton echoed those comments. "I can say without contradition [sic] that Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more," Sharpton said to a hearty round of applause. "He is an example of what corporate accountability and partnership is all about."

But some critics disagree. The watchdog group Brooklyn Speaks is holding a rally Sunday June 10 to demand stronger oversight of housing and jobs promised as part of the arena deal.

Some critics disagree is what NYU scholar Jay Rosen calls the "View from Nowhere," the false middle, the inability to do any analysis (and, btw, BrooklynSpeaks is only a part of the rally).


Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

Reverend Sharpton, Perhaps Inhabiting a Parallel Universe, Praises Ratner for Fulfilling Promises

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Bruce Ratner got state approval or his project based o promises of 2,250 units of "affordable" housing and 15,000 permanent jobs. He's deliverd a money losing arena and parking lots. Yet, here is Reverend Al Sharpton (via DNAinfo.com) today at a press event touting gospel concerts at Ratner and Prokhorov's House that Eminent Domain Built:

...With the arena now poised to open in September, [Reverend Herbert] Daughtry praised Ratner for delivering on promised amenities like a health center and meditation room at the new arena.

Sharpton echoed those comments. "I can say without contradiction that Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more," Sharpton said to a hearty round of applause. "He is an example of what corporate accountability and partnership is all about."

Actually, there is plenty of contradiction. The four big promises of job creation, affordable housing, so-called "blight removal," and the creation of open space have all amounted to big failures two years after the arena groundbreaking. Contraray to Sharpton's mind-boggling comments, Bruce Ratner has lived up to nearly nothing he has said about Atlantic Yards.


Related content...

NY1, Barclays Center To Host Gospel Events

"It's right, quite appropriate," said Bruce Ratner, the CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies. "Brooklyn is first the borough of churches and second, it is a major place for gospel."

Posted by eric at 9:33 AM

The Barclays Center Makes Progress


SHoP Architects' blog praises the work being done by SHoP Architects on the Barclays Center.

The mega-panels at The Barclays Center are made up of glass and aluminum curtain wall with weathering steel latticework factory installed to the mullions. They are typically 10 feet wide and range up to 40 feet tall. The pattern is impressive on each individual panel, but it’s even more impressive as the building takes shape and the overall pattern reveals itself. Every subtle twist and turn modeled by SHoP in the weathering steel latticework comes together seamlessly as each panel is installed.


Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

Brooklyn Eagle Columnist Dennis Holt Dies at 83


While many news sources report about events happening in the borough, Holt reported on the history leading up to these events and their long-term implications. While we didn't agree with him about everything (Atlantic Yards, for example), time after time he turned out to be prescient.

Holt has been called a Brooklyn treasure, like Junior's cheesecake, and dean of Brooklyn reporters. His voice will be missed.


Posted by eric at 9:24 AM

June 7, 2012

Brooklyn Eagle's Dennis Holt, dean of Brooklyn reporters, dies at 83

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Dennis Holt, longtime Brooklyn newspaper columnist and an inveterate booster of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project (and, consequently, a not-infrequent target of NoLandGrab's jibes) has passed away. While we rarely took the same side on local development issues, we're sorry to see him go. Our condolences to Mr. Holt's family and friends.

Dennis Holt, longtime columnist and staff writer for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and sister publications including the Brooklyn Heights Press, died on Thursday after complications from a fall in his home on May 14.

Mr. Holt was 83 years old.

He suffered broken ribs and a blow to the head, made worse by one of his medications, a blood thinner.

After serving many years as press advisor to a number of elected officials, including former Rep. Stephen Solarz, Mr. Holt was one of the founding editors of the award-winning Brooklyn Phoenix newspaper in 1972. In the mid-1990s, when the Brooklyn Daily Eagle was revived and merged with the existing Brooklyn Daily Bulletin, Mr. Holt became a senior editor and columnist.

He was an active contributor to the Eagle family of publications until his fall, writing the "Brooklyn Broadside" column and other features.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.


Posted by eric at 10:41 PM

As protest approaches June 10, another protest will be planned for the arena opening

Atlantic Yards Report

DDDB reports on "a church organized demonstration near the arena site June 10th and a June 19th planning/brainstorming meeting to kick off organizing for a demonstration at the arena opening."

Both involve Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Clinton Hill, which is stepping up its role in the Atlantic Yards fight. The rally June 10 is at 3 pm, at the corner of Atlantic and South Portland. (Here's my preview.)

On June 19 at 7 pm, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, BrooklynSpeaks, the Brown (Memorial Baptist Church) Community Development Corporation and "Occupy" are holding a kickoff meeting to organize a protest for September 28, when the arena opens.

The meeting's being held at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, 484 Washington Avenue [map].


Posted by eric at 10:21 PM

Praise the Lord! Barclays Center Christened as Gospel's New Home

by Leslie Albrecht

If bulls**t was profits, however, Forest City would have reported record earnings!

Hallelujah — gospel has a new home at the Barclays Center.

Though most know the new arena as headquarters for the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, officials christened the Barclays Center on Thursday as New York's gospel music headquarters at a tambourine-shaking press event complete with a rousing choir performance that had Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner clapping along from his pew.

It was nearly eight years ago that The House of the Lord church hosted another press conference, where officials from Forest City Ratner Companies and the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance announced that they had hammered out a Community Benefits Agreement to guarantee that locals would benefit from the Atlantic Yards development, said the church's pastor, Rev. Herbert Daughtry.

With the arena now poised to open in September, Daughtry praised Ratner for delivering on promised amenities like a health center and meditation room at the new arena.

[The Rev. Al Sharpton echoed those comments. "I can say without contradiction that Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more," Sharpton said to a hearty round of applause. "He is an example of what corporate accountability and partnership is all about."


NoLandGrab: We're betting that "Bruce Ratner has lived up to everything he said and more" means the Reverend Al's check from Forest City must've cleared.

Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Brooklyn’s Barclays Center dubbed New York’s new 'Home of Gospel'

Grammy award-winning gospel great Hezekiah Walker joined arena officials at the House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue to announce that he and his Love Fellowship Choir will be performing his “A Night of Hope” concert at Barclays Center on December 10.

“I grew up in Fort Greene, and it was always a dream of mine for a major venue in Brooklyn to become the home for gospel music -- now it’s a reality,” Walker said. “Barclays Center will be the place where the top gospel artists come to perform. I can’t wait to perform there myself.”

Posted by eric at 7:08 PM

Forest City Enterprises: contractually obligated arena revenues at 70%, up from 64%, but still far from target, four months out

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Enterprises, the parent of Forest City Ratner, announced first-quarter operating results today, with lower net earnings than during the comparable last year.

For Atlantic Yards watchers, note that there was no mention of any tower being built:

Construction is nearing completion at the Barclays Center arena at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, in preparation for the grand opening in September 2012. Approximately 70 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract. Response to recently announced events at the arena has been enthusiastic, and event ticket sales are on pace with the company's expectations.

That 70 percent statistic--which likely reflects the Calvin Klein deal-- represents a rise from 64 percent three months ago, which itself represented a not insignificant rise from the 56 percent reported in December 2011, the developer has admitted that the 100% mark will not be met by the arena opening.


Posted by eric at 7:04 PM

Pre-Registration For Barclays Center Jobs Begins

Public housing residents, as well as those living in neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic Yards, are to be given preference.

Fort Greene–Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

Barclays Center unveiled a new jobs website this week amidst continuing controversy over the number—and quality—of available employment opportunities at the site.

A representative of arena developer Forest City Ratner said that jobseekers would be able to pre-register for positions at brooklynbarclayscenterjobs.com in a hiring process expected to last two months.

Once screened, candidates will be asked back for an in-person interview at job fairs to be held in July and August. The first training sessions for new employees will take place in August, according to FCRC.

Despite an announcement made with great fanfare in April that 2,000 jobs would be created at Barclays Center, FCRC execs later walked back that figure, saying that 1,240 full-time equivalent jobs would be made available—meaning that most positions at the mega-arena would be part-time only.

Graduates of a questionably effective job training program, Brooklyn United For Innovative Local Development (BUILD), will also be given priority, [FCRC VP for external affairs Ashley] Cotton wrote.


Posted by eric at 6:50 PM

Another Delay at Atlantic Yards


Forest City is going to miss the June 30 deadline it initially agreed to for commencing work on the MTA train storage yard it is committed to building as part of its Atlantic Yards Project, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It’s more of the same,” said Democratic district leader Jo Anne Simon. The MTA doesn’t seem upset though. “From our perspective, very little is changing here,” said a spokesperson for the Transit Authority. FCR says it will break ground by the end of the year and still meet its 2016 deadline for completion.


Related coverage...

The Real Deal, Forest City Ratner admits to more delays for Atlantic Yards benefits

Posted by eric at 6:45 PM

LIRR Faces New Delay: Brooklyn Train Yard

The Wall Street Journal
by Eliot Brown

The developers of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn have delayed construction on a new train storage yard, one of the many public benefits that had been promised in order to win public approval for a professional basketball arena and housing development at the site.

While the storage facility for Long Island Rail Road trains is still required to be completed by 2016, the delay comes as developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has struggled with higher-than-expected costs and a sluggish economy that have slowed other portions of the project.

"It's more of the same," said Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic district leader in Brooklyn who is a critic of the project. "There's a whole host of things that are problematic and have been delays in benefits."

Forest City spokesman Joseph DePlasco said the yard will still be completed on time. The developer has already built a portion of the yard, he said, and other related work will continue.

MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the developer has agreed to do $10 million of additional work in the interim, and the LIRR is using a temporary rail yard meanwhile.

"From our perspective, very little is changing here," Mr. Lisberg said.


NoLandGrab: From our perspective, too — it's just one more in an endless parade of examples of broken promises that ultimately screw the taxpayers. We're guessing the MTA won't be delaying fare hikes, right?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ: Forest City gets MTA to accept start date on permanent railyard moved back 18 months; finished yard still due by September 2016

Developer Forest City Ratner, which successfully renegotiated the deal for Vanderbilt Yard development rights to build a smaller, cheaper replacement railyard and to attenuate payments, has managed to save cash flow by renegotiating another aspect of the schedule with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to the Wall Street Journal.

By building the arena, Forest City Ratner had to move the railyard functions (storage and cleaning) to a smaller temporary yard east of the arena block, and to build a larger--though not as large as originally promised--upgraded yard by 9/1/16.

As the screenshot above indicates, construction of the larger yard was supposed to begin this June 30, as indicated in an MTA Staff Summary dated 6/22/09.

The Journal's Eliot Brown reports that the start date has been moved back 18 months to 12/31/13, with terms disclosed to the MTA board members this week.

Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

Breaking city rules, construction workers take a break, and smoke, at the Dean Playground

Atlantic Yards Report

Rule-breaking dopes brought to you by the letters F, C and R!

It's not the first time that construction workers (almost surely) from the Atlantic Yards site have been caught taking a break in the Dean Playground, despite city rules that bar adults from hanging out in playgrounds if they're not supervising kids.

But it's the first time they've been caught smoking, which violates one of the playground rules. (It's also a rule, by now, in city parks.)

Atlantic Yards Watch has two sets of photos, one set taken yesterday, with the workers smoking, and another taken June 4, with the workers just hanging out.

Enforcement would seem to be a job for both the Parks Department and the Police Department; according to AY Watch, 311 advised a call to the former.

A few construction workers, at least, do not think rules apply to them; hence the creation of free parking by uprooting a "No Standing" sign.


NoLandGrab: One might think it's also a job for Forest City Ratner and its state puppet overseer, Empire State Development, no?

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Despite the arena hoopla, are they making their nut? Forest City's behind on contractually obligated revenues, and stated $4 million for Calvin Klein sponsorship claim looks doubtful

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barbra Streisand concert announced recently may be "a feather in the cap of the promoters of the arena," as the Times suggested, and the Justin Bieber announcement generated more buzz, as did even the announcement of a couple of hockey games from the Eastern European professional league, KHL.

However--and this question was relevant even before the Nets didn't get lucky in the NBA lottery--it doesn't remove the question mark over whether the Barclays Center will bring in the revenue predicted from ticket sales and sponsorships.

After all, in late March parent company Forest City Enterprises reported that some "64 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the [Barclays Center] arena are currently under contract."

While that's a not insignificant rise from the 56 percent reported in December 2011, the developer has admitted that the 100% mark will not be met by the arena opening.

The next quarterly report arrives late this afternoon and it should factor in the announcement that Calvin Klein signed on as a Founding Partner, in a deal reported at $4 million a year.

So we'll see how much closer they are to the 100%.

However, as described below, it's doubtful that the Founding Partner deals are worth $4 million a year.


Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

Bikers moving out to make way for builders

Real Estate Weekly
by Sarah Trefethen

Forest City Ratner is four to six weeks away from signing a lease for 100,000 s/f of factory space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to executive vice president MaryAnne Gilmartin.

The space is currently occupied by NYC Bike Share, which is scheduled to relocate to a permanent home in Sunset Park this fall. When that happens, Forest City will ramp up the city’s first factory for building residential high-rise buildings.

The developer plans to build a 32-story, 350-unit residential tower at Atlantic Yards by inserting the factory-built building modules into a steel chassis built on site, Gilmartin told guests at the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s “Glimpse the Future of the AEC Industry” event Tuesday morning.


NoLandGrab: In Forest City Ratner-speak, "four to six weeks" could mean anywhere from nine months to 25 years.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Forest City's Gilmartin says modular factory lease to be signed in four to six weeks

I'm placing a later quote ahead of an earlier one, but the juxtaposition is telling. At one point, Gilmartin says, “This is absolutely about bringing the unions to the table.”

At another, however, "she expects that in-factory workers will be paid $36 per hour, while the construction workers on-site will make $90 per hour." No wonder Forest City remains in negotiations with the unions.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

The Day: The Last-Place Nets Choose an ‘Official’ Hospital

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

In medical news, the Brooklyn Nets put out a statement yesterday saying that the team had chosen cash-strapped Brooklyn Hospital to be its “official hometown hospital.” The statement didn’t explain what the arrangement means, quoting hospital CEO Richard Becker saying, “Our partnership with Barclays Center will aim to keep Brooklyn healthy by providing a very visible and important platform to accomplish our goals.”

Presumably, their plans for "keep[ing] Brooklyn healthy" don't include letting people booze it up until 2 a.m. Or do they?

So we naturally wondered if the financially impoverished hospital will get some big money from the Barclays folks. Keep wondering: “We are unable to disclose the terms of the agreement,” a hospital spokeswoman said.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Two official hospital partners: Maimonides for the Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn Hospital for the arena

Just in case you were wondering, the Maimonides Medical Center is the official partner of the Brooklyn Nets (and offers team physicians), while the Brooklyn Hospital Center is the official hospital of the Barclays Center arena.

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

Documents from Community Board 6 show those approving Barclays Center liquor license didn't know arena clubs would be open one hour after events

Atlantic Yards Report

Applicants for the Barclays Center liquor license intend to keep clubs for high-rollers--up to some 5,400 people, according to the New York Post--open one hour after events, which was not explained when the applicants sought support from community boards, as noted by Atlantic Yards Watch.

Indeed, the Community Boards didn't know that. Consider a very diplomatic 5/11/12 letter, from Brooklyn Community Board 6 Chairman Daniel Kummer, to the State Liquor Authority, regarding the proposed Barclays Center liquor license:

Lastly, our board conditioned its support of the application on the imposition of certain temporal limitations with regard to service of alcohol at arena events: (i) that the applicant stop serving alcohol after either the end of the third quarter during NBA games, or one hour before the end of any other event, and (ii) that in any case alcohol service should end no later than 2:00 a.m. These conditions were proposed and approved at our general board meeting on May 9 rather than at the committee level, thus there was not an opportunity to discuss them with the applicants prior to the board’s vote. However, we are hopeful that the applicants will agree that these service limitations are a reasonable and modest accommodation that should provide some measure of assurance and relief to our community without negatively impacting the arena’s business model in any material way.

(Emphasis added)

It was not unreasonable to impose this, because, as committee meeting minutes note:

Client intends to follow NBA policy (i.e.; no service in fourth quarter of the game). Other events cut-off time before end of event decided on and [sic] event basis/

The State Liquor Authority has two hearings scheduled on the arena liquor license.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

Fans who pay for premium seating at Barclays Center will be allowed to booze longer

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Yet another Forest City Ratner bait 'n' swig.

It’ll pay to be loaded if you really want to get loaded at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center.

Patrons splurging big bucks for luxury suites and other prime seating at the house that Jay-Z built will get the added bonus of being served booze up to an hour after arena events end — or as late as 2 a.m., arena officials confirmed this week.

That’s a far cry from another set of rules for those stuck in the cheap seats, most of which run between $15 and $55 for Net games. Those fans will be able to buy booze at food stands or from roving beer vendors only until the start of the fourth quarter of Net games, as NBA rules require, or an hour before the end of most concerts and other events.

Madison Square Garden practices a more even-handed policy toward drinks, cutting off all booze sales at the same time, based on the event.

Councilwoman Letitia James, a longtime Barclays Center critic who represents the district, said the separate set of rules for high-end customers could come at a costly price, considering the 18,000-seat arena is next to such densely populated residential neighborhoods as Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

“I’m really concerned about drinking and driving because the people most likely to drive to games will likely be drinking later and longer,” said James.


Related coverage...

DNAinfo.com, Brooklyn's Barclays Center Could Serve Booze as Late as 2 a.m.

Talk about giving new meaning to the shot clock.

Gib Veconi, a member of the watchdog group Brooklyn Speaks, called it "stunning" that arena officials waited until now, a week before the SLA's public hearing on the liquor license, to reveal that the Barclays Center wants to sell alcohol until 2 a.m.

"This is another unfortunate example of an incomplete disclosure from the Atlantic Yards project in advance of a public approval," Veconi said in an email. "The SLA should defer action on the license until all the details of the clubs and other liquor service are made public."

The Real Deal, Despite community’s concerns, Barclays Center will sell alcohol until 2 a.m.

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

State Liquor Authority schedules second hearing on Barclays Center liquor license, on June 20 at 7 pm

Atlantic Yards Report

Beyond the 500-foot hearing regarding the liquor license for the Barclays Center scheduled on June 12 by the State Liquor Authority (SLA), the SLA has has scheduled a second hearing at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 20, at SLA offices in Manhattan.

SLA spokesman William Crowley said that hearing was scheduled in response to a request from state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, who has asked for a hearing to be held in the evening, and in Brooklyn. He said it was SLA policy to hold 500-foot-rule hearings at their offices.

Such hearings, he said, are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge, who writes up a finding of facts. If there is opposition to the application, then the decision is made by a three-member board of the SLA.

In this case, there is opposition, so that SLA board could meet to consider the application on July 10 or July 25, in sessions that go for hours, include numerous applications, and are webcast.

Crowley said there's no time limit on public comment, but comments should be germane to the application. Written comments are also welcomed.

He noted that the statute states Community Boards are seen as expressing the intent of the community. However, as suggested by Atlantic Yards Watch, CB 2 and CB 6 did not know that liquor sales at arena clubs could last until 2 am, one hour after an event.


Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

Community Board 3 Meets

A monthly update of the activities of Community Board 3 representing Bedford-Stuyvesant

Bed-Stuy Patch
by C. Zawadi Morris

And sometimes they can't be bothered to show up.

The Economic Development Committee planned to give a brief overview of the hiring plan for the Barclay Center to be presented by Forest City Ratner. However the representative from their office did not show. The committee is trying to re-schedule for the next CB3 meeting.


Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

Will Forest City Residential Try to Railroad New Rochelle's Echo Bay Proposal?

Talk of the Sound
by Peggy Godfrey

The author confuses Atlantic Yards with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but gets the main points right: Forest City's projects have been plagued by controversy — and they're not to be trusted.

Echo Bay development "could be good or bad," depending on how honestly the public is dealt with. Contrasting Forest City Ratner to Louis Cappelli, he said Cappelli came to every meeting and was open with the community. But Forest City Residential was trying to railroad a project against a community overwhelmingly against it. Citing the approximately 40 people in attendance at the New Rochelle Citizens Reform Club Meeting where he spoke on May 22, he said developers like Forest City Ratner depend upon residents not being aware of what is going on in the community. In Yonkers Forest City Ratner used closed door meetings and executive sessions, while Alfred Del Bello, lawyer for Cross County's expansion, would meet with the public.


Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

Rat-astrophy! Rodents run wild near arena, neighbors say

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

First comes the Ratner, then come the rats.

Big fat rats are building elaborate underground colonies, gnawing through trash cans, and even climbing into cars near the under-construction Barclays Center, where a booming rodent infestation has gone from gross to totally out of control, neighbors say.

“It’s a huge, insane invasion,” said Emilia Sherifova, who lives in north Park Slope. “They’re getting bigger and bigger — and more brazen.”

Residents have long blamed the infestation — evidenced by frequent rodent sightings and rat-roadkill dotted streets — on the soon-to-open basketball stadium, saying the huge construction project disturbed the critters and pushed them into surrounding neighborhoods.

The uptick infuriates neighbors and business owners who say Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner and his company, Forest City Ratner — which last year paid for 600 rat-proof trash cans in an attempt to thwart the problem — ought to step it up and bait the entire perimeter of the construction site.

Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum said the arena has had a rodent abatement program in place since construction began and that stadium officials have worked with city and state agencies to rid the area of rats.


NoLandGrab: If Forest City's Transportation Demand Management Plan is as efficacious as their rodent abatement program, residents are in for a real treat.

Posted by eric at 9:43 AM

Live Blogging: Atlantic Yards Area Community Impacts Meeting

Wednesday night's meeting is on sanitation issues. Can't make it? Get the blow-by-blow here.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

We're here at Wednesday night's Arena Community Impacts Meeting organized by Park Slope/Boerum Hill Councilmember Levin will discuss sanitation and transportation issues. We'll be live blogging it (timeline is newest at the bottom).

6:19 p.m. There are about 40 people at the meeting, which is taking place in the basement of the Pacific Library.

The Department of Sanitation's Community Affairs Officer Iggy Terranova is discussing sanitation. Going to put one garage in charge of cleaning up around the arena (like one precinct will be responsible for policing it). They haven't determined which garage yet.

6:25: Question from an area resident: How do we get garbage cans that are not "rat feeding stations"? (He's referring to the regular mesh ones.)

Terranova: The only way to get a "high end" garbage can is if you get someone to sponsor it.


NoLandGrab: Shouldn't one cost of taking over half of Prospect Heights be that Forest City Ratner pays for the garbage cans?

Posted by eric at 9:35 AM

June 6, 2012

Barclays Center attorney reveals arena clubs to stay open after events end, as late as 2:00 AM

Atlantic Yards Watch

A letter from Barclays Center attorney William Schrieber to Brooklyn Community Board 6 dated June 5 mentions a detail of the arena's plans for liquor sales that apparently has not been disclosed up to now: Barclays Center's four clubs will serve alcohol up to one hour after arena events end—as late as 2:00 AM.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, As liquor license hearing approaches, Forest City discloses that Barclays Center clubs will serve alcohol until 2 am (if events go to 1 am)

Guess what? Apparently the Barclays Center plans to serve alcohol until 2 am in the arena's four clubs, at least if events--presumably concerts--go to 1 am. The policy, which affects clubs with a capacity estimated at over 1,000, had not been previously unnanounced.

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

City Planning proposes slashing Downtown Brooklyn parking minimums; could impact Atlantic Yards arena-goers and required residential parking

Atlantic Yards Report

It's too soon to predict the impact on Atlantic Yards parking--both for arena-goers and future residents--but it's notable that the Department of City Planning now aims to slash mandatory parking in Downtown Brooklyn, an area adjacent to--and technically including slivers of--the Atlantic Yards site.

As Streetsblog reported 6/4/12, in DCP Proposal Will Cut Downtown Brooklyn Parking Minimums in Half:

Downtown Brooklyn’s mandatory parking minimums would be cut in half for new development and eliminated outright for affordable housing under a plan from the Department of City Planning. The change is significant — the first rollback of the costly and car-ownership inducing requirements under the Bloomberg administration — but doesn’t go far enough. Even by DCP’s own roundabout admission, the reduced parking minimums will still create an unnecessarily large supply of parking.

AY Impact?

Despite the state's pattern of overriding city zoning (including zoning of the slivers in the top map) in numerous ways to enable the Atlantic Yards project, the Empire State Development Corporation has not, as of yet, overridden the parking minimums assumed for the residential portion of the project.

The ESDC, which had previously mandated 1,100 on-site parking spaces, will apparently revise that, given plans to provide only 541 on-site spaces to arena-goers.

One explanation is that there is more off-site parking available than previously analyzed and, indeed, the new DCP report suggests an "excess parking supply."

Then again, the impact of the arena is yet unclear.


Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

Barclays Center announces registration for job recruitment events later this month, for "arena that is sure to make the neighborhood the pride of Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center is hiring for "a landmark state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena that is sure to make the neighborhood the pride of Brooklyn."

Note that the arena is in a neighborhood, Prospect Heights, that's bracing for the impact of 19,000 arena-goers, and that it's the confluence of neighborhoods with some mixed feelings.

If "[o]ver 2,000 jobs are available in areas including Retail, Food and Concession, Security and Ticket Sales," as indicated in the screenshot at bottom, well, they're also counting full-time jobs, since the previous estimate was 1901 part-time and 105 full-time.

Priority is given to residents of Brooklyn's NYCHA housing developments or Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 3, 6 or 8, though it's not quite clear how "first in line for consideration during the recruitment process" will play out.


Posted by eric at 10:18 AM

Barclays Responds to CB6 Liquor License Conditions


Back on May 9, Community Board 6 voted to support the Barclays Center liquor license application under several conditions, including that arena brass produce transportation, security and sanitation plans and set up a community advisory panel; they also demanded certain “temporal limitations with regard to service of alcohol at arena events.” The conditions were conveyed to arena operators in a letter dated May 11, 2012. Yesterday, CB6 got its response on law firm letterhead. In summary, they said they already had a transportation plan that they released a couple of weeks ago; they detail the public safety protocol that’s being put in place; they say that they are in the process of working on the sanitation plan; they agree to a bunch of “temporal limitations” most of which seem to involve stopping the service of alcohol around 3/4 of the way through sporting events and one hour before the end of other events. They also say that Forest City Ratner has agreed to a sub-committee on quality of life issues and that “this group will continue to be in communication with various neighborhood groups concerning various aspects of the operation of the Arena and conditions outside the Arena that impact the neighborhood.”


NoLandGrab: It's really should come as no surprise that the Barclays Center's law firm is headed by a guy named "Wormser." Or that they'll run the place just like any suburban, highway-surrounded arena, despite the fact that it's located on a residential block of Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 10:04 AM

Brooklyn's Under-Construction Barclays Center Revealed!

by Dave Hogarty

Curbed serves up a nice free commercial for the Barclays Center.


NoLandGrab: Best moment? SHoP principal Chris Sharples talking about the "level of openness and transparency." Not in the process!

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

A European Sensation

The Wall Street Journal
by Jan Wieczner

Like thunder rumbling in the distance, when there's an exclusive party to announce another party, you know something big is coming.

Sensation, a European dance and theatrical event at which participants dress all in white for stunning visual effect, is touching down in the U.S. on Oct. 26 and 27, at the new home of the Brooklyn Nets, the not-yet-open Barclays Center.

Event organizers held a party last week at Meatpacking hotspot Provocateur to announce Sensation America, which will host 15,000 people on each of the two nights (other Sensation events have hosted up to 40,000 a night). Some partygoers—many of whom wore all white—cheered "Brooklyn!" when the venue was announced.


Posted by eric at 9:45 AM

June 5, 2012

Arena Community Impacts Meeting

Prospect Heights Patch

The next Arena Community Impacts Meeting with Councilmember Levin will discuss the newly-released transportation plan.

Additional speakers include a guest official from the department of sanitation.

25 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Pacific Street Library - Brooklyn Public Library)
June 6, 2012
6 p.m.


Posted by eric at 1:03 PM

An effort to appeal Atlantic Yards timetable case: is dispute about routine delay, or agency deception and failure to study 25-year impact?

Atlantic Yards Report

The battle over the Atlantic Yards timetable--whether the state should have studied the community impacts of a 25-year buildout for a project long said to take a decade--is the longest-lasting Atlantic Yards court case and the first one with clear victories for project opponents and critics.

At issue is whether a change in timing of a project whose fundamental elements seem unchanged is a fundamental change.

And, depending on which side you consult, it's either a dangerous intervention by the judiciary into agency discretion or the last check on an out-of-control agency that failed to tell the public that it faced 25 years of construction, extended surface parking lots, and lingering vacant lots.

The challenge by two community coalitions was originally dismissed by a state Supreme Court judge, then reopened and ultimately reversed, with that decision unanimously backed by a state appellate court. Now the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, and developer Forest City Ratner have asked the Court of Appeals to agree to hear an appeal.

Such an appeal is not automatic, given the unanimous nature of the intermediate court's decision, so an agreement to accept the appeal would suggest that the Court of Appeals--which conveniently ignored certain arguments in its November 2009 decision upholding eminent domain for Atlantic Yards--is leaning toward reversal.

If the appeal is denied, then the ESDC would have to conduct the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) ordered by the lower courts.


Posted by eric at 12:56 PM

How Barclays Center Got Its Look


In a March lecture just posted to YouTube, Barclays Center architect Gregg Pasquarelli describes how Bruce Ratner, under pressure from bankers, critics and the city in 2009, had to twice change plans for the arena, and at one point even took an off-the-shelf design for Indianapolis' Conseco Field House and plunked it down in the middle of Brooklyn.

It was only after the city objected to "a bit of a bait and switch" in replacing a Gehry design with a "field house", that Pasquarelli's firm, SHoP, get the commission. They came up with a new design for Barclays Center in seven weeks.

"It was a much more conservative kind of design, brick and arch, more of a field house," said Pasquarelli of the Conseco design. "So the client came to us and said, 'Could you strip the building all the way down to the steel and think about re-designing it and if you can, we'll give you seven weeks to design the entire building, detail it and cost it. (laughter) And if you can do it for less than x-delta, the project is yours. So that should take about 11 months and we said, 'No problem'' (laughter) and I hope I never have a summer like that again."


NoLandGrab: And when you give your architects seven weeks to design an arena skin, the public gets a rusting hunk of a panini presssans tasty sandwiches.

Posted by eric at 12:43 PM

Riot porn from Kanye and Jay-Z

The music video for "No Church in the Wild" depicts a graphic riot scene and shows the resonance of dissent

by Natasha Lennard

A review of a new Jay-Z/Kanye West music video includes a reminder that the former is firmly rooted in the 1%, and that his sidekick is just a d**k.

Of course, none of this is to say Kanye or Jay-Z should be praised as agents for revolutionary change. Jay-Z, aside from celebrating a life of unadulterated excess, is a key voice behind developer Bruce Ratner’s controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which has been widely criticized for pushing people out of their homes and failing to provide affordable housing and jobs. Meanwhile, Kanye is a famous jerk; he walked by Zuccotti Park once to check out Occupy Wall Street last year, but, again, he is mainly a jerk.


Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

Uncertain Fate For Existing Signage at Renamed Atlantic Av.-Barclays Center Station

If history is any guide, at least some of the soon-to-be-obsolete signs will end up for sale.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Goodbye, Atlantic Av.-Pacific St. station. Hello, Atlantic Av.-Barclays Center.

With little fanfare, the Metropolitan Transit Authority put up signs last week informing riders that the station connecting nine subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road would be renamed for the 19,000-seat mega-arena quickly taking shape overhead.

Less clear, however, was the fate of dozens of existing (and now obsolete) signs throughout the transit complex.


Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

Atlantic Avenue Subway Station Will Be Crowded

From Russia with Dunk
by Raphael Astrow

Transportation to the Barclays Center will be unusual for many years to come. Brooklyn community leaders have helped prevent the Nets from building parking lots. As a result, there will only be 550 parking spaces available each night. So, Nets fans should plan to get accustomed to the Atlantic Avenue Subway Station. The MTA plans to have plenty of additional trains to take fans to Nets games. The station will look different by opening night because the Nets have paid to construct a subway connection right by their arena.


Posted by eric at 12:23 PM

Yes, Atlantic Yards is a (small) part of the race to succeed Rep. Towns

Atlantic Yards Report

Yes, Atlantic Yards popped up yesterday as a small factor in the 8th Congressional District race to succeed Rep. Ed Towns, who has endorsed (despite their differences) relative underdog and radical Council Member Charles Barron against the better-funded, more widely endorsed, and more mainstream fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

From NY 1:

In the debate that was moderated by NY1 Political Anchor Errol Louis, Barron accused Jeffries of changing his position on several key issues in the community, including the Atlantic Yards development.

Barron: “Why should we trust you? You flip-flop on Atlantic Yards. You flip-flop on charter schools so you can get money from the hedge funds. So…why should we trust, if you do all this flip-flopping…why should we trust you when you go to Congress?”

Jeffries: “You have no evidence that I’ve flip-flopped on any of those issues. In fact, this is just another example of the reckless type of charges that you have been making for the last 10 years on a wide variety of people from President Obama to Governor David Paterson on down.”

Well, I wouldn't say that Jeffries has flip-flopped on Atlantic Yards, but he has muddled about the center, early on more positive than not, these days more negative than not.

Barron has been a staunch opponent, despite his longstanding ties (former Chief of Staff to the National Black United Front Daughtry headed) to the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, a prominent project supporter and signatory of the much-criticized Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement.

And, despite Jeffries' response, on the NY 1 clip you can see him blinking uncomfortably at Barron's charges.


Related content...

NY1, NY1 ItCH Alert: Barron And Jeffries Square Off In Heated NY1 Debate

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

June 4, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: get ready for more loud noises at night, surface parking lot demolition, and Atlantic Avenue median work

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 6/4/12 (and embedded below) and released today by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, continues to warn of loud banging noises by dump trucks from 3:30 pm – 1 am as they empty their loads of stone in the east yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues.

These truckload deliveries of stone, which were expected to last ten days in May, instead are expected to continue through June 15th.

Also, work on the surface parking lot now requires demolition of underground concrete structures by hoe ram and will continue intermittently over the next week or so.

Also, work on Atlantic Avenues medians is scheduled to start the week of June 11. While the work will be done during daytime hours, some traffic signal and street light conduit work may occur during the nighttime hours.


NoLandGrab: We're sure there's a perfectly ridiculous reason why they can't empty loads of stone between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. rather than between 3:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., or why they can't double the number of trucks in order to deliver twice as much stone between 3:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., so we're all ears.

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

Atlantic Yards site "now cleared but formerly blighted"? So claims Forest City Ratner in legal papers

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes us on a trip to ESDC's bizarro world...

Sometimes something in a legal document makes your head spin. For example, consider a passage from Forest City Ratner's motion for leave to appeal the court decision ordering the Empire State Development Corporation to study the community impacts of a 25-year project buildout.

(I'll have more on the overall legal battle tomorrow.)

AY site now cleared?

On p. 7 of the document, Forest City Ratner's attorneys state that Atlantic Yards "is a major public-private undertaking that is intended to revitalize a now cleared but formerly blighted 22-acre site in Brooklyn."

(Emphasis added)

The blight's still here

It is neither "now cleared" nor "formerly blighted."

Indeed, the main "blighting" influence, the below-grade Vanderbilt Yard owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, still operates. Forest City Ratner has yet to pay for that land, nor to build a deck and then housing.

Moreover, several pieces of the 22-acre site remain privately owned/controlled, including three houses on Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue, and the P.C. Richard lease on Site 5, known as the Shops at Atlantic Center, on the block bounded by Pacific Street and Flatbush and Fourth avenues.

As to whether the site is "now cleared but formerly blighted," consider that most of Block 1129, the southeast block of 1129, will serve as a "cleared" surface parking lot.

And surface parking lots, according to the Empire State Development Corporation's Blight Study, are underutilized and thus blighted.


Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Baseline study to measure success of TDM program begins

Atlantic Yards Watch

Automatic Traffic Recorders and manual counters have been sighted at some of the intersections in the vicinity of the arena in the last few days. The photo to the right shows a counter in a green safety vest at Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street Saturday, June 2nd at 8:15 PM.

They are a sign the baseline study is currently underway that will provide one set of data later to be used to assess the success of Sam Schwartz Engineering's Transportation Demand Management Program. Apparently at least some data in the FEIS will still be used as well because the baseline study includes a smaller study scope than the FEIS.

The idea of a baseline study was disclosed to the public in the fall of 2011. Its final version was released in April. It includes 56 intersections that will be assessed using manual counts. That information will be supplemented with 51 automatic traffic recorders (ATRs). The manual counts will provide vehicle turning movement volumes, pedestrian crossing volumes and bicycle volumes. The ATRs will provide a continuous count of vehicle volumes over the course of 9 days. The study also includes "travel time runs." They will assess the speed and amount of time it takes for vehicles to travel along Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, 3rd Avenue, and 4th Avenue.


Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

Barclays Not Giving Up on NHL


Today in fantasy hockey...

The sightlines are awful for hockey. A big chunk of Barclays will be empty when the Islanders and Devils play a preseason game on October 2, labor problems permitting. You can't see the goal from seats at one end of arena. So whole sections will be closed off; the seats won't be sold. Still, conditions are so bad at the Islanders current home, Nassau Coliseum, the NHL is seriously considering Brooklyn.

The Post reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman quietly visited the nearly complete arena on Friday to get a tour. Isles owner Charles Wang has already had at least one tour and Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark have spoken with both men and made public pitches about the possibilities every chance they get. The Islanders must play three more seasons in Nassau, which could give Barclays a chance to upgrade for hockey and give the arena more than 14,500 seats.


NoLandGrab: Except the Barclays Center can't "upgrade" to give the arena more seats for hockey, without (a) making the arena markedly worse for basketball or (b) cutting off one wall to stretch the building, which (c) would make the arena markedly worse for basketball and (d) can't be done anyway because (e) they purportedly plan to build additional buildings on the arena block.

Related coverage nonsense...

NY Post, Islanders moving to Brooklyn worth discussing

To be sure, there are roadblocks to consider in moving the Islanders to Brooklyn, the least of which by the way is Barclays Center’s seating capacity of less than 15,000 for hockey, because revenue is about gate receipts, not attendance.

There is the literal issue of roads, limited parking and whether folks from the Island would travel by mass transit to watch a transplanted team or whether the franchise would have to develop a new fan base within the city that has longed pledged its allegiance to the Rangers (as the Nets will do within the boroughs that are betrothed to the Knicks).

But it’s a conversation worth having.

NLG: Actually, no, it's not.

the olde pro, Barclays Center Tour

Most importantly, I got to see the floor with the ice rink in place. Unfortunately they didn't work out the seats situation for an ideal layout when the Islanders move to the city and become the Brooklyn Warriors full-time, but they'll make it work....

NLG: Actually, no, they won't.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Flashback: ESDC attorney once assured court that Forest City have "to bring the Project to completion by 2019, with sanctions imposed for any failure to do so"

Atlantic Yards Report

Way back in January 2010, as the last major Atlantic Yards legal case faced its first hearing, I pointed to a key point of dispute. In retrospect appears to be either a glaring untruth or, more charitably, an incredibly misguided prediction about the state of New York's capacity to negotiate with Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner.

Which is Norman Oder's nice way of saying it's clearly a big, fat lie.

It's worth another look.


Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Yes, They Thought They Could Dance (And Some Could

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

More than 350 women with a bounce in their step tried out on Saturday to be cheerleaders for the Brooklyn Nets — but the vast number went home unhappy.

Most of the former New Jersey team’s current dancers will return when the team begins its first season at the Barclays Center this fall, leaving only a handful of slots for the newcomers.


NoLandGrab: Is it any surprise that there are only a half-dozen or so jobs available?

Related (un)coverage...

NY Daily News, Newser's no match among dance pros

Photo: Kathryn Friedman/The Local

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

June 3, 2012

Around arena, black boxes aim to count vehicles for baseline traffic study

Atlantic Yards Report

Update: I'm told these counters are gone. It's unclear whether they were put up as a test, or will return.

Wondering that the block box is at right, seen at around the Atlantic Yards site at the northeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, the northeast corner of Pacific Street and Sixth, and the southeast side of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth?

It's a vehicle counter, from Miovision, which offers a portable video-based system to provide two typesof traffic studies: standard ones that monitor anonymous traffic movements and also license plate recognition studies.

Surely this is for the former:

Automatically count vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists to collect traffic data for a corridor study, traffic impact study, traffic volume study, amongst other studies.

As city Department of Transportation rep Chris Hrones explained last December, the agency asked Forest City Ratner to gather updated data regarding traffic conditions around the site, a baseline for a post-opening study of traffic conditions, to help guide additional mitigations.


Posted by steve at 10:52 PM

June 2, 2012

Transportation Demand Management documents released: nothing about Wrigley; HOV parking questions; the effectiveness of free MetroCard and other giveaways (that would cost Forest City Ratner) as incentives

Atlantic Yards Report

Late Friday afternoon, some ten days after public meetings regarding the Atlantic Yards Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, the Empire State Development Corporation released documents behind the plan.

It's notable that the draft of the plan, from Sam Schwartz Engineering, rely on best practices from CitiField in Queens, the Prudential Center in Newark, and CenturyLink Field in Seattle, but make no mention of the significant example of Wrigley Field in Chicago, which has been an inspiration for the proposed Neighborhood Protection Plan, which aims to fill in gaps in the TDM plan.

I'll point to a few lingering questions.


Posted by steve at 6:58 PM

Boxer Malignaggi, speaking at Barclays Center, says he's motivated to headline Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

During a "media availability" yesterday at the in-construction Barclays Center, Brooklyn-born welterweight boxer Paulie Malignaggi showed how self-hype continues to be part of the sweet science. As reported by the New York Post:

“When I first met Brett a couple years ago and I signed with Golden Boy a couple years ago, the whole intent was to be the headliner at Barclays Center,” said Malignaggi, who grew up in Bensonhurst.
“It would be amazing, because I don’t think there’s a bigger Brooklyn name fighter than me right now. Obviously Brooklyn has a long history of great fighters, but I think right now the biggest name fighter in Brooklyn is Paulie Malignaggi, so I think it makes total and complete sense to have me be the headliner in October.”


Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Bensonhurst boxer wants to face Flatbush fighter at new arena

[Welterweight contender Dmitriy "Kid Kosher"] Salita has already announced that he wants a shot at Malignaggi’s belt, and agreed that the fight would electrify their favorite borough.

“It would go beyond the world of boxing, it would be a legendary event,” said Salita.

Posted by steve at 6:56 PM

Journalists talk shop: the Times's selective attention, the Observer's mandate to be "less wonky," and the fuzziness of a Post reporter on Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

The Architects' Newspaper reports on a panel discussion regarding coverage of architecture, development, and the media.

A couple of comments were particularly intriguing. I've bolded the questions, as appearing in the transcript, and appended my reactions.

How much interest in, and knowledge of, architecture do you assume there is among your readers?

Robin Pogrebin, culture reporter at The New York Times:

I get pitched in 100 to 200 emails a day; and I feel terrible about what might be falling through the cracks. I know the bar has become somewhat higher in terms of what we write about. Why should we write about this one? That is a hard question to answer. Ideally, it is a story that has larger implications beyond just the project itself: something about it represents a trend; or there’s a controversy about it (for better or worse); or a window into architecture through another route, say, the controversy about naming of Miami Art Museum.

Pogrebin writes for the culture desk, not the Metro section, but I suspect some of the same rationale goes into coverage--and not--of large projects like Atlantic Yards. The Times does not feel compelled to cover it steadily--witness the non-coverage of the Neighborhood Protection Plan--which means understanding diminishes.

Are you pressured to cover subjects, or projects?

Matt Chaban, real estate editor and reporter at The New York Observer:

I have been told to be less wonky. I have been told to stop invoking Robert Moses. We write almost not at all about architecture except in terms of development; we do a lot of residential real estate and industry types fighting each other. I have been asked to profile architects—for example Tod Williams and Billie Tsien because of the Barnes Museum opening—but that goes in the culture section. It’s not considered hard news.

Less wonky? That's too bad.

Because only a semi-sophisticated understanding of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs would lead reporters not to swallow an unsupportable statement like City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden's claim, in the New York Times, that the Bloomberg administration blends the two.


Posted by steve at 6:52 PM

June 1, 2012

From Atlantic Yards Watch: blocking the curb at Pacific Street; dump trucks on Bergen Street; tractors on Dean Street

Atlantic Yards Watch

When the NYPD sets such a fine example, this is what we get.

Why's there a need for a Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan, to discourage driving, add signage, and beef up sanitation and traffic enforcement, among other things?

Because the arena's encroaching on a residential neighborhood, and violations of construction rules and local laws continue to take their toll on the streets around the Atlantic Yards site.

From Atlantic Yards Watch: Contractors and workers at the Atlantic Yards site continue to park on the sidewalk at Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue, increasing danger to pedestrians and even damaging the curb. The blue pickup truck, according to AY Watch, is owned by The Laquila Group.


Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

When police parking shifts to Bergen Street, the sidewalks get blocked

Atlantic Yards Report

The loss of parking on Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, and in the adjacent lot that is to become the satellite uplink parking lot, along with the general desire for police at the 78th precinct to park their vehicles near the stationhouse at Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue, has led to to the situation pictured below.

Police vehicles are now parked on the sidewalk on Bergen Street directly in front of the south entrances to the Dean Street playground.

This is one block south and (about) a third of a long block east of the arena site.

As the pictures, contributed by a community member, show, those with carriages and walkers face hazardous situations. Even before the arena construction began, police used sidewalks along Sixth Avenue to park their vehicles.

Now the ecosystem is ever more delicate. It's another argument for taking seriously the proposed Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan, which asks policymakers to look at the examples of sports facilities in residential neighborhoods, notably Wrigley Field in Chicago, as models.


NoLandGrab: "Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect?"

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

Where do the Nets go from here?

ESPN New York
by Mike Mazzeo

One would think that a team that's been as bad as the Nets the past few years would have no place to go but up. Think again.

The Hornets were the big winners in the NBA draft lottery, landing the No. 1 pick, which is expected to be Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.

The Nets, on the other hand, were the biggest losers. They only had a 25 percent chance of keeping their top-3 protected first rounder. The ping-pong balls didn’t bounce their way.

Many question marks still remain as the franchise heads to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center.

So now what?

The Nets have the No. 57 pick in the second round of the draft and four players guaranteed to be under contract for 2012-13: Anthony Morrow, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Williams and Johan Petro.

It looks like the makings of an expansion team, doesn’t it?


Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

Warriors' owners scout arena ideas in New York

San Francisco Chronicle
by Rusty Simmons

Be afraid, San Francisco. Be very afraid.

This week's visit to New York wasn't just good for [Golden State Warriors' co-owner Joe] Lacob's ego. The lottery trip was also a chance for Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber to tour the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, talk about the renovations at New York City's Madison Square Garden and continue to work on their vision for their own state-of-the-art arena on the San Francisco waterfront.

The Warriors are planning a privately financed arena on Piers 30 and 32, with adjacent retail and restaurant space, to open for the 2017-18 NBA season. The project is expected to cost nearly $1 billion, including construction, refurbishment of the piers and possible bond payments in Oakland.

Here's betting that "privately financed" means that the taxpayers kick in about $700 million of the final total.

They learned quite a bit, and had their opinions, about the New York arenas, too. The Barclays Center is being built on a platform that is triangulated by three busy streets, making traffic and parking a potential mess.

The Warriors could have similar problems, but Lacob said he's hoping to secure more acreage that could be used for parking in San Francisco.

Because building more parking means less traffic? If you build it, they will drive.

[Lacob] even joked with a Nets executive that the Warriors might hire renowned architect Frank Gehry, who originally designed a $1 billion version of the Barclays Center.


Posted by eric at 9:43 AM

The Day: The New Signs of the Times

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

More like a sign of the apocalypse.

Our eagle-eyed scribe Erin Horan spotted new signs in the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station, alerting riders to what has long been promised, but slow to roll out: The station is now officially “Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center.” The name change will take some getting used to, but Barclays Center supporters say that having the name of the arena in the station itself will encourage more mass transit use.


NoLandGrab: No, disincentivizing car travel will encourage more mass transit use.

Photo: Erin Horan

Posted by eric at 9:35 AM