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August 31, 2012

Expunging Pacific Street from station? It wasn't announced or even in the contract, but the MTA says it was the practical solution; also, new signage wasn't supposed to go up until the subway entrance opened

Atlantic Yards Report

As former Atlantic Yards point man Jim Stuckey once said, "Projects change, markets change."

Or, perhaps, subway naming plans change.

There's a certain resentment about the substitution of "Barclays Center" for "Pacific Street" in the renaming of Brooklyn's most diverse transit hub.

That's indicated in the "I'm still calling it "Atlantic Av-Pacific St" t-shirt produced by designer Deb Goldstein (interview), highlighted in a series of articles in MetroFocus about different ways to wear Brooklyn pride, including Nets t-shirts.

The MTA today not implausibly suggests that the use of two rather than three names is more efficient.


Posted by eric at 9:33 AM

Barclays executives remain 'very interested' in possible relocation of Islanders

by Steve Zipay

Here's today's fantasy-hockey installment.

With little marketing, Barclays Center in Brooklyn has sold more than 7,000 tickets -- about half the seating capacity for hockey -- for a preseason game between the Islanders and Devils, scheduled for Oct. 2.

"And we really haven't started promoting it yet," Barclays chief executive Brett Yormark told Newsday Thursday. "Right now, we're focusing on getting the building open for events."

Yormark said Barclays executives "remain very interested" in a possible relocation of the Islanders to Brooklyn in 2015 if no deal is reached to remain in Nassau. "Discussions are continuing, although the goal at this point is to work with what we have on our schedule," he said.


Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

Barclays Center will have 1 am last call

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

Spectators and club-goers at the soon-to-open Barclays Center won’t be able to score booze after 1 am thanks to a state decision that residents are calling a small win for the neighborhood.

A very small win.

Vendors at the 18,000-seat stadium must stop selling alcohol prior to the fourth quarter of basketball games, one hour before concerts end — and no later than 1 am if any event runs that late, the State Liquor Authority ruled on Wednesday.

The 1 am rule is roughly three and a half hours later than the cut-off Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is comparable to Barclays Center because of its size and proximity to residential streets.

That’s part of the reason some arena neighbors say the serving times must be scaled back further.

“I’d like to see it much earlier,” said Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association. “These streets are not designed to withstand noise and crowds.”


Related coverage...

NY1, Barclays Center Allowed To Serve Liquor Until 1 A.M.; Rolling Stones To Reportedly Play

Posted by eric at 9:22 AM

Report: Rolling Stones Will Play Barclays

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

The Rolling Stones are headed to the Barclays Center for a two-show stint in November, Billboard reports. The music publication, citing an unidentified source, said Mick, Keith and Co. will celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary with two performances each in Brooklyn and London for a $25 million payday.

While there hasn’t been an official announcement, the Stones would join a growing list of major acts set to play the soon-to-open arena – a lineup that includes Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, The Who, Justin Bieber and Barbra Streisand.


Posted by eric at 9:18 AM

August 30, 2012

T-Shirt Designer on the Rough Edges of Brooklyn Development

Metro Focus [Thirteen.org]
by Toby Milstein

Deb Goldstein, 40, of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is the witty designer behind MissWit. Her t-shirt company unwittingly got its start when the shirt she made for some friends, simply stating, “And I want to thank Harvey Weinstein,” was displayed in the window of a Brooklyn store in 2003.

Goldstein also happens to be the sister of Daniel Goldstein, who founded the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn campaign against the Atlantic Yards project that built the Barclays Center that is the new home to the Brooklyn Nets. Goldstein lost his own home to the development’s eminent domain claims. One of MissWit’s latest creations is “I’m still calling it Atlantic Av – Pacific St,” an obvious takedown of the transit hub’s newly minted name, Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center.

Q: What are your thoughts about the Brooklyn Nets shirts?

A: That’s one Brooklyn design that I do actually have an opinion on. I understand why people have it. I get this idea that it’s exciting that there’s going to be a team about Brooklyn. I certainly don’t begrudge anybody who is wearing it. I think that most people who are wearing it were not involved, might not live right nearby [the Barclays Center] and don’t really know what it took to get there. I think it’s a terrible design but it doesn’t drive me crazy. Seeing the arena and the mess in that area makes me crazy.


NoLandGrab: Get your "I'm still calling it Atlantic Av—Pacific St" t-shirt today.

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

Wearing Brooklyn Pride

‘I’m Still Calling it Atlantic Av – Pacific St’

Metro Focus [Thirteen.org]
by Christina Knight

Brooklyn residents wearing the “I’m still calling it Atlantic Av – Pacific St” shirt, left to right: Lara Ewan and Kevin M. Thomas, 58. Photos left to right by Robyn Shepherd and Kevin M. Thomas.

Lara Ewan, musician and Brooklyn resident

Q:Where did you get that shirt? What does it mean?
A: I got this shirt from Deb (the designer) when I met her at Freddy’s on Fifth Avenue. The phrase on the front is a reference to the name change of the Atlantic/Pacific subway stop. They’re changing the name to Barclays Center, and frankly, I don’t know anyone in Brooklyn who’s in support of that center or the name change.

Kevin M. Thomas, photographer and resident of Park Slope/Gowanus

Q:Where did you get that shirt? What does it mean?
A: I got it as a token of my support for those who are trying to bring about sane development. Ramming the stadium through at the behest of the oligopolist Ratner, well, that bugged me, a lot.


Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

NYC’s Oldest Sports Retailer & Newest Team Play Off Each Other

Metro Focus [Thirteen.org]
by Christina Knight

Brooklyn’s new team, the Brooklyn Nets, unveiled their Jay-Z designed logo and merchandise not at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, but at a true New York retailer on an avenue better known as a traffic artery than a shopping strip. The roots of Modell’s Sporting Goods store at 140 Flatbush Avenue go back to 1889, when the family-owned sporting goods retailer was founded on Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan. The profile of this particular location has skyrocketed with the building of the Nets’ new home — the Barclays Center — directly across Flatbush Avenue.

Since that day, business has boomed for the Park Slope retailer. According to store manager Nick Chang, the store sold out of 80 percent of its Brooklyn Nets stock that day and scrambled to receive more merchandise from its other Brooklyn and Manhattan locations.

Sales have been good ever since.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, "Blighted" Modell's store is doing just fine, thanks to arena proximity

Would you believe that a "blighted" property is now doing well, as the Modell's across from the Barclays Center is getting renovated rather than razed?

According to the July Atlantic Yards 2006 Blight Study conducted for the Empire State Development Corporation, both the Modell's store and its neighbor, P.C. Richard, are blighted because they're too small and occupy a block long designated for redevelopment as part of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area (ATURA).

Now that the market is different, presumably a rezoning could have done the trick, as well. Instead, the state overrode zoning so Forest City Ratner can build a tower--once 40 stories, now 25 stories--at the site. There's no plan yet to build it.

Metro Focus [Thirteen.org], Wearing Brooklyn Pride: A New Look in Town: Brooklyn Nets

Justin, 13, Manhattan resident [right]

Q:Why are you wearing that shirt?
A: ‘Cause it’s cool and I like the colors.
Q: Do you like the team?
A: (Shrugs). I’m a Knicks fan.
Q: How would you rate Brooklyn on a scale of 1 to 10?
A: (Another shrug). I don’t go there a lot.

Photo: MetroFocus/Christina Knight

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

Secondhand coverage of arena liquor license gets much wrong; Times wrongly claims MSG/Yankee Stadium have similar policies, cites "opponents" while Forest City calls them "neighbors"

Atlantic Yards Report

No other reporters bothered to show up at the State Liquor Authority meeting yesterday that included the Barclays Center liquor license, nor did they apparently watch the webcast, because the coverage is devoid of any quotes from the meeting or any sense why arena operators resisted--though assented to--a final cut-off of liquor sales at 1 am.

Nor did any of the coverage acknowledge the feeling of bad faith generated by the arena operators' failure to disclose the plan for after-hours service or the continuing construction violations.

The Times, perhaps relying on a clip file that claimed "die-hard opponents are still resisting [and trying to] block the arena from speedily receiving a liquor license," reported:

Additionally, opponents of the project have been complaining of an increase in the number of surrounding businesses seeking liquor licenses, which they fear will entice people leaving events at the arena to linger in the area and continue to imbibe.

Forest City Ratner, the developer for the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site that includes the Barclays Center, has played down those concerns. “Community boards and nearby residents are concerned that people could be rowdy or noisy,” Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City, said. “Obviously there are strict rules in place in terms of drinking.” The staff, he said, is trained not to serve alcohol to anyone who appears to have too much. “We want a policy that is courteous to our neighbors,” he added.

There you have it, folks. The official Forest City Ratner spokesman says "Community boards and nearby residents" and "neighbors," while the Times deems them "opponents."


Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

Some Neighbors of the Nets Worry About Drinking Hours That Last Longer Than the Game

The New York Times
by Aaron Edwards

The moment comes during the seventh inning of a Yankees game, immediately after halftime at MetLife Stadium and, for Knicks fans, after the third quarter. For many patrons sitting in the stands and bleachers, drinks stop flowing.

Toward the end of any sporting event in New York City, game sites stop selling alcohol to the majority of patrons. But the alcohol sale policy at several high-end establishments connected to the newly constructed Barclays Center arena, the new home to the Brooklyn Nets, has community members and local officials worried about what could happen when premium ticket holders are allowed to continue drinking long past the final buzzer.

The State Liquor Authority on Wednesday ruled to allow the center to sell alcohol at its premium bars for an hour after events finish, or a cutoff of 1 a.m. The center, which has several exclusive establishments and features — including the 40/40 Club, which is owned by Jay-Z, and an Armand de Brignac Champagne Bar — had been seeking permission to serve alcohol until as late as 2 a.m. During games, alcohol will be cut off in the arena after the third quarter.


Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Basketbooze! Nets fans at Barclays Center can down shots later (1 a.m.) than MSG folks

Only if a basketball game goes into quintuple overtime. The 1 a.m. cut-off will factor more for events like concerts, rather than basketball games, which rarely end later than 11 p.m.

Park Slope Patch, Barclays Center's Liquor License Approved

Gothamist, Barclays Center Scores Liquor License With 1 A.M. Curfew For VIPs

NY Post, Stones to play B’klyn

The Rolling Stones will reportedly play two shows at the Barclays Center in November.

The legendary rockers, who have been rehearsing for possible 50th-anniversary shows, will receive $25 million for the gigs, as well as two shows in London, Billboard reported yesterday.

Exact dates and ticket prices were not reported.

NoLandGrab: Wonder if they'll play Symapthy for the Ratner?

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

Barclays Center Update

From Russia With Dunk
by Jonah Mars

And this from someone ostensibly all in.

Once I found my way out of the station and saw the Barclays Center, I was almost in shock. I knew it was going to be a very large structure, but it looks even bigger compared to the size of the buildings around it. Aside from the Barclays Center, it looks like any other residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. You can walk two blocks in any direction and not know that you were close to an 18,000 seat arena. I circled the arena once, but was obviously unable to get inside the construction area to get a look at the inside of the arena. When you see the Barclays Center for the first time, you will know what I mean when I say that I was surprised at how big it was.


Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

Jay-Z: the “million” problem

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

The interest by Jay-Z in the Nets dates back at least to November 2003, according to my story archives, and likely goes back up to six months before that.

And for most of that time, the rap mogul has been described as a “part-owner” of the [now Brooklyn] Nets.

I’d already known that the Nets actually have more than 100 owners, and that most of them own just a tiny sliver. I suspected the same was true of Jay-Z, perhaps 1 percent or so.

Yet for me, a core question remains – if Jay-Z really did pay $1 million for a share that now amounts to one-15th of one percent, why did he?

Perhaps Jay-Z wasn’t as shrewd back in 2003, although he was a huge star by the late 1990s.

But I’d still love to see a copy of that million-dollar check. Just saying.


Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

August 29, 2012

State Liquor Authority approves Barclays Center liquor license, but nudges back cut-off to 1 am from 2 am; may revisit issue if operators claim hardship; neighbors see small victory

Atlantic Yards Report

In less than an hour, the State Liquor Authority this morning approved the Barclays Center liquor license--for 53 outlets--as requested, except for one key change arena operators resisted but to which they eventually relented.

They had requested a cut-off of alcohol sales to 1,800 VIP customers to go one hour after an event, or as late as 2 am, an absolute deadline requested by Brooklyn Community Board 6. The SLA imposed a 1 am cut-off, subject to revision should the arena argue hardship (in getting some promoters to commit to shows), and subject to the arena demonstrating a track record of operating compatibly with the community.

Arena operators initially resisted the change, but agreed reluctantly. Arena neighbors saw it as a small victory, a recognition of the unusual placement of the arena in a residential neighborhood.

"It was good to see the board paid attention to the concerns the community raised," Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) said after the meeting. "I think it was positive that they are intending to get community input if there's any further changes."

Still, he said, a cut-off closer to 10 pm was what many neighbors sought, and "we'll continue to keep a close eye" on arena operations.


Posted by eric at 2:41 PM

Lawsuit seeking unpaid wages for BUILD trainees could expand, as plaintiffs' lawyers get OK to contact other 29 trainees

Atlantic Yards Report

The number of potential plaintiffs could grow in the lawsuit against Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) and others for failure to pay trainees for roughly two months of work they did helping build a house on Staten Island.

Seven of the 36 people in a coveted Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program filed suit last November in federal charging not only violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act but also that they were promised union cards and careers.

The suit not only targets BUILD but Forest City Ratner, which supported the organization, a Community Benefits Agreement signatory, as well as individual executives, along with the company that did the training.

The lawsuit, though the charges were narrowed, survived a motion to dismiss. Now the plaintiffs can try to add some of the other 29 people from the program, but only for the claim of unpaid wages, not damages for the promised union cards.


Posted by eric at 2:09 PM

Realignment of police precincts means less role for two Community Council Presidents who head Forest City Ratner-supported CBA groups

Atlantic Yards Report

Though no one's said this publicly, it seems to me that the announcement that the 78th Precinct will oversee the Barclays Center arena and the rest of the Atlantic Yards site suggests that not only will the two precincts previously having a piece of the site (77th, 88th) have less of a role, so two will the presidents of the precinct Community Councils.

And those two presidents have offered Forest City Ratner significant legitimacy over the years, transposing the credibility they gained in neighborhood service to fledgling organizations, known by the acronyms BUILD and BEE, that signed the "historic" Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) and then were financially supported by the developer.

(By contrast, Pauline Blake, president of the 78th Community Council and a member of Community Board 6, has not been an active Atlantic Yards opponent, but she has questioned the impact of the project on the surrounding neighborhood.)


Delia Hunley-Adossa, president of the 88th Precinct Community Council, also heads Brooklyn Endeavor Experience (BEE), the renamed First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee, and ran for City Council in 2009.

Though BEE is ostensibly in charge of environmental assurances for the CBA, it has ignored community concerns--as related in a recent report--and done nothing publicly regarding Atlantic Yards other than to serve as a cheerleader.


James Caldwell heads the 77th Precinct Community Council, a community base that led to his role in Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), a jobs advocacy group, and his eventual presidency, despite no particular background in that field.

Caldwell has been a fervent advocate for Atlantic Yards, calling developer Bruce Ratner, more than once, "like an angel sent by God."


Posted by eric at 2:02 PM

The Nets’ Billion-Dollar New Arena Is Coated With Rusty Metal, And It’s Ugly

by Glenn Davis

The Barclays Center, home-to-be of the Brooklyn Nets, was a controversial building before it even was a building. That’s because it was a centerpiece of the controversial Atlantic Yards project, which involved developer/former Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner getting New York State to condemn several acres’ worth of (occupied) Brooklyn real estate so he could develop it for his own purposes – including building the Barclays Center, and relocating the Nets from New Jersey to play in it.

But just because the Barclays Center is allowed to exist does’t mean the controversy surrounding the building itself is over. No, now that it’s up, people are starting to ask the question: why’s it all rusted?

I’m not an architect, granted. But come on: that looks like shit.


Related coverage...

Field of Schemes, Nets arena’s rusted steel facade could crumble, drip orange goo everywhere

Of course, it’s also butt-ugly — one Deadspin commenter calls the arena’s look “a giant, Brutalist version of a novelty dog turd.” And as the Times acknowledges, it has a tendency to drip orange rust all over the sidewalk. No wonder everybody wants to buy property near there!

You’d almost think that this whole rusted-steel look was thrown together over a holiday weekend because the previous designs were either too expensive or critically panned. Nah, that could never happen.

Bleacher Report, Barclays Center Rust: Rounding Up Reactions to Brooklyn Nets' Rustic Arena

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], What Do You Think of the Barclays Center’s Rusty Facade?

Posted by eric at 1:52 PM

Flashback: at a funeral, the intersection of Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez

Atlantic Yards Report

A 7/22/12 essay from Paul Berman in Dissent, Regular Politics: Judge Reichbach, contains cameos for both Bruce Ratner and Vito Lopez, both typically in the news for other reasons:

On Saturday, July 14, a New York State Supreme Court judge named Gustin L. Reichbach succumbed to cancer. On Sunday his funeral service took place at a synagogue in Brooklyn Heights. And the first and most eloquent of the speakers to address the mourners was a politician named Vito Lopez, who holds the office of New York State Assemblyman from Bushwick, Brooklyn, and the still more exalted office of chairman of the Democratic Party of Kings County, otherwise known as Brooklyn Democratic boss, whose powers are myriad, vast, and rooted in affairs so profoundly local as to be incomprehensible. The boss is known, for instance, to influence the election of minor officials called District Leaders, who are unpaid yet nonetheless have the power to select the modestly paid workers who supervise the voting on Election Day. And God knows what happens next, except that everyone recognizes that, when the Brooklyn Democratic boss presides over a nonprofit organization, the state and municipal contracts descending upon the organization tend to be profitable indeed, even if the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council is currently under investigation. And still larger contracts come into play. The very skyline is at stake. And, lo, prominently mentioned at Gus Reichbach’s funeral was a man named Bruce Ratner, who, in the Brooklyn of our time, is widely known—reviled!—as the preeminent developer, the destroyer of Brooklyn’s antique charm (as per his detractors), or else the creator of jobs (as per his admirers) and the benefactor of basketball (objectively true). And, to be sure, Bruce Ratner turns out to have been a law school roommate of Gustin L. Reichbach. And Lopez made a point in his funeral oration of invoking Bruce Ratner’s influence in the most affectionate of terms, and the name of George Pataki, the former Republican governor of New York, came up, whom Bruce Ratner evidently lobbied on behalf of the judicial career of Gus Reichbach, and no name was left unsaid.


Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

In Metro, special section "in association with Barclays Center" sure looks like advertorial

Atlantic Yards Report

Who needs a fake newspaper when a (semi-)real newspaper will do the job for you?

I called Metro to ask whether in fact the Barclays Center sponsored the four-page coverage. (Note that the arena will not look like that because 1) the towers haven't been built and 2) the building is way larger than that, unless you're in a hovercraft with special spectacles.)

I haven't gotten a confirmation, but on the fifth page, you see, there's this ad. (Update: the one article published online later added this explanation: This article is part of a sponsored special section Metro ran on Tuesday, Aug. 28 about the Barclays Center.)

Wouldja believe that Metro quoted two people on the street, and both are excited about the arena because 1) they can walk to the arena and 2) "live sports bring such an infectious energy and cameraderie"?

Paul Zumoff is quoted in the article at bottom as saying the arena would "add value to the arena." Could he be the same Paul Zumoff who works as a real estate broker?


Related content...

Metro, One month until Barclays Center opens on Sept. 28

"There were a lot of challenges along the way," Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, told Metro. "The economy, ongoing litigation that existed here in Brooklyn for the project, the NBA lockout and an eroding fan base in New Jersey all worked against us."

"But at the end of the day, we overcame," he said. "It was Bruce Ratner’s vision that kept us all going."

NoLandGrab: Oh, please.

Posted by eric at 1:15 PM

Jay-Z Didn’t Want People Knowing Just How Little Of The Nets He Actually Owns

by Barry Petchesky

The Times had a fascinating little story a couple of weeks ago, about Jay-Z's outsized involvement with the Nets, considering his scant ownership stake.

Among the nuggets revealed: his $1 million investment amounts to just one-fifteenth of one percent of the franchise, someone at the NBA didn't think the Nets' black jerseys would look good on black people, and the sheer amount of synergy Jay-Z is getting out of this deal—the Barclays Center will have a Rocawear store, a 40/40 Club, and a champagne bar that sells his uber-expensive Armand de Brignac line. But here's the most fascinating thing: Jay-Z gave zero cooperation to the Times story. This was "Shawn Carter Has a Cold."

The story, then, is a classic write-around of the sort that's probably stronger for having kept its subject at arm's length. Halbfinger didn't have to dance around the issues that might have soured access. Instead, he spoke with Brett Yormark, Bruce Ratner, Billy King, and others from the ranks of the NBA offices, sports agents, and the music industry. As a consequence, he was able to raise thorny questions like whether Jay-Z's various businesses got sweetheart deals to be associated with the Nets, and if Jay-Z stopped attending Nets games during losing seasons specifically to protect his own brand. (Halbfinger makes clear he believes the answer to both questions is yes, even if he couldn't come out and say it in the Times.)


Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

Getting Barclays to a Billion

by Bob Windrem

Off and on, the Nets have promoted Barclays Center as a "billion dollar arena", most recently in a Tuesday report in Metro New York. On occasion, they've called it the "first billion dollar arena". Bruce Ratner has said that with "everything", the cost is indeed a billion. So what goes into a billion dollar arena?


NoLandGrab: Imagine how much it would've cost if they'd opted for the "not hideous" finish.

Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Everyone's a Critic: Speaking Out About the Barclays Center

by Sara Polsky

People like to talk about the Barclays Center—even the Times is talking about its weathering steel right now—so Curbed video editor David Sherwin and intern Rob Aquino took to the streets of Brooklyn to get regular folks' opinions on the structure.


Related coverage...

The Score, Is this the ugliest billion-dollar stadium you have ever seen?

We're hardly the world’s foremost authorities on architecture but there’s something about the Barclays Center, soon-to-be home of the Brooklyn Nets, that’s a little bit… well, ugly.

Business Insider, Why Half Of Brooklyn Hates The New Barclay's Center Stadium

This fall, the Nets will call the billion-dollar Barclays center home and Brooklyn will have a pro sports team for the first time since 1957. Basketball fever is abuzz in the borough, but not all Brooklynites are thrilled about how the behemoth structure is going to change the landscape and skyline across the East River.

Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Details on Not-So-Affordable Atlantic Yards Apartments


Atlantic Yards Report writer Norman Oder reported in The Brooklyn Bureau that the first Atlantic Yards tower, on which work is scheduled to start this fall, will contain fewer family-sized units than promised and will be “disproportionately geared to middle-class families” with rents coming in at more than $2,700 a month.


Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

Thug threatens woman in G train station

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg


A crook stole from a woman’s purse at the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Aug. 24.

The 19-year-old victim told cops she was at the Marshalls in the plaza at 9:45 pm when she left her purse in her shopping cart. When she returned five minutes later, her Ukranian driver’s license, debit card, MetroCard, and some cash were gone.

Stone cold

A crook stole a woman’s wallet in an ice cream store in the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Aug. 26.

The 28-year-old victim told cops she was at the Cold Stone Creamery in the Flatbush Avenue mall at 2:15 pm when her wallet disappeared from her baby’s carriage.


Posted by eric at 12:25 PM

August 28, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: arena moves toward Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (thanks to three shifts of work)

Atlantic Yards Report

The key information from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 8/27/12 and issued yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by Forest City Ratner) is the move toward a needed TCO, or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, which is supposed to be achieved by 9/5/12.

According to the document (embedded below), it looks like they're on schedule:

The NYC DOB [Department of Buildings) performed the first and preliminary TCO walk-though of the facility on 08/20/12. The second is scheduled for 08/27/12, and the final on 09/04/12. The FDNY started the fire alarm and fire protection inspections on 08/21/12 and will continue through the week of 08/21/12, returning three days for the final inspections the week of 08/27/12.

A TCO indicates that a building is safe to occupy and can get insurance; the document typically expires in 90 days but can be renewed.

The Construction Alert details progress in various areas, as well as the need for overnight shifts, and jackhammers, to get all the work done.


Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

Yes, The New Brooklyn Nets Arena Is Deliberately Covered With Rust. No, It’s Not A Good Idea.

by Jack Dickey

But when used on something more complicated and functional—such as a sports arena—this simple, natural material is incredibly finicky and unstable. Where the steel is welded together or there's space to catch water, the protective rust has a way of turning into regular old destructive rust. Atlanta's Omni Coliseum, which opened in October 1972, had a weathering steel frame. The structure never stopped rusting, the elements bored holes in the roof, and the city had to replace the building with Philips Arena 25 years later.

Things were even worse at the New Haven Coliseum, which opened in September 1972. I got to see it from the inside in 2001, because my youth hockey team was practicing there. That's how bad it had gotten. Within a little more than a decade of its opening, the steel in the parking garage had rusted to the extent that the concrete it supported would crumble and fall on the street below. The rusty runoff also stained the glowing logos on the building's front, the ones you could see from Route 34.

By 2002, the building—which had once hosted AHL teams, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Queen, Van Halen, WWE, and scores of other superlative guests—was closed.

There are troubled non-arenas too. Pittsburgh's U.S. Steel Tower, which opened in 1970, was built to showcase the stuff. It turned all the surrounding sidewalks (and a few neighboring structures) brown. The company tried power-washing the stuff off, but they couldn't make it all go away. A large, complicated public sculpture from 1967 was crumbling by 1991.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, AY down the memory hole: emergency upgrade on Barclays Center facade treated in Times as "more traditional materials were rejected"

The New York Times reported, in Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty:

For the facade of the Barclays Center, more traditional materials were rejected in favor of 12,000 separate pieces of what is called “weathering steel,” and that leathery brown hue, which is the arena’s final finish, is not paint but an intended layer of rust.

It was a little more complicated than that. After Forest City Ratner dropped Frank Gehry's design to save money, it essentially plunked the Conseco Fieldhouse from Indianapolis, designed by veteran arena architects Ellerbe Becket, into Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 9:01 AM

Hoops outranking Jobs, Housing at Atlantic Yards so far in Brooklyn

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

So on the one hand, one shouldn’t be too surprised that current affordable housing projections have been greatly scaled back. Oder’s research indicates that as of Nov. 2011, only 20 of the 175 subsidized units in a 363-unit first tower (whose construction could be underway by the end of the year) were planned to have more than one bedroom – a far cry from half. After negotiations with city and state officials, a total of 36 subsdized units were worked out to be two bedrooms in the first tower.

But just nine of the 363 total units would be two-bedroom, low-income (rents of $835 per month), Oder found, 10 more two bedroom-units would be for moderate income and middle income households – and 17 of the 36 of the total affordable two-bedroom units will feature rents of more than $2,700 (and perhaps nearly $3,000) per month. The latter are designed for families of three making a total of roughly $100,000 to $120,000 – not a princely sum in New York City, but not quite as “affordable” as some would describe the word.

To be fair, it is true that about half (now 181) of the 363 units do fall into the subsidized category, so the 50 percent figure is basically met – when one includes the 90 one-bedroom units and 65 studio apartments.

But that mix didn’t exactly seem to be what those passionate supporters – many of them parents – had in mind dating back to those 2005-09 meetings.


Posted by eric at 8:56 AM

Barclays center

Gna Galisem

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NoLandGrab: Are you really going to trust your car to someone who calls it the "Barklays center Stadium?"

Posted by eric at 8:51 AM

August 27, 2012

No time slot announced for liquor license board meeting Wednesday, but public can speak

Atlantic Yards Report

Will the State Liquor Authority (SLA) issue any curbs on the Barclays Center liquor license, such as not permitting service for VIPs at three venues for an hour after events, including until 2 am?

(There will be a total of 30 bars with full liquor service and 23 with beer only.)

After an administrative law judge heard public testimony at two meetings in June, the SLA will consider the Barclays Center liquor license at its August 29 board meeting. It will be held at SLA offices in Harlem, beginning at 10 am, and should be webcast.

There's no timetable for the meeting; items are called in the order for which they are signed in. My bet is that the applicants, Levy Premium Food Service and Brooklyn Events Center, will do their best to get there early.

The report compiled by Administrative Law Judge Raymond Di Luglio has not been made public and likely will not be released until the SLA renders its decision.

"Members of the public and elected officials will have the opportunity to address the Board," SLA spokesman Bill Crowley said yesterday.


Posted by eric at 9:11 PM

Barclays Facade Not Winning Over Neighbors, Also May Drip On You

Passersby believe the facade looks unfinished, and a closer look at other buildings that utilize weathered steel shows some instances of rust drippage.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

The rusty finish of the Barclays Center façade may have its fans in the architecture and design world, but neighbors wonder if the aesthetics may be lacking, says the New York Times.

Passersby interviewed for the paper about the façade thought it looked unfinished, with one man believing that it was going to be painted over.

In fact, a Patch poll from March found that 66 percent of readers thought the arena was an eyesore, with only 30 percent thinking the façade looked “21st century,” and three percent not sure.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Barclays Center's rusted steel cladding draws mixed reactions, but that's just a partial way to evaluate arena (what about urbanism, and the project's promises?)

And one [commenter] takes aim at the Times's casual summary that, "After years of building, and even more years of bickering, the arena is almost finished":

Years of bickering? When you write promotional material for Bruce Ratner (where are the jobs, Bruce, and the affordable housing?), which highlights the virtues of rusting iron, at least have the decency to describe the years of community oppostion and lawsuits - the human element - as civic protest, not bickering. Why the Times chooses to write about rust, and not the impact of Bruce's ripoff on Brooklyn, is the real story here. A sad state of affairs.

I tried to post a comment pointing to my coverage of affordable housing today, but it hasn't been posted. (Somehow I haven't had any luck at all in the past week or so posting comments at the Times. Almost enough to make one a little paranoid.)

Posted by eric at 9:04 PM

Agency, Developer Wrestle Over Atlantic Yards Affordability

Documents reveal tense negotiations between city housing officials and Forest City Ratner over the kind of affordable housing the first Atlantic Yards residential tower will provide. Turns out it's different from what the developer promised.

City Limits
by Norman Oder

Different from what Bruce Ratner promised? Shocker!

The much-delayed first housing tower at Forest City Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards complex in Brooklyn, where half the 363 units have long been promised for "affordable housing," seems poised to get millions in city housing bonds.

While this 32-story building—on which Forest City aims to break ground this fall—would broad-ly meet the pledge the developer signed with housing advocacy group ACORN to ensure that 50 percent of the rentals be subsidized, it otherwise diverges from that promise. Not only would it contain far fewer family-sized units than pledged, those two-bedroom, two-bath units will be disproportionately geared to middle-class families, not low-income ones, with rents more than $2,700 a month.

It also differs from what city housing officials aim for in mixed-income affordable housing financing, as well as what Forest City proposed in previous underwriting submissions to housing officials.

Documents unearthed via the Freedom of Information Law, and further queries, show that only nine of the 35 subsidized two-bedroom units would go to households currently earning less than $35,856 for a family of three (with rents at $835 monthly), while 17 would be reserved for the highest affordable income "band," those earning 140-160 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or between $104,580 and $119,520 for a family of three.

The documents also reveal that the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) protested Forest City's initial plans for Tower 2, saying there were too few family-sized units.

HDC's counterproposal did not hold Forest City to its promised goal that 50 percent of the affordable apartments, in terms of floor area, be devoted to two- and three-bedroom units. But Forest City insisted on modifying the deal further, and HDC mostly relented.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From City Limits: How the first Atlantic Yards tower got more $2,700/mo. subsidized apartments (but nobody told the public)

Though no one said so publicly at the one public hearing regarding the tower, not only does the number of family-sized units fall behind Forest City's promises in the Housing Memorandum of Understanding and Community Benefits Agreement that 50% of the units, in square footage, be two- or three-bedroom apartments.

Also, the only way the total (20% of subsidized units) was achieved was to skew the units toward households earning six figures.

The documentation I discovered, via Freedom of Information Law request to the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC), offers insight into the otherwise oblique public comments by Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall last March at a meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet.

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

The Appraisal: Constructing a Facade Both Rugged and Rusty

The New York Times
by Elizabeth A. Harris

After years of building, and even more years of bickering, the arena is almost finished — but this is not immediately obvious to all those who wander by.

“Is it meant to be that way, with the rust?” one woman asked, squinting at the steel.

“I thought they were going to paint it,” said a man who stopped to stare.

No, they are not. For the facade of the Barclays Center, more traditional materials were rejected in favor of 12,000 separate pieces of what is called “weathering steel,” and that leathery brown hue, which is the arena’s final finish, is not paint but an intended layer of rust.

“When the material gets wet, there is a rusty wash that goes down onto adjacent areas of concrete,” said Michael Devonshire, a materials expert at Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, an architecture firm. “It can get really funky looking.”

To fend off some of the headaches, the steel on the Barclays Center was weathered before it ever made it to Brooklyn. Gregg Pasquarelli, a principal at SHoP Architects, which designed the arena, said the steel components spent about four months at an Indianapolis plant where they were put through more than a dozen wet-and-dry cycles a day. (Mr. Pasquarelli said the arena looked to him like what would happen if “Richard Serra and Chanel made a U.F.O. together.")


NoLandGrab: Don't flatter yourself, Pasquarelli. More like George Foreman and Fred Sanford made a U.F.O. together.

Photo: Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times

Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

Jay-Z: The Aura of Ownership

The Launch Magazine

The Launch speaks with New York Times reporter David Halbfinger about his recent article on Jay-Z's role with the Brooklyn Nets.

It seemed to be a no-brainer that Jay-Z would participate in Halbfinger’s story since they had great chemistry during their first interaction where Jay-Z actually rapped over the phone as he was finalizing the project in the recording studio. However, Jay-Z’s representatives declined an interview request and according to Halbfinger even tried to prevent the story from being published.

That’s interesting. Maybe they were concerned you would reveal how much of the team he didn’t really own. Many people were under the impression that it was 10 percent or maybe even 5 percent.

It’s very simple. He invested $1 million and that was out of a $300 million purchase price. That’s one-third of one percent, period. End of story.

Then that percentage went even lower?

When Mikhail D. Prokhorov (the billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets) bought 80 percent of the team what that does is squeezes down the 100 percent of all the other people into 20 percent. Everybody who had a piece up to that point had their stake divided by five.

You state in the piece that you gathered some information on Jay-Z from the “Empire State of Mind” book by Zack O’Malley Greenburg. What else did you use?

Yeah, I did use that book because he had a chapter in there all about that champagne. He has a pretty decent account of the major moments in Jay’s business career. But that was the only thing I directly took out of that book. I read a lot of clips and blogs. There’s a lot of stuff published by opponents and critics of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, online in particular.

You're welcome.


Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

Would private-sector version of alleged harasser Vito Lopez get "fired in a heartbeat" (as per Daily News)? Maybe not if it's Forest City and Jim Stuckey

Atlantic Yards Report

The career of Bushwick Assemblyman and Kings County Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez is gravely wounded, perhaps mortally so, and not by accusations of political chicanery, steering funds to the social service empire he founded, or ensuring that his girlfriend and a political ally, who run that empire, get paid very well.

Instead, it's an ethics committee finding of sexual harassment, which, though not a full legal proceeding, involves some investigation. Lopez denies the allegations.

As it happened, a somewhat parallel situation--it's not clear precisely how much--happened at private-sector Forest City Ratner regarding Jim Stuckey, who headed Atlantic Yards, but there was no firing "in a heartbeat" but rather some resistance at first.

Stuckey has since been sued for harassing a subordinate at NYU, and left the university; both defendants are fighting the charges, and the case is pending.


Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

Signage Up at Barclays Center

Here's Park Slope

The day is fast approaching when the city's newest arena, The Barclays Center. will open its doors at the intesection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, most likley changing the area for better or worse. Construction is progressing on a daily basis, and on Friday the big letters went up.

Many thanks to a reader for sending the above photo along.


Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

The Day: Nets Fandom and Local Fundraising

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Mitchell Trinka

One story that has raised local anxiety is uncertainty of what Brooklyn Nets games and other events at the soon-to-open Barclays Center will do to the neighborhood. We noticed that Brooklyn resident John Coghlan is accepting the changes with open arms – he’s even writing a weekly blog on Park Slope Patch to cover Nets news from a fan’s perspective. Now that the arena is almost completed, will you be rooting for the Garden State transplants as Mr. Coghlan suggests?


NoLandGrab: Ummmmmmmmmmmm... maybe we should consult the Magic 8 Ball.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

August 26, 2012

New York Times Public Editor says goodbye without a word about Atlantic Yards/Forest City, offers dubious praise for corrections desk

Atlantic Yards Report

If the job description of The New York Times's Public Editor includes "drive Norman Oder to distraction," then the office has been a resounding success.

New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane says goodbye after two years without a word about Atlantic Yards and Forest City Ratner, despite ample opportunity to weigh in on such basic things as whether and how the Times should disclose its business relationship to Forest City, or even the glaring decision to devote such Sports section real estate to photos of Brooklyn Nets advertising.

From his column in tomorrow's paper, Success and Risk as The Times Transforms:

Two years ago, when I wrote my “why on earth” column, I suggested that the pace of change called for a re-emphasis on “transparency, accountability, humility.” Looking back now, I think The Times could do better with these.

The Times is hardly transparent. A reader still has to work very hard to find any Times policies online (though some are tucked away there), and there is still no place where Times editors speak on the issues. As for humility, well, The Times is Lake Wobegon on steroids (everybody’s way above average). I don’t remember many autopsies in which, as we assembled over the body, anyone conceded that maybe this could have been done differently.

The strong suit, though, is the corrections desk, led by Greg Brock, where thousands of errors are somehow adjudicated every year. This is a powerful engine of accountability, unmatched by any other corrections operation I have seen, and a potential foundation element for a portal where The Times could prominently display “transparency, accountability, humility.”

A failure of accountability

Actually, errors aren't always adjudicated well, nor does Brock display “transparency, accountability, humility.”

He's actually kind of a dyspeptic character when challenged, not only by me but by, for example Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog (re ACORN/pimp coverage).


NoLandGrab: Oder is doing Brock a favor in calling him "dyspeptic," since the latter's exchanges with Oder actually make him sound like a sniveling weenie.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The new Times Public Editor sees role as "smart aggregator" and "forum organizer" (which should mean more attention to public critiques)

Imagine what acknowledgment of public critiques might bring. The Public Editor would actually have had to take seriously the evidence that the Barclays Center naming rights deal was closer to $200 million than $400 million, rather than let his assistant blow me off.

Then the Public Editor would link to news that the evidence was valid.

With Atlantic Yards, as I wrote yesterday, there would be ample opportunity for further inquiry.

Atlantic Yards Report, Times quietly replaces misleading Atlantic Yards graphic, without correction

Atlantic Yards Report, Has the Bloomberg administration "built" more than 130,000 units of affordable housing? No, but that's not what the Times reported

Atlantic Yards Report, Is the arena "a month ahead of schedule"? Times stenography takes Ratner at face value

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

Barclays Center Luxury Suite Rentals - Concerts and Brooklyn Nets Tickets

Private Suite Network

Just in case you and 11 of your closest friends have a hankering to see Journey...

We have a suite for the brand new Barclays Center that will open in Brooklyn, NY. We have access to every concert and Brooklyn Nets basketball games. If you have interest in renting our suite for a company event or group outing, then please email us at PrivateSuiteNetwork@hotmail.com.


Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

August 25, 2012

From Ratner's Times Square role to Atlantic Yards: corporate dominance of public space and a noncompetitive insider deal

Atlantic Yards Report

In James Traub's 2004 book, The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square, the author describes (on p. 189) a memorable interview with Bruce Ratner, "the developer responsible for Madame Tussaud's and Applebee's."

Ratner, Traub suggests, "is not a native New Yorker with a New Yorker's possessiveness over the city's past," and observes his subject justifying his decisions.

What's America today? Chains

Traub begins by quoting Ratner:

"Applebee's and Chevys--they're what America is today. I'm not saying that's good or bad, any more than Bond Clothes was." Bond, on Broadway and 44th, was Times Square's biggest retailer in the forties and fifties...

Ratner's implicit point was that 42nd Street was being true to its own past precisely by virtue of being dominated by McDonald's and the ESPN Zone. Forth-second Street was the home of popular entertainment, and in our own time mass culture is produced by giant companies. The elite can afford the local and the particular; ordinary folks consume less expensive, franchised products. And so a "corporate" 42nd Street was a democratic 42nd Street. Ratner's aides were now chuckling with some embarrassment at the boss's swelling oratory, but he plunged on, the bit between his teeth. "It's always been a place to go out for the lower-middle-income New Yorker. You go out on a Saturday night, and it's basically people of low-middle-income means, from the boroughs, from New Jersey, from Long Island, out for a date. If you think about all the great streets in the world, it's about seeing people from that culture. And it does that. And you know what? Maybe, at the end of the day, that's what a successful street is. Should it be Applebee's or should it be someplace else? Who knows? It's a great place."

The scene is quite plausible, as Ratner, in interviews, can start to babble.


Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

Meet the Owner: Calvin Clark of Mo's Fort Greene

Talking about the bar's first year in business and the opening of Barclays Center.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

After a more than a year in business and with the potentially game changing opening of Barclays Center only weeks away, Patch decided to check back in with Clark—who also owns the Brooklyn club Langston's—to get a sense of the year that was and the year yet to come.

Patch: Barclays Center is opening on Sept. 28 with Jay-Z's first concert. What are you expecting to happen as far as your business' bottom line after the arena opens?

Clark: [Laughing] I'm hoping to get at least 30 or 40 people from that stadium every time they have an event. It's kind of up in the air—I'm not sure how it's going to affect the community. Barclays Center—rightfully so—they are trying to keep as many dollars inside the stadium as possible with bars and clubs. And I don't know how much of that is going to spill out into the community. Fort Greene has the advantage of being one of the hot new neighborhoods—not new, but it's hot and it's happening. And that might give us an advantage. I'm just hoping that we get 30-40 people spilling from the stadium every time they have an event. It would be great. I talked to the owner of 67 Burger and he was saying pretty much the same thing—Scopello's as well. We're three blocks away from the stadium and it could make all the difference. People might not want to walk that extra block.

Patch: In terms of parking, crowds and that kind of stuff, do you have any trepidations about the opening of the arena?

Clark: Parking is going to be a nightmare. We already have traffic snarling along Atlantic and Flatbush Avenue. They haven't even finished the parking. I've heard that they are going to be bussing people down from the end of Atlantic Avenue by the river. It's going to be a nightmare. I don't care which way they spin that.


Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

In NY1 debate, Assembly candidate Alabi challenges rival Mosley about Atlantic Yards, but there's more heat than light

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards came up last night in a NY1 debate between 57th District Assembly candidates Walter Mosley and Olanike Alabi, but it generated more heat than light.

It begins at about 7:20 (and excerpted incompletely in Patch, which has broader coverage), when Alabi had a chance to address her rival: "You're also been cited as being on both sides of the Atlantic Yards issue, for and against.... How can we trust you? Where do you stand on Atlantic Yards?"

(Here's some coverage of his positions.)

Mosley responded with a slip at first: “I was the only candidate in this race to support this project--to take a stance on this project. It was a project that dealt with creating affordable [sic] jobs, it was a project that dealt with the issue of housing, as it relates to our middle-class families, our working-class families. Now this project has broken its promises. But I do believe that because I was supportive of it at the very beginning doesn’t mean I gave up my opportunity to be critical of it, and as a result, I understand that these promises that have been broken, as it relates to housing, as it relates to construction jobs, are promises that we're going to fight for as we go forward."

Alabi didn't say anything about Atlantic Yards during the debate, though she has been supportive of the Atlantic Yards opposition, for example showing up at a 2008 walkathon for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.


Related coverage...

NY 1, NY1 Online: Brooklyn Assembly Candidates Debate

Prospect Heights Patch, Attacks Fly in Race to Replace Hakeem Jeffries

Posted by eric at 9:41 AM

Candidate Profile: Olanike Alabi

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Matthew J. Perlman

We’re continuing our series of posts profiling the three candidates running in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for the state Assembly in the 57th Assembly District. For the second installment, The Local spoke with female Democratic District Leader Olanike Alabi about her life and what she plans to do if she wins the state Assembly race.

“Atlantic Yards is a major issue,” Ms. Alabi also noted. “We’ll be dealing with the aftermath of the construction.”

She has issues with the use of eminent domain for the project and is also weary [sic — we think] of the Atlantic Yards Governance Act, legislation intended to ensure oversight of the project through the Atlantic Yards Development Trust.


Posted by eric at 9:34 AM

August 24, 2012

Latest consultant's report: arena on schedule for "substantial completion" September 5; no mention of challenge in preparing for operations

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center arena is still on track for substantial completion on September 5, with a temporary certificate of occupancy, based on the latest report from Merritt & Harris, the construction monitor for the arena bond trustee. Several components of the arena are targeted to be completed by August 29.

There was no mention of any challenge in preparing the arena for operation; Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin once said in an affidavit that "it takes at least three to four months to commission an arena like Barclays Center--i.e., to test and refine the various buildings systems and the various operations (such as security and food services) that must be performing properly and efficiently." That meant the arena had to be completed by early July 2012--a date already in the past.

The Merritt & Harris report dated 8/7/12 and made available yesterday, is based on a 6/26/12 visit and documents made available on 7/20/12. (There's a bit of a time lag. Future site observations were scheduled for July 26, August 23, and September 27--the latter a day before arena opening.)


Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

Why I Am (and You Should Be) Rooting for the Nets

Park Slope Patch
by John Coghlan (Newly minted Nets fan)

This guy who just moved to Brooklyn last year wants you to be a Nets fan.

While my decision to convert to the Nets was sealed when I moved to Brooklyn in 2011 knowing they were joining me here a year later, I would have jumped on the black-and-white bandwagon had I stayed in “the city.” It isn't just my proximity to the arena that drove me to choose the Nets; there are a ton of reasons why I switched my allegiance.

#1. He wasn't much of a Knicks fan in the first place?

On top of the great ownership, talented team, beautiful new arena and underdog status, there are even more reasons to love the Nets. They have the coolest owner in sports history in Jay Z, their black-and-white gear is on point and they play in the city's biggest, best borough (it's true) and arguably the coolest place on the planet, Brooklyn. Come to think of it, I can't think of a good reason why you shouldn't root for the Nets this season.


NoLandGrab: We can think of a few.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Photos: sidewalks around arena, parking lot; Carlton Avenue Bridge progress

Atlantic Yards Report

Some updates on Atlantic Yards site work, mainly sidewalk work. The sidewalks outside the arena (first photo) and surface parking lot (third and fourth photos) are uniform; the challenge will be moving people on much more narrow sidewalks on the way from the lot to the arena.

    Sidewalk work on Sixth Avenue; note the bollards just inside the fence


Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

In Brooklyn, Working Out Nets Stadium’s Police Beat

MetroFocus [Thirteen.org]
by John Farley

“When the arena opens there are going to be changes to people’s quality of life,” Capt. Michael Ameri, standing next to City Councilmember Letitia James, told a roomfull of people at Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct, where he is the commanding officer. The public meeting on how the new Barclays Center and surrounding area would be policed drew approximately 60 area residents on Wednesday.

Because the arena’s footprint sits within three police precincts — the 77th, 78th and 88th — the city went for efficiency and unofficially selected the 78th Precinct to cover Barclays Center, as well as the Atlantic Mall and Atlantic Terminal, last March. On August 13, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent a letter to City Council requesting approval for the redrawn boundary 78th Precinct, which will also expand to cover a triangle wedge of residential streets between Flatbush, Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues. The Council has 60 days to respond to the request, but permission has been tacit as the stadium will open on September 28 with a Jay-Z concert and the 78th has already been preparing for its expanded beat, which will include a special “arena detail” and considerable overtime for many of its officers.

That overtime, said James (D-35), is going to be covered by the taxpayers of the City of New York.

“I believe Forest City Ratner should cover the overtime costs, but at this point, it’s the taxpayers. Which is why I opposed it [Atlantic Yards] from day one,” James added.

Echoes of that frustration, after years of legal battles, pervaded the room, but the point of the meeting was clear: to work out how the police are going to deal with a huge influx of people (the arena has 18,000 seats).


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Traffic Biggest Concern, Not Crowds, After 78th Precinct Takes Over Barclays Center

“To be honest with you, that's my biggest concern with this arena is traffic,” [78th Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Michael Ameri] said to a room filled with about 60 residents from Park Slope, Fort Green and Prospect Heights. “We will have beyond sufficient number of traffic agents and we will pull cars away from the arena so cars close to the area can leave.”

“We will set the tone early — we will flood the area with traffic agents and tow trucks. We want the word out that if you break the law, you’ll not only get a ticket, but you’ll get towed,” Ameri said, explaining that on opening day tow trucks will be there. “Once the word is out that you’ll get towed, people will be scared.”

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

August 23, 2012

Oil and Gas Companies Can Take Your Land

No Person Shall Be Deprived of Life, Liberty or Property… Unless the Oil and Gas Industry Says So.

by Alison K. Grass

Eminent domain, the government's right to condemn (or take) private land for "public use," has at times been a highly contentious topic because it can displace people from their homes to make way for construction of different projects, like highways or roads, civic buildings and other types of public infrastructure. However, what some may not realize is that several states have granted eminent domain authority to certain private entities, including oil and gas companies. These companies are using it as a tool to seize private land, which increases profits and benefits their wallets.

Meanwhile in Texas, TransCanada, the company that wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline, is trying to grab private property from a small town, claiming they have eminent domain rights-and some residents are outraged.

The Kelo case broadened the interpretation of the "public use." The city of New London took land from a private property owner so that they could give it to a private entity in the name of "economic development." Unfortunately, oil and gas companies will now have this card to play when justifying land grabs.


NoLandGrab: In Brooklyn, of course, the State of New York used eminent domain to seize land for an arena to house a basketball team owned by a Russian oligarch. Now they're just cutting out the middleman.

Posted by eric at 5:45 PM

As arena opening approaches, neighbors express worries about traffic, parking; NYPD commander says they can handle large crowds, but admits challenges

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what happens when an arena hosting more than 18,000 event-goers opens at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, major arteries but a very tight fit with nearby residential blocks?

Neighbors from Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, and elsewhere got a chance to vent their anxieties last night at a meeting held at 78th Precinct on Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue a block from the arena site. The precinct has been assigned--though the move is not yet official--to police the arena site, as well as the rest of the Atlantic Yards project and Forest City Ratner’s malls across Atlantic Avenue.

(The arena opens Sept. 28, and the City Council may not have voted on the boundary change by then, but presumably the 78th will be in charge.)

The commanding officer, Captain Michael Ameri, expressed confidence that the NYPD, and this precinct, can handle large crowds. He had previously policed CitiField and the U.S. Open, and the 78th Precinct has experience with large crowds at Prospect Park.

Council Member Letitia James, who called the meeting (she was joined briefly by Council Member Steve Levin) urged constructive comments, not a “griping session,” and the 60+ people mostly complied.

The fundamental issue of siting the arena still resonated. One resident asked about the impact of unauthorized vendors, who set up on the fly and deal in cash, on the neighborhood.

Ameri said NYPD would address ticket scalpers and other illegal sellers, though certain items--books--are considered freedom of speech. Such vendors are at every event, such as at Madison Square Garden.

Then again, as one resident pointed out, near MSG, they’re not in a residential area.

Most vendors, Ameri suggested, will be in close proximity to arena. So too are residences, though.

(Note to myopic New York Times reporters who have reported that “die-hard opponents are still resisting” or that “opponents [have] fresh reason to complain.” A large majority of the people in the room have not been active in the Atlantic Yards opposition. They just live there.)


Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

Fuhgeddaboudit! Nets’ value soars in Brooklyn

NY Post
by Josh Kosman

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is getting a nice bump in his “Net” worth.

The 6-foot-8-inch Nets owner has seen the value of his investment more than double since he bought the team two years ago, thanks to the move into the more financially friendly Barclays Center.

As the Nets gear up for the first season in the soon-to-be-completed Barclays Center, the team is now worth roughly $575 million, according to one sports investment banker. That’s 60 percent more than they were valued just last season by Forbes.

In addition, the team may post its first profit in a decade, The Post has learned.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Prokhorov math: value of investment in Nets has jumped upon move to Brooklyn, but how much

Yes, the move of the Nets to Brooklyn has caused the team value to soar--another outcome not factored in as city and state agencies negotiated subsidies with the developer Forest City Ratner.

Also not factored in is this: the amount Prokhorov has promised to invest in the team as part of the deal.

The Nets have the league's third-highest payroll, as noted by NetsDaily's Bob Windrem: $81.8 million, prompting a luxury tax of at least $11.5 million this year, and perhaps double next year.

Still, Prokhorov now has most of the team and 45% of the arena. What enabled it? Government help.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, Brooklyn Nets: Mikhail Prokhorov Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

BTB appears to be the only person fooled by Mikhail Prokhorov's staged foray into "electoral" politics.

And you can just ask Pussy Riot; the all-girl punk-rock band arrested and jailed as dissenters in Moscow; how lucky Prokhorov really is to be safely back in the States. The Nets owner decided to take on Vladimir Putin, and run for President of Russia. Joking aside, there was a real possibility his ownership of the Nets would be placed in a Trust, if in fact he become the elected leader of modern day Russia.

To the relief of Nets fans, Prokhorov lost the elections, and is finally back in town to antagonize the Knicks, which is right where he should be.

NoLandGrab: Phew, that was a close one.

NetsDaily, Nets To Make Big Profit in Brooklyn

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

Welcome to Brooklyn: The most dishonest place in America

Metro New York
by Carly Baldwin

Regular readers of NoLandGrab — and the frequent crime reports from Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls — won't find this surprising at all.

Staten Island is more honest than Queens. Manhattan is more honest than State Island.

And Brooklyn is the least honest borough of all.

Those are the findings of an informal marketing “study” done by Honest Tea, the sweet tea company owned by Coca-Cola. From Aug. 8 to Aug. 19, Honest Tea erected more than 50 unmanned pop-up kiosks in 30 cities across the country, including several in New York.

The stands were stocked with drinks and a jar asking for $1. Payment was based on the honor system. The company wanted to see if people would pay when, ostensibly, nobody was watching.

Citywide, 92 percent of people stopping by put in money. Approximately 1,800 people stopped by the Honest Tea booths. The booths were set up at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn Queens Center Mall in Queens, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, outside CitiField in Queens, at the Staten Island Mall and at Chelsea Piers. There were stands on Wall Street, Madison Avenue and outside where "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show" are filmed.

Two spots in New York City made the bottom five for the fewest amount of donations: At Atlantic Terminal, only 61 percent of the people who stopped put in cash. Someone also tried to steal some duct tape from that location, the company lamented.


NoLandGrab: Welcome to Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn, Honest Tea!

Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

August 22, 2012

The backlash to NY Mag writer's portrait of "pleasant and affable" Bruce Ratner; in 2003, sports biz reporter transcended "engaging" Ratner to note, "people are doing this to make money"

Atlantic Yards Report

The backlash to Will Leitch's big, conclusory New York Magazine Barclays Center feature ("This is no longer... an example of private might overcoming public interest") continues, thanks to the author's admission in a sidebar:

* We talked to a ton of people for this story, but without question, the most pleasant and affable person we talked to was ... Bruce Ratner. The controversial — to say the least — real estate magnate is not known for this warmth and cuddliness, but in all honesty, his aw-shucks demeanor was disarming, to say the least. (This is not entirely because he thought our son was cute, though he did and that never hurts.) We don't know if he'll be happy with everything that's in the story, but for a guy who had a whole theatrical documentary made about how awful he is, we were surprised by how likable we found him in person.

Well, "we" clearly didn't talk to enough people--not even colleagues--who might give "us" a more rounded perspective.

Turning on the b.s. detector

The thing is, journalists don't have to know about the gag orders and the broken promises and the lobbying/p.r. spending that are part of Forest City Ratner's hardball business practices.

They just should be professional and turn on the b.s. detector. For example, here's Matthew Futterman, then a sports business reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, talking on the 12/12/03 Brian Lehrer Show:

I like Bruce Ratner very much personally. He’s a very engaging person, he’s very enthusiastic, and I think he’s sincere, he has his heart in the right place, but it’s amazing how similar he sounds to the people who wanted to build the arena in Newark five years ago, in terms of, y’know, 'we’re doing this for the community, and we’re doing this for the kids, it’s important for them.'

Doc director responds

And Leitch dissed Battle for Brooklyn, which he may not have actually watched. Director Mike Galinsky responded in a comment:

I try to stay out of the fray but I take exception to the idea that "Battle for Brooklyn" was devoted to making Ratner look bad. This kind of dismissive throw away line about our 8 years of work plays into the FCR playbook, and its simply not true. In fact major project proponent Errol Louis, on NY1's Inside City Hall, called the movie very fair, as did James Caldwell from BUILD when he saw it. As you can see from the link you posted, over 100 NY Times readers have given it an average 5 star rating and a slew of positive reviews. I'm curious to know if you saw it yourself or if you are simply quoting Bruce Ratner. What the film does do is follow the opposition, which was largely denied a hearing in the main stream press. To qoute your colleague Chris Smith from a year ago (well before the current FCR charm offensive) "Battle for Brooklyn is at its best showing how Atlantic Yards used the pretense of democracy to enrich the powerful, but how it also energized actual citizens to fight the good fight. Seeing the girders climb for the Nets' new home, though, there’s little comfort in being noble losers." Articles like yours give creedence to both Ratner's and Bloomberg's idea that "No one's going to remember how long it took. They are going to just look and see that it was done". Our goal is to explode this myth of power and try to help people to remember so this kind of corrupt kleptocratic nonsense isn't so easy to pull off next time.


Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

The arena effect or the "Brooklyn" effect? Top broker suggests the latter is more important

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Commercial Observer: The Eight Percenter: In 2012, Massey Knakal’s Stephen Palmese Closed 8% Of All Brooklyn Sales Deals. How?:

The draw for Brooklyn is the borough itself, he says, and not the so-called residual value that will be created by the impending debut of Ohio-based developer Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Development, which other brokers and developers have been boasting about ever since the Barclays Center broke ground in 2010.

“I think that’s hogwash,” he said of the shared benefits of the Atlantic Yards development on residential real estate. “I don’t think it’s going to affect residential rates at all. You can argue that it could decrease rents.”

“It has sort of insulated and propped up the retail in the surrounding corridors that were trying to find their identity,” Mr. Palmese said. “So yes, it has had a positive effect for retail, but I think it has a negative effect on residential.”

I agree that "Brooklyn" itself is the draw; after all, that's why the arena's here.

The arena impact: mixed

But I suspect that the arena's impact in both categories is a bit more mixed. "Positive effect" means increasing retail rents in the orbit of the arena, though that likely means that the retail mix will become skewed toward bars and restaurants and stores that can cater somewhat, if not mostly, to an arena crowd.

Already there's a plethora of bars and restaurants likely aiming for cross-over success. That already means that more workaday businesses, like laundromats and stationary stores, get nudged out, and local residents who depended on them feel a loss.


Related content...

The Commercial Observer, The Eight Percenter: In 2012, Massey Knakal’s Stephen Palmese Closed 8% Of All Brooklyn Sales Deals. How?

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

The Cloud Over BK's 'Transformer' -- Nets Arena Leaves a Community Behind, Ignored

Black and Brown News

Brooklyn's Transformer has arrived. It is here to stay. There is nothing to stop it. Still, to the protect the public's best interest, there is an urgent call for Governor Cuomo's oversight.

In September, the new Brooklyn Nets Arena -- Barclays Center -- will open with a spectacular concert, featuring Brooklyn-born rapper, Jay-Z. Despite eight years of protests, community-developer wrangling, legal challenges and the displacement of residents and small businesses, proponents and fans of the massive real estate development will finally see the project come to life.

Still, for many, all is not fair, or right, in this high-stakes game of real estate and economic development versus public and community interests.


Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

Through July 1, event tickets (not Nets) at Barclays Center brought in $14.7 million

Atlantic Yards Report

The first round of events booked at the Barclays Center have, as of July 1, brought in $14.7 million in ticket receipts, according to a quarterly report filed yesterday by Forest City Ratner to arena bondholders.

The report covers April 1-June 30, and is the first report with any ticket sales. The overall total is $20.9 million.

As far as I know, this figure excludes ticket sales for Nets games.

Some big days

Note that there are several clusters of big sales.

Tickets for Barbra Streisand went on sale before and up through May 20, perhaps leading to the $2.5 million and $1 million figures for that day.

What about that $4.85 million take on June 1? Probably (at least in part) Justin Bieber, whose presale was that day.


Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

Gun-wielding thugs rob C train rider

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

While Bruce Ratner was pulling a con job on a gullible Will Leitch, crime was also going down in his Atlantic Terminal mall.

Victoria’s swipe

A crook stole a woman’s wallet at the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Aug. 18.

The 55-year-old victim told cops she left her wallet on the counter of the Victoria’s Secret in the Flatbush Avenue mall at 12:13 pm, returning two minutes later to find it gone.


Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

August 21, 2012

"Honor, Integrity and Playing by the Rules" out of style, as Ratner says, "No one will care what we had to do to make it happen"

Atlantic Yards Report

In the big New York magazine feature yesterday on the Barclays Center, arena developer Bruce Ratner was quoted by Will ("Bruce-Ratner-was-affable-to-me") Leitch:

Ratner doesn’t worry about his personal legacy; once, during another meeting, he pointed to famous buildings nearby and noted that no one knows the names of the people who built them. The world is a “long, big place,” he said. One hundred years from now, “Brooklyn is going to be an epicenter of this country, and this place will be at the middle of that. No one will care what we had to do to make it happen.”

I agreed that people 100 years down the road won't care, but the point is a distraction: the Atlantic Yards towers and arena that Ratner builds likely won't exist.

The real issue, as commenters on New York's web site, Brownstoner, and DDDB pointed out, to quote "Montrose Morris," is this:

Yeah, that really is an outrageous statement. So I guess the ends justify the means. That's a slippery slope, and if that comment is his legacy, well, I'd rather be nobody, too.

Ends justify means: Independent Compliance Monitor

The list of ends-justify-the-means examples is long, but let's take just one example: the Independent Compliance Monitor promised under the "historic" Community Benefits Agreement Ratner (CBA) signed in 2005. It doesn't exist.


Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner Implies That There Was Indeed Something Wrong With How He Pursued Atlantic Yards

[Ratner] says one hundred years from now, "No one will care what we had to do to make it happen." That's quite a legacy he wants for himself. But more importantly it implies that there indeed was something wrong with how they made it happen, and right now a lot of people do care about the corrupt manner in which his firm and his enablers in NY state and city government made the money-losing, neighborhood-killing Barclays Center happen. The implication is correct.

Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

Task force addressing quality-of-life issues won't emerge until Sept. 6, after liquor license meeting, rather than before, as once requested

Atlantic Yards Report

There will be a task force addressing quality-of-life issues regarding the Barclays Center arena, but it did not meet, as Community Board 6 initially requested, before the State Liquor Authority (SLA) held a hearing on the arena liquor license, nor will it meet before the SLA board votes on the license.

(There is a meeting tomorrow night at the 78th Precinct regarding somewhat more narrow public safety issues. A quality-of-life committee presumably would also address things like parking and sanitation, among other things.)

As part of its conditional support for the Barclays Center liquor license, Brooklyn Community Board 6 requested in May "that the applicants establish a community advisory task force whose purpose would be to meet periodically and on a regular basis to monitor and discuss quality of life impacts that the arena will have on its surrounding communities."

Such a task force could come out of an existing entity such as the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, stated the letter, which stressed that the advisory body "should be appointed and convened without delay and we believe it should meet at least once prior to the 500-foot hearing we are expecting the SLA to schedule on this application."


Posted by eric at 12:26 PM


Affordable Housing Institute: US
by David A. Smith

In June, we rediscovered that, as anyone knows who’s trolled Facebook or compared an executive’s bio or Web site photo with the reality, what we present is usually more appealing than what we actually are – and when it comes to winning bids or approvals for big complex urban properties, the trinkets developers use to adorn their otherwise homely and money-grubbing schemes usually include affordable housing.

After the successful bid, the gewgaws are returned to the box and forgotten, as I demonstrated in Discarding the ornaments....


Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

Nets–Barclays Center Story: The DVD Extras

New York Magazine
by Will Leitch

The author of yesterday's Nerf-ball story on the Barclays Center analyzes his own reporting.

Our big feature on the Nets and Barclays Center, after months of fits and stops, finally ran in the magazine this week. We hope you enjoy it. Even at 4,000 words, there were lots of observations and narrative potpourri we couldn't fit in there, so we thought we'd throw it in this here post.

• We talked to a ton of people for this story, but without question, the most pleasant and affable person we talked to was ... Bruce Ratner. The controversial — to say the least — real estate magnate is not known for this warmth and cuddliness, but in all honesty, his aw-shucks demeanor was disarming, to say the least. (This is not entirely because he thought our son was cute, though he did and that never hurts.) We don't know if he'll be happy with everything that's in the story, but for a guy who had a whole theatrical documentary made about how awful he is, we were surprised by how likable we found him in person.

Practically like "an angel sent from God."

• Note that the story consistently refers to the new building as "Barclays Center" not "the Barclays Center." The Nets insist on this nomenclature, so we stuck with it, but we're not sure we buy it.

We're still calling it THE Barclays Center.

• Oh, about hockey: The Nets insist that even though the arena is almost cartoonishly incompatible for hockey, they will be making a big push for the New York Islanders when their lease is up. And they won't have to change anything about the building either. “We think we can get a hockey team without any major adjustments,” CEO Brett Yormark told me.


Related coverage...

Curbed, Building a Super-Premium Arena for a Booming Boro's Brand

There's a strong possibility that, even with Jay Z cheering from the super-premium Vault Lounge membership seats, the Brooklyn Nets will still suck at basketball, despite the geographic move from Jersey.

Brooklyn Heights Blog, Barclays Center: What Does It Mean For 21st-Century Brooklyn?

Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

Map: Is Your Favorite Sports Team for Romney or Obama?

It's a Free Country
by Steven Melendez and Stephen Reader

In a town with two football teams, local fans are divided. Turns out the same goes for the team owners and their politics.

A big RNC donor owns the AFC team, a DNC donor the NFC team. We're talking about Woody Johnson and Jonathan Tisch, owners of the New York Jets and Giants, respectively.

Johnson's a Republican bundler who's contributed over $70,000 to national Republican committees, presidential candidates, and a pro-Romney PAC this election cycle. Tisch has given over $60,000 to Barack Obama and Democratic committees.

Basketball in the Big Apple? Similar story. Knicks owner James Dolan contributes to Mitt Romney; Nets co-owner Bruce Ratner gives to Obama.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner is a "co-owner" the way Joe Biden is "co-President." The Nets' real owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, did more than give — he ran a phony campaign for the Russian Presidency to help smooth the way for the autocratic Vladimir Putin's election.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

New Series: It Happened

Steel, Brick, and Stone

Introducing a new series, “It Happened.” Explore the past and present of important historic sites, and listen along on Broadcastr!

For the debut, Steel, Brick, and Stone presents the Battle of Long Island, or “Battle of Brooklyn,” fought during the American Revolutionary War.* As the events unfolded in 1776, so will the posts in this series.

*Not to be confused with Battle for Brooklyn, or the war against eminent domain abuse and Bruce Ratner’s plan to move the Nets to the borough, fought by some of the best people ever.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

What time will Barclays Center liquor license application be heard on August 29? Unclear, but I'd bet early

Atlantic Yards Report

When during its Aug. 29 meeting (at its Harlem office) will the State Liquor Authority (SLA) board address the application for the Barclays Center liquor license? Unclear.

SLA spokesman William Crowley states:

The Full Board hearing starts at 10 am, the items are called in the order in which they are signed in for in the morning. The length of this case will be dependent on the number of individuals wishing to testify, as well as the issues brought before the Board. As you probably know, the meeting is open to the public, as well as webcast live.

I'd bet that the interested parties from the Barclays Center (the official applicants are Brooklyn Events Center and Levy Premium Foodservice) will not want to wait the whole day, and will try to make sure everyone's signed in first.


Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Takes Dig At Knicks’ ‘Little Man’ James Dolan

CBS New York

The Brooklyn Nets did all they could this offseason to try and give the Knicks a run for their money in the Big Apple battleground.

With stars on both sides, the rivalry is sure to entertain on the court.

Off it? Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has that covered.

In a recently published New York Magazine article, writer Will Leitch said the 6-foot-8 Russian billionaire referred to Knicks owner James Dolan as “that little man.”

“It’s clear that the Nets did not move to Brooklyn to be Pepsi to Jim Dolan’s Coke,” wrote Leitch. “They want to be Veuve Clicquot.”


NoLandGrab: We think Leitch means they want to be Armand de Brignac.

Related coverage...

ProBasketballTalk [NBCSports.com], Prokhorov refers to James Dolan as “the little man”

(Prokhorov told me back in December that he plans on attending a quarter of the regular-season games and “all the playoff ones.” He also made sure that I heard him call Dolan “that little man.”)

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

August 20, 2012

NY Mag on Barclays Center: battle is over, Ratner won (um, what about "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops"?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The headline on the major New York magazine feature on the new Brooklyn arena is this: Game Time: The fighting is over; Bruce Ratner’s Barclays Center is here. Now that he’s built it, will they come?


Now it's surely legitimate to ask how well the arena might sell tickets, which is the ultimate question in the subheading--though, curiously enough, one big variable is missing: the (cramped) potential for pro hockey.

But to mostly dismiss the history, the ongoing controversy, and the current challenge of operating the arena is just a little myopic. (Hint: even arena-goers might care that the Barclays Center lost its general manager and that operators will have mere weeks, rather than months, to test the building. Or that the parking doesn't quite work.)

Author Will Leitch writes:

This is no longer a public debate, or a public outrage, or a theoretical construct, or an example of private might overcoming public interest. That battle is over, and Bruce Ratner won it. It is now part of the new Brooklyn reality. It is the centerpiece of how the borough, and the city, will be seen for generations to come. It is undeniably here.

The lingering controversy

Well, yeah, it's here. As one commenter tried to remind the author, Atlantic Yards was supposed to be about "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops," not merely an arena. What about the people who bought into that?

And another pointed out, there's still public outrage, but the author didn't bother to talk to anyone outside arena backers and sports folks.


Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

Game Time

The fighting is over; Bruce Ratner’s Barclays Center is here. Now that he’s built it, will they come?

New York Magazine
by Will Leitch

The fighting is over? Was someone going to let us know?

On a sweltering, oppressively humid August afternoon in Brooklyn, as some poor lady across the street yells at her shirtless son to getbackoverhereyou while pushing a stroller through the front doors of the Applebee’s across from the Atlantic Center, as a construction worker blankly looks on while gnawing on a bagel sandwich and smoking a cigarette, as a half-clothed homeless man pours a bottle of some indeterminate liquid on his head to stay cool … it’s impossible to believe that Jay-Z is going to be here in about a month and a half. This place is about as glamorous as stepping in chewing gum on the subway platform.

The construction on Barclays Center has been going 24/7 for about a month now to prepare for the big opening night, September 28, the first of eight Jay-Z concerts to open up the Brooklyn building, but all told, it’s pretty quiet this Sunday. It’s so hot that most of the laborers are sitting around dumping water on each other, the massive crane above the structure’s oval roof is idle, and the Modell’s across the street, with all the Brooklyn Nets gear, is mostly empty and sad. (Though not nearly as sad as the lonely shelf of Linsanity jerseys.) There are people bustling around, through Buffalo Wild Wings and Men’s Wearhouse and that terrifying Target, in a fashion more Times Square than Downtown Brooklyn. There have been complaints about Barclays Center construction, but the much larger issue is the narrowing of streets, turning that gnarled Fourth Avenue–Flatbush Avenue–Atlantic Avenue intersection into a sweaty game of urban Twister.


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, NY Mag: Is Barclays Center a Success?

Posted by eric at 12:01 PM

Pre-paid parking module for Barclays Center finally works, but only seven lots (plus on-site lot) now available; goal is 20

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, though released last week, is still a work in progress. For example, the module to pre-purchase offsite parking finally works, after a significant delay, but only seven public parking facilities have been incorporated so far.

That means that, not only have people who already bought hundreds of thousands of tickets to arena events were not able to buy parking seamlessly, there are fewer spaces available than previously suggested. (No total is now listed.)

The draft TDM plan identified 20 other public parking facilities within ½ mile of the arena block, but now it lists "approximately 20." Vendor "Click and Park will make efforts to incorporate as many as possible of the 20 off-site facilities," the final plan states.

So far, as the map [at right] indicates, there are only eight facilities available, including 752 Pacific Street, which is the surface parking lot associated with the arena.


Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

N.Y. Islanders: Why Brooklyn Should Be Their New Home

Bleacher Report
by John Degroote

At some point, you'd think that people who contribute to hockey fan sites would understand that a building with a horseshoe configuration for hockey would be completely untenable except for the occasional exhibition game, but no.

If the Islanders were to call the Barclays Center home, they would have the lowest seating capacity in the NHL; however, this is not a negative.

Or at least it wouldn't be a negative if the seats were evenly distributed around the rink, or the sightlines weren't horrendous. Here's a reminder:


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

Brooklyn Nets to Hold Auditions for Kids Dance Team

August 24 auditions open to children ages 6-13 with at least two years of dance training.

Brooklyn Nets Press Release via Ditmas Park Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Can your kid dance? Do you mind if he or she is exploited to sell a phony sense of "community?" Then do we have the opportunity for you!

From the Brooklyn Nets:

The Brooklyn Nets are searching for the next generation of gifted young dancers to join the Brooklyn Nets Kids dance team. Open auditions for the dance team will be held on Friday, August 24 at 4 p.m. at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center at 161 Ashland Place on the LIU Brooklyn campus. Registration begins at 3 p.m. and dancers must arrive by 4 p.m. to participate.

Celebrity choreographer Tanisha Scott will be the Head Coach of the Brooklyn Nets Kids. Scott has worked with JAY Z, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Sean Paul, and many others. The dance team will be showcased in front of thousands of fans at Brooklyn Nets home games at Barclays Center and represent the Brooklyn Nets at events throughout the New York metropolitan area.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

The Times, Channeling The Brooklyn Standard, Runs Free Ad Insert for Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Apparently it wasn't enough for the NY Times to devote a fluffy front page article to Jay-Z's 0.0666% ownership of the Brooklyn Nets. Three days later the paper of record became Ad Week, running a 3-page photo spread in the 8-page Saturday sports section promoting the Nets' marketing campaign.

Reminds us quite a lot of Forest City Ratner's fake tabloid The Brooklyn Standard.


Related content...

The New York Times, link

In case you missed The Times's latest photo essay, in which they forgot to disclose their business relationship with the Nets' arena builder/operator and minority owner.

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

August 19, 2012

Trying to rename Brooklyn "Forest City"? Maybe not so much, but Barclays Center, as in BCTV, and Brooklyn Nets step up

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how roots rocker John Pinamonti, in his elegiac 2007 fight song "The Burrow," warned:

Makes me sad, yeah it's such a pity
They're trying to rename Brooklyn "Forest City"

Well, that's not so anymore. The names we hear are The Brooklyn Nets, whose promotional efforts get compounded by press promotion, and the Barclays Center, the latter named--despite Michael D. D. White's efforts in Noticing New York--mostly unsullied by the Barclays scandal.

"Visit BCTV to watch what's happening around Brooklyn and Barclays Center," the arena home page urges, referring to the in-house video channel, which of course comes with a sponsor, Ortsbo.


Posted by steve at 11:05 PM

"In Brooklyn, It’s All Nets": Times slideshow (and Sports section three-pager) about Nets marketing reinforces Nets marketing

Atlantic Yards Report

In Brooklyn, It’s All Nets, declares a 12-slide slideshow online at the New York Times's Sports section. It also occupies the top two-thirds of the Sports section front in print, plus a two-page center spread:

The Nets don’t officially step on the court in Brooklyn until the fall. But the team’s imprint is already evident, even ubiquitous, around the borough.

Well, duh, because most of the examples involve advertising.


Posted by steve at 11:00 PM

The New York Times Starts Reporting That New York Government Officials Are Looking At Suing Barclays Bank- Leading to. . . ?

Noticing New York

On an integrative note, Mr. Schneiderman, when running for the office of Attorney General once dangled the promise that elected as attorney general he would investigate the Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly of which the “Barclays” Center is a part (you see he could be conducting two investigations involving "Barclays" name) and that he would act to prevent such eminent domain abuse in the future. Based on those remarks Noticing New York endorsed voting for him. Making that endorsement Noticing New York offered these words:

It really would be a shame if our next New York State Attorney General doesn’t investigate the misconduct of state officials with respect to Atlantic Yards and the associated abuses of eminent domain there and elsewhere in New York State. And it will be a glorious new day if they do investigate and bring the powers of that office to bear on those problems.


Asked about Atlantic Yards and projects that abuse eminent domain Mr. Schneiderman said:

Also, the Attorney General can also just conduct investigations into the way these projects are carried out. Because even if they are technically complying with some of the laws I assure you that there are other issues that can be raised by an attorney general willing to take a look aggressively at the way these folks are proceeding.


The idea [of eminent domain] was not to get land so someone can build a megadevelopment for a shopping mall or something else. This is just completely out of balance. Now if I’m in the Attorney General’s office- - * * * The next Attorney General’s ability to move program bills which is part of the Attorney Generals’ function * * * I would move program bills to correct this and I would enforce them rigorously.

The same night Mr. Schneiderman provided this envisioning of his own elected future, Eric Dinallo, another candidate running against Mr. Schneiderman for the same office, said that the recent “complete” change in interpreting eminent domain to allow seizure of one private owner’s land to turn it over to another private owner for that other owner's private benefit was wrong and that he would:

. . . use the appeals and opinions section of the attorney general’s office to issue a revisitation of it. So I think the office now has such prominence both in the state and across the country that I would issue an opinion that would explore this again and disagree with it pretty clearly and then lead that into the signaling of a potential lawsuit around getting the laws changed and in an approach that I think should include returning back to more of a public enterprise condemnation proceeding and not a private taking.

The bottom line is, as most of the candidates in that night’s forum helped make clear: There are things an elected attorney general could now be doing respecting the improprieties reflected in Atlantic Yards and the “Barclays” Center.


Posted by steve at 10:56 PM

August 17, 2012

An SUV, apparently driven by a construction worker, speeds south the wrong way on Carlton Avenue

Atlantic Yards Report

What's wrong with this picture? Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights is a one-way street, northbound.

The black vehicle, apparently driven by a construction worker--coming from the official Atlantic Yards staging area and wearing a reflective vest--drove southbound yesterday afternoon, speeding, from Pacific to Bergen streets, according to Atlantic Yards Watch.

That, understandably, alarmed drivers and pedestrians.


Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

Community meeting set for September 5 on effort to establish Neighborhood Protection Plan around arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Beyond the meeting at the 78th Precinct regarding Barclays Center security issues, set for August 22, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council announces another community meeting:

Neighborhood Protection Plan meeting with Forest City Ratner
When: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 7:00pm
Where: Iglesia Latina Evengelica, 506 Bergen Street (between 6th and Carlton Avenues)
What progress has been made toward the goals of the Neighborhood Protection Plan sponsored by local elected officials and civic groups representing communities surrounding the Barclays Center arena?
Join us for a discussion of what's left to be done with Ashley Cotton of Forest City Ratner and other invited guests, and bring your questions and concerns.

As I wrote recently, there have been a couple of quiet meetings regarding the plan--which requested garbage cans, new signage, and funding for two parks positions nearby, among other things--but no results yet. Council Member Steve Levin said it was essential to address traffic, crowd management, and sanitation issues before the arena opens.


Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

What's Jay-Z's Real Worth With the Brooklyn Nets?

The Source
by Shaina Auxilly

The face of the franchise, the rapper that “brought a basketball team to Brooklyn”, the #1 lyricist turned businessman but what is Jay-Z’s real worth with the Brooklyn Nets? Today the official numbers were released via Darren Rovell, an ESPN Sports Business Reporter and after the release of an interesting NY Times article.

According to Rovell, Jay-Z born Shawn Carter owns .06% of the Nets a total of $214,000 a minuscule amount of the team that’s worth a reported $312 million according to Forbes. This number might take you aback and make you feel a bit bamboozled when you look around and almost every association with the Brooklyn Nets features the legendary rap star. That was indeed the intended purpose.


Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

Jay-Z Only Owns 0.0666% Of The Brooklyn Nets


I know a damn Grand Hu$tle when I see one, and when Jay-Z just so happened to be named an "owner" of the New Jersey Nets a few years back, my Negro Antennae went up. Not because I doubted the JiggaMan's business acumen, but because the timing of the announcement and the team's plans to seize the property of poor folks to build an arena in Brooklyn just seemed waaay to coincidental.

We've all seen the blueprint (no pun intended) before. Put a smiley, familiar face on the front of a ruthless corporation to make a not-so-popular decision a bit more palatable. Jay-Z was this face, a Brooklyn Boy done good. People would maybe feel a bit better about being homeless if one of their own was somehow profiting as a result. The Atlantic Yards project faced years of legal wrangling, but the arena is finally complete and the Nets will play their first games there in a few weeks. I'll certainly strategically plan a customer visit to NYC sometime this Winter to check the place out myself.

Good times. Unless, of course, you were displaced. Not so good times.

Anyways, given how much he brags about "owning the team" in nearly every one of his raps, I've always wondered just how much "ownership" Hov actually has. Turns out, he owns about as much of the Nets as I own Sirius XM radio.

Which is to say, not very much.


Posted by eric at 10:04 AM

NNY: Linking (or not) the Barclays scandal with the Barclays Center, another omission of that logo on the roof, and Jay-Z in a (modified) Barclays Center hat

Atlantic Yards Report

Michael D. D. White, in a Noticing New York column titled With Discordant Synchronicity The “Barclays” Center Will Open At LIBOR Scandal’s Peak: What The New York Times Is And Isn’t Covering, focuses on the Times's inability to link the Barclays LIBOR scandal with that new building opening in Brooklyn, and suggests:

adoption of a phrase that can be included in every Times article mentioning the Center like the “awkwardly-named,” “problematically-named,” or “embarrassingly-named Barclays Center.”

He also point out another instance in which the arena was portrayed without the planned Barclays Center sign on the roof:

This omission of reference to the icky oddness of brandishing the“Barclays” name is going on even as new plans were unveiled to plaster an additional Barclays logo in super giant lettering on the top of the arena. When you look down from a helicopter at Brooklyn, the borough will be prominently branded with the scandal-associated name! (FYI: In the fall of 2009 when the arena design was released to the public and a public information session was held- the closest approximation to to a public comment hearing that took place- the renderings and models shown to the public were all presented WITHOUT this “Barclays” top-side emblazoning. Its possibility was discreetly kept under wraps.)


Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

August 16, 2012

The Count: In Midst of Barclays LIBOR Scandal, Big NY Times Story About Jay-Z Promotion of Barclays Center Mentions “Barclays” Twice, Scandal Naught

Noticing New York

If you wonder whether I am counting. . . I am.

Yesterday I posted a Noticing New York article observing that the biggest “Barclays” story in the New York Times, in fact the only story that comes up in a long list of stories if you search the Times site for “Barclays” is the Barclays LIBOR scandal. I therefore suggested that the Times start appropriately contextualizing its stories about the “Barclays” Center (the Ratner/Prokhorov basketball arena), opening awkwardly in the very midst of this scandal, by referring routinely to the arena as the “problematically-named Barclays Center” or something else of that informative ilk.

I wondered whether the Times would begin to do so or continue compartmentalizing the news. I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. No sooner had I posted the Noticing New York article than an article went up on the Times site (which was then featured on the next day’s front page) that was about Jay-Z’s promotion of the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” Center: The 1587-word story, ripped straight from the developer-subsidy collector’s press-releases, skillfully managed to mention the arena’s troublesome “Barclays” name only twice and to never mention the scandal associated with that name at all.


Posted by eric at 10:19 PM

Business as usual? Idling 18-wheeler parks on Pacific Street sidewalk, blocking residence; driver says, "I must wait for the arena"

Atlantic Yards Report

This is what happens when you cut corners and no one official takes charge.

From Atlantic Yards Watch: a tractor-trailer waiting to make a delivery to the Barclays Center on August 14 was parked, idling, on the sidewalk of Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, near the Newswalk building.

The photographer confronts the driver and gets a "for the arena" defense.

Here's the timing for key moments, with quotes from the driver:

00:20 “I've been here all f-ing day I wait here & I can't move!
02:30 "I must wait for the arena"
03:38 "the arena security guard say to me, just stay here"
07:16 other illegally idling & parked arena trucks in ‘Red No Standing’ zone leave when they are being taped
07:29 resident on bicycle complains that the truck is in her way
08:35 cameraman calls cops
08:50 other parked trucks leave


NoLandGrab: Why didn't they just call Jay-Z?!

Posted by eric at 5:50 PM

Atlantic Yards transportation plan Q&A: no remedies if goals aren't met; some on-site parking not pre-reserved; developer need not pay for transit service; arena website being updated; no signage to highlight residential area

Atlantic Yards Report

As I wrote yesterday, the mildly tweaked Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center final Transportation Demand Management Plan is far less interesting than the long Response to Public Comments document, which, despite the knotty problem of promoting prepaid parking that is not yet "seamless," not unexpectedly deflects nearly all the community concerns raised.

Here are some highlights, described further below:

  • there are no remedies if performance goals to reduce driving aren't met
  • sidewalks may be smaller than assumed, but they're still OK (according to an unreleased memo)
  • the Carlton Avenue Bridge may open with temporary street lighting/railing
  • there's no option to have farmer's market or other programming in the surface parking lot
  • only VIP and HOV slots at that 541-space on-site surface parking lot will be pre-reserved; some more expensive slots will be available for drive-up
  • no measures directly address on‐street parking
  • Forest City Ratner need not deploy all the money saved by not providing free MetroCards into promoting use of transit
  • the developer will not pay for increased transit service
  • "Barclays Center is in the process of updating and refining its website" regarding transportation issues
  • meters on area streets may be extended past 7 pm to deter arena-goers from parking all night
  • no special signage is planned to remind arena-goers they're in a residential area
  • "No Honking" signs are not considered effective and won't be installed
  • a traffic study examined 41 intersections, but a post-opening study will look at 56, including those facing traffic from BQE north of arena
  • "measures as necessary [will] address traffic and pedestrian conditions" while towers are built next to the arena.
  • those going to the 2/3 train from the new subway entrance will find a straight shot, while those going to the Q or 4/5 will have to climb additional stairs
  • event-related buses may be staged at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
  • Brooklyn‐bound gap trains will start at Whitehall Station or from a spur north of DeKalb Avenue
  • trucks staged from the Navy Yard won't be able to use Flushing Avenue, as once stated, but "will avoid traveling on secondary, neighborhood streets whenever possible"


Posted by eric at 5:40 PM

Don’t Believe Jay Z’s Brooklyn Nets Bamboozle Hype!

Diary of a Hollywood Street King
by Jacky Jasper

Not everyone is buying the spin.

Empire State of Mascot?

Jay Z seems to have paid top dollar just to land himself some basketball juice. That’s because the real real drop behind the Roc-A-Fella Records’ founder’s $1M investment into the Brooklyn Nets is surfacing.

Insiders reveal the cool mill Hova put into his home ball-team is worth just 1/15th of one-percent of the NBA franchise. That means, despite what Jay Z may want you to believe, the real man who owns the Brooklyn Nets is Russian billionaire – Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who owns 80% of the team.

Now, sources say Jigga forked out big bucks to white massa just to play mascot. Don’t believe me.. Ask Dame Dash.


Related content...

Can't Stop The Bleeding, Bruce Ratner – The Slickest Gangster Of ‘Em All

David Halfbinger’s study of Jay-Z’s far more than cosmetic involvement with the Brooklyn Nets (“With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook“, New York Times) is that rare combination of quality reportage and something that might well be fodder for Phil Mushnick’s next column. While Halbinger describes Jay-Z’s keen attention to details, his meeting of the minds with the sickening Brett Yormark and dedication to cross-promotion and branding, it’s the following paragraphs that suggest the savvy, cynical operator isn’t Sean Carter, but rather, developer Bruce Ratner.

NoLandGrab: Brett Yormark sickening? Check. Bruce Ratner cynical? Check check.

Hip-Hop Wired, Exclusive: Spike Lee Says Barclays Center Is “Not Better” Than Madison Square Garden

The Barclays Center has been the talk of basketball, Hip-Hop and Brooklyn, but one person unfazed by the hype is Spike Lee. The acclaimed director, and Brooklyn native is a devout New York Knick's fan and when asked if he will start supporting the Nets who have since moved to his borough, he refused to switch sides. “I'm not going with the Brooklyn Nets,” Lee tells Hip-Hop Wired.

Regardless of the attention that the center has received, Lee is not impressed. However, he will visit the arena— if need be. “I'll go, but I'm not a Brooklyn Nets fan,” he added. “It's not better than Madison Square Garden."

Posted by eric at 5:25 PM

Women Kicking Ass: MaryAnne Gilmartin


Not to be outdone by yesterday's Wall Street Journal and New York Times puff pieces on Bruce Ratner and Jay-Z, respectively, the Architizer Blog plays toady to Forest City Ratner's Maryanne Gilmartin.

By way of introduction, please tell us about one current project you’re most excited about.

Right now I am most excited about modular construction. We have been working for two years on developing this exciting modern means of construction, which we believe will allow us to build world-class residential high-rise buildings more efficiently and more effectively in the urban core, partnering with union labor.

My fascination with modular stems from the fact that it’s a massive innovation that will revolutionize high-rise construction. Like all “disruptive” technologies—think of GPS versus printed maps—it will bring about wholesale transformation and has the potential to transform how we build in NYC and throughout the U.S. Modular is a powerful proposition for all cities that struggle with developing middle and moderate income housing stock.

We’d love to hear a bit about how you got where you are today. Was it all part of a grand plan, or did chance play a role? Did you have a mentor that guided your professional growth?

I believe in serendipity, hard work and living with purpose. In the real estate industry, you are what you build.

The construction industry has been historically male-dominated. In your mind, is gender still an issue in the profession, or have we broken through the “glass ceiling”?

This can be true, though in my case I have has a great mentor in Bruce Ratner, the CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, who runs his shop as a meritocracy.


NoLandGrab: Meritocracy? New York's taxpayers might think it a kleptocracy.

Posted by eric at 5:14 PM

The MTA and a Flushing Meadows soccer stadium

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

More on the potential park-grab for a Major League Soccer stadium, which may also include part of a rail yard — and we know how well that always goes.

Despite two new baseball stadiums and a basketball arena, New York City’s appetite for sports venues has seemingly not been sated as rumors are swirling of Major League Soccer’s interest in Queens. Looking to expand into New York City proper, the U.S. professional soccer league has its eye on a parcel of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and although these plans have a long way to go, the MTA has a role to play yet.

Stories and support for a Queens soccer stadium have been percolating out of Albany for much of the summer. The story took off earlier this week when Fredric Dicker of The Post ran a piece relying heavily on a few anonymous sources. MLS, he alleged, is nearing a deal for the stadium. The catch is that the city would have to give up at least nine acres of park land in Flushing Meadows, and the MTA would have to sell some of the land it owns near the LIRR tracks and Corona Yard.

For years, we’ve watched a parade of MTA higher-ups sell off authority land for next to nothing. The sweetheart deal the Authority gave Bruce Ratner for his Atlantic Yards development has rankled politicians and Brooklynites for years, and even the Hudson Yards deal had to be further incentivized for the MTA to realize any money. Lhota though seems to get what’s at stake. The MTA isn’t in a position to give up its assets without drawing value for them, and if the time comes to sell some land in Queens for a soccer stadium, the MTA should maximize its revenue. That day though may be a long time coming.


Posted by eric at 5:02 PM

Prospect Heights Lot Bought up for $5.75M


Public records show the the awkwardly sized, 31,000-square-foot parking lot on St. Marks Avenue, between Washington Avenue and Underhill, sold for $5.75 million. Here are details from the old listing: “It has been operated as a public parking lot and can continue as such since the immediate area has very limited parking. The site is also ripe for residential development, being close to Flatbush Avenue, public transportation, [and] Atlantic Yards…”


Posted by eric at 4:56 PM

August 15, 2012

With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook

The New York Times
by David M. Halbfinger

It's a broadsheet war! Not to be outdone by today's puffball Wall Street Journal interview with Bruce Ratner, The Times counters by tickling Jay-Z with feathers.

Mr. Ratner may have thought he was getting little more than a limited partner with a boldface name and a youthful following that could prove useful someday. But Jay-Z’s contributions have dwarfed the $1 million he invested nine years ago. His influence on the project has been wildly disproportionate to his ownership stake — a scant one-fifteenth of one percent of the team. And so is the money he stands to make from it.

Now, with the long-delayed Barclays Center arena nearing opening night in September and the relocated Nets bidding in earnest for Brooklyn’s loyalties, Jay-Z will perform eight sold-out shows to kick things off. But away from center stage he has put his mark on almost every facet of the enterprise, his partners say.

He helped design the team logos and choose the team’s stark black-and-white color scheme, and personally appealed to National Basketball Association officials to drop their objections to it (The N.B.A., insiders said, thought that African-American athletes did not look good on TV in black, an assertion that a league spokesman adamantly denied). He counseled arena executives on what kind of music to play during games. (“Less Jersey,” he urged, pushing niche artists like Santigold over old favorites like Bon Jovi.)

He even coached them on how to screen patrons for weapons without appearing too heavy-handed. (“Be mindful,” he advised oracularly, “and be sensitive.”)


NoLandGrab: Silly us! Here we were concerned about the arena's security plan, when Hova had it under control all along.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, NYT: Jay-Z & Nets have "written a new playbook for... strategic celebrity investor" (and generating unskeptical publicity)

"Jay-Z’s contributions have dwarfed the $1 million he invested nine years ago," the New York Times observes in a none-too-tough profile just posted, adding that "he and the Nets have effectively written a new playbook for how to deploy a strategic celebrity investor."

The Times reports:

Mr. Carter’s involvement frustrated opponents of Mr. Ratner’s development plans in Brooklyn who saw the arena and proposed residential and office towers as a subsidized land grab that could ruin the neighborhood....

“Bringing in someone who grew up in public housing, with a rags-to-riches story, who could identify with Brooklyn and African-Americans, that was slick,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James, a critic of the project. Mr. Ratner played down Mr. Carter’s importance in overcoming opposition. “Had Jay-Z not come along,” he said, “we’d still have an arena.”

Ratner's right. Jay-Z wasn't important in overcoming opposition; actual full-time Brooklynites like the leaders of BUILD and ACORN, signatories of the not-so-credible Community Benefits Agreement, were far more important, given that they brought people to rallies and public hearings.

Jay-Z was important in generating publicity, and in getting journalists/tv hosts like Rosanna Scotto to turn into simpering fans. And he's still generating publicity, as with this article.

That missing disclosure

I don't know what the Times's policy is any more: do they no longer feel obligated to disclose the parent company's business relationship with Mr. Ratner? Wouldn't that prompt readers to be a wee bit skeptical?

Posted by eric at 9:57 PM

The audacious timing of the Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management plan: prepaid parking not working (but no consequences); two important documents released after comment period

Atlantic Yards Report

The final Atlantic Yards Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, and the Response to Comments were both made public today, about two weeks after they should have been released, by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing the project.

Even with the delay, ESD and Forest City Ratner could not obscure a significant glitch: a cornerstone of the plan to deter arena-goers from seeking on-street parking, an online parking reservation system, still isn't ready. (The Q&A promises that "full implementation [is] expected in the week of August 13.")

In other words, arena operators have sold hundreds of thousands of tickets without being able to sell parking at the same time. Now it's possible that many of them will try to buy parking later, but the promised "seamless" process simply isn't in place.

No way to comment

The Q&A document cites two important documents that were released after the comment period ended July 3, thus precluding public comment.

For example, an assessment of arena-area sidewalks "by Philip Habib & Associates in August 2012 identified a number of locations where sidewalk widths will likely be narrower" than previously assumed, though the locations "are still projected to operate at acceptable levels."

However, no one's seen that document, so it's impossible to evaluate.

Meanwhile, in early July, the city Department of Transportation released a study recommending against a residential parking permit system around the arena. There was no way to submit comments to ESD, though the study had many flaws.


Posted by eric at 9:50 PM

With Discordant Synchronicity The “Barclays” Center Will Open At LIBOR Scandal’s Peak: What The New York Times Is And Isn’t Covering

Noticing New York

Good news reporting needs to be integrative. You make reported news events more meaningful to your readership when you acknowledge the broader context in which those events are taking place and how they likely relate to your readership community. Compartmentalization of the news may sidestep cognitive dissonance but it is nonetheless a disservice to anyone wanting to make sense of the world.

I am thinking about this because I am thinking about how the New York Times is reporting the LIBOR interest rate-rigging scandal in connection with which the name “Barclays” has become a new shorthand synonym for how low the ethical standards of Wall Street can sink. How will the Times relate that reporting to what is relevant to residents of its home town, New York City?

A Times Search Centering on "Barclays" vs. One Centering on "Barclays Center"

If you do a search of the New York Times site for the word “Barclays” everything that comes up first is relevant to the scandal notoriously besmirching the bank’s name; see below.

Conversely, with the Barclays LIBOR scandal so prominently in news in recent weeks, if you do a 30 day search of the Times site for the term “Barclays Center,” the new Forest City Ratner/Mikhail Prokhorov-owned basketball arena scheduled to open soon, and therefore destined to open contemporaneously with criminal indictments of Barclays traders, you get a list of hype and hoopla articles about the center that make no mention of the darkening cloud of the Barclays scandal; see below.


Posted by eric at 9:42 PM

Final arena Transportation Demand Management plan has a few tweaks: 20%/$5 HOV discount; no Dean Street entrance to parking; Click and Park still hasn't signed up all garages

Atlantic Yards Report

Today the Empire State Development Corporation posted not only a long Q&A on the Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, but also a revised TDM plan.

The Q&A is a more interesting document, because it mainly deflects community concerns about such things as parking on neighborhood streets; I'll have more on it tomorrow. The revised TDM plan, however, contains relatively few changes from the draft issued in May, so I'll focus on them now. (Both documents are also posted below.)

Click through for Norman Oder's rundown of the changes.


Posted by eric at 9:38 PM

The Wall Street Journal Pitches Big Fluffy Cotton Balls to Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Surprise, surprise, the world's greatest man, Bruce Ratner, gets fluffed by The Wall Street Journal:

At one point Ratner is asked if he is planning on running for office. Why would he do that, he already has far more control over NYC and NYS government then he'd have as a lowly elected official.


Posted by eric at 9:03 PM

FCRC removes trees planted by residents, shrinks landscaping around arena parking lot

Atlantic Yards Watch

Bruce Ratner's "civic development company" just ripped out yet more trees in Prospect Heights.


An existing area of greenery planted and maintained by community members was removed yesterday by FCRC. To the left above is the work in progress on Carlton Avenue between Pacific and Dean Streets. To the right is the former appearance of the block. The sidewalk forms the western perimeter of what will be the new arena patron parking lot.

If the plantings had been allowed to remain, the area may have been the single place around the arena patron parking lot to meet the 7 foot landscaped perimeter standard required of other parking lots in NYC. Instead, the landscaped perimeter will apparently be reduced to 4 feet on Carlton Avenue like the other sidewalks surrounding the lot.

The arbor vitae were planted in that location three years ago. They were paid for by the private contributions of the residents of the block and a grant from the Citizen's Committee. They replaced similar plantings installed in the same location years earlier by the developer Boymelgreen. As part of the grant, and also at the community's request, NYC Parks placed a number of street trees along the street in that location.

FCRC and the State have rejected calls from local residents and the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for the site to meet NYC DCP guidelines for the landscaping of surface parking lots. Features of the lot that have already been built, such as the setting of the fence line only 4 feet inside the property line, already do not conform.


Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

Bruce Ratner Talks Brooklyn Nets & Barclays Center

The Wall Street Journal

Softball all-star Lee Hawkins sits down with America's Greatest Human Being.

Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, talks to WSJ's Lee Hawkins about the new Barclays Center arena and his shift from majority owner of the New Jersey Nets to owning 20 percent of the new Brooklyn Nets. Plus a look at upcoming Barclay's concerts featuring Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan, and many other major artists.


NoLandGrab: He's humble, he's winsome — he's just plain awesome.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ interview with Bruce Ratner: "I am about making sure people have jobs" and "We work just on the merits"

Norman Oder debunks the bunk.

Would you believe that Wall Street Journal interviewer Lee Hawkins, whose beat is The Business of Celebrity, makes local columnists like Denis Hamill and Andrea Peyser, known for fawning treatment of developer Bruce Ratner, look like hard-nosed investigative reporters?

Hawkins, as if reading off a Ratner-provided script, not only hit all the talking points, in some cases he made the point for his interviewer himself. He started off with the inevitable mention that the Barclays Center arena would open 55 years after the Dodgers left.

"55 long, hard, Brooklyn years," responded Ratner, in affirmation, doubling down on the cliche.

Click through for the blow-by-blow.

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

Mayor formally requests expansion of 78th Precinct; meeting on public safety set for August 22

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote last week about the expansion of the 78th Precinct to encompass all of the Atlantic Yards project as well as the malls north of it. Yesterday, Mayor Mike Bloomberg formally requested (below) the City Council to approve new boundaries, with a new Sector K.

The Council must agree, though no dissent has surfaced.

Public meeting

Also, given concerns about policing the arena and environs, there will be a meeting at the precinct on August 22.

An announcement from Council Member Letitia James's office:

ATTENTION: Barclays Area Community Safety Meeting; 8/22

With the upcoming opening of Barclay Arena, and various Community Safety Concerns:

Please Join Council Member Letitia James and Captain Michael Ameri (of Brooklyn's 78th Precinct) to discuss and answer questions regarding the safety and quality of life concerns in residential communities after the September arena opening.

• NYPD’s 78th Precinct will be responsible for policing the arena as well as enforcement of traffic and parking rules, protection of pedestrian safety and regulation of public behavior within a one-half mile radius around the arena block.

When: August 22nd, 2012
Time: 6:00PM
Where: 78th Precinct, 65 6th Avenue Corner of Bergen Street (4th Floor Court Room)


Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

Honda named as official vehicle of the Brooklyn Nets

Sports Business Digest

The choice of NoLandGrab's next company car just got a little easier.

American Honda Motor Company has signed a multi-faceted marketing agreement with the Barclays Center and the NBA’s newest relocated team; the Brooklyn Nets. The move marks Honda’s first-ever major sponsorship with a sports and entertainment venue on the east coast. Under the marketing agreement, Honda will now be known as the official vehicle of both the Nets and the Barclays Center.


Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

The final Transportation Demand Management plan should emerge today

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote yesterday about the delay in the Atlantic Yards Transportation Demand Management plan.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, said late yesterday that the plan should be posted today.


NoLandGrab: Kinda feels like Christmas morning, doesn't it? Hope you wanted a lump of coal.

Posted by eric at 9:47 AM

August 14, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: new medians, subway station progress, arena site work, and some (purportedly) no-impact traffic diversion

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 8/13/12 (and embedded below) and released today by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, describes progress at the new subway station, and a good amount of visible work on streets and sidewalks.

Third-shift work, of course, continues, in the effort to get the arena ready for a Sept. 28 opening.

For example, new medians are being constructed along Atlantic Avenue, the excavation and grading of the plaza at the northeast corner of the arena block (to be used temporarily for bike parking) has been completed, and broadcast and power conduits for the tv truck parking lot at Dean Street and Sixth avenue should be installed.

Also note that, according to the alert, a flagger posted at the corner of Dean Street and Carlton Avenue is redirecting traffic from coming north as work is done at the Carlton Avenue Bridge, but "[t]his is not having an impact on the traffic flow in the area." According to Atlantic Yards Watch, that's not so at all.


Posted by eric at 9:29 PM

TONIGHT 7pm: double-screening of The Vanishing City and Battle for Brooklyn



Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

When is final Transportation Demand Management Plan coming? It was due in the "beginning of August"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan for the Barclays Center, aiming to dissuade driving and stress use of public transportation, was delayed for months, with a draft initially due last December but issued only in May.

So maybe it's not surprising that the final TDM plan is a week or two late. A message from Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development (ESD) promised an early August release:

The public has until July 3, 2012 to submit comments and questions on the draft TDM Plan to AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov. ESD will coordinate with other agencies to compile responses to all questions and will post the final TDM Plan along with responses to all questions by the beginning of August.

We're just about two weeks into August by now, so I checked yesterday with Hankin about the timetable.

I haven't heard back yet.


Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

As Honda signs on, Barclays Center provides "value and exposure opportunities" for "top brands"

Atlantic Yards Report

As Nets CEO Brett Yormark (now also CEO of the Barclays Center) said three years ago, "We’ve got a young man who runs our business communications department and his responsibility is every day to get a press release out."

Here's today's free placement in the go-to Daily News, Barclays Center installs 70,000 pound Daktronics scoreboard inside 18,200 arena opening Sept. 28: Hi-def $7.5-million scoreboard loaded with gadgets, including a Kiss Cam. It measures three stories high and was delivered to Brooklyn from South Dakota in pieces:

“It will be the centerpiece of the arena,” said Chip Foley, director of building technology for the project.

Honda signs on

Here's yesterday's press release, picked up in a few specialized outlets...


Related content...

NY Daily News, Barclays Center installs 70,000 pound Daktronics scoreboard inside 18,200 arena opening Sept. 28

Breaking news: basketball arena has scoreboard!

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM


Madame Noire
by Brande Victorian

A lot of you were feeling Harry Belafonte’s remark last week that Beyonce and Jay-Z have turned their back on social responsibility. Though many of you argued that Jayonce don’t have any obligation to give back to the community, most agreed that social activists they are not.

One person who obviously doesn’t agree with this claim is Beyonce herself—or her people. Today Bey’s rep sent an email to the Wall Street Journal, which was said to be “An abbreviated list of the unselfish work Beyoncé has done and continues to do.” According to WSJ:

The list included co-founding The Survivor Foundation “a multi-purpose community outreach facility in downtown Houston”; donating “100K in 2008 to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund to aid Texas victims of Hurricane Ike”; performing in “MTV’s Hope For Haiti Now! Benefit in addition to making a generous monetary donation,” among many other charitable activities.

Though those efforts are certainly worthy causes, I don’t get the feeling that this was the type of social responsibility Mr. Belafonte was speaking of. As a man who has taken a stand against racism, sexism, and war, I imagine his reaction might be that anyone can throw money at an issue, the question is what do you stand for?


NoLandGrab: Presumably Mrs. Z didn't include this performance among her charitable acts.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

Queens MLS stadium could start construction by spring! Or not

Field of Schemes
by Neil de Mause

Neil de Mause's report on efforts to locate a soccer stadium in Queens' Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (since New York City has plenty of surplus park space, we're guessing) elicited this comment from reader John Bladen:

Surely the MLS guys are missing the obvious here, Neil? I mean, Citi Field has been in place for, well, several years now. It clearly qualifies as a blighted landscape (as would the rest of the park and Arthur Ashe stadium) under the court approved process used by Mr. Ratner to ram through his Atlantic yards proposal (which, of course, hasn’t been finished, and will never be finished as it was originally designed and sold to the public… or at least the legislators who gave approval).

I say, use eminent domain. Declare the whole complex (including the trees, which are a danger to lightning, in the words of the late great Spike Milligan) blighted, evict the moribund tenants, bulldoze everything, and build whatever you want.

Is this a Big Time City or isn’t it?


Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

Brooklyn rebounds as the new bohemia

USA Today
by Rick Hampson

The trendspotters at USA Today set their time machine to 2005 and discover that Brooklyn is heating up.

At the end of another disappointing season, Brooklyn Dodgers fans would console themselves with the refrain, "Wait 'til next year!" The team is long gone, but for Brooklyn, next year is here.

The arrival of the NBA Nets gives Brooklyn its first major league team since the Dodgers' departure for Los Angeles in 1957, and something else: more evidence that, as its denizens claim, the borough that was once a punch line is now the coolest place in America, a land of rooftop farms and pop-up art galleries, of haircuts, eyeglasses, hats and body piercings so chic that even Parisians utter, "Très Brooklyn!"

"People I know from London don't want to go to Manhattan," says Kari Browne, 33, a former broadcast news producer who last month opened a cafe in the up-and-coming Victorian neighborhood of Ditmas Park. "They want to come to Brooklyn."


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Behind "Brooklyn rebounds as the new bohemia": does arena mean "Brooklyn is back" or something more complicated?

The article describes the project thusly:

The New Jersey Nets' relocation to the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn is a big reason why guard Deron Williams re-signed with the team and why the league's best center, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, once tried to join him.

When the arena opens this fall with concerts by Jay-Z and Barbra Streisand and the first Nets' game, it will cap one of the more remarkable reversals of fortune in U.S. urban history.

Barclays is part of a planned $5 billion high-rise residential-commercial complex that community groups have criticized for abusing the power of eminent domain, uprooting residents and ripping up the neighborhood fabric.

But to Fred Siegel, a New York writer and political activist, the project says: "Brooklyn is back."

It's interesting to hear Fred Siegel quoted as saying that the Barclays Center indicates that "Brooklyn is back." I bet he said more, or would have, if they asked. Siegel also has called arena developer Bruce Ratner a "master of subsidy" and questioned whether there was any reason to provide public subsidies for the arena.

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

For Better or Worse, Barclays is Becoming a Brooklyn Fixture

by Janet Upadhye

Definitely worse. And how is something that isn't even open yet "becoming a fixture?"

Barclays is quickly becoming part of everyday life for Brooklynites. Now less than 50 days away from the Barclays Center's September 28 grand opening, excitement and fears are building in communities close to the arena.

And amidst the cacophony of welcoming cheers and voices of dissent, Barclays is steadily building its image as the friendly neighbor.


“We are putting the Brooklyn community first in everything we do,” said Nets and Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum. “We are continuing to plan new programs that will help us further our goal of giving back and bettering the lives of those in the surrounding communities.”


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, What's missing from "For Better or Worse, Barclays is Becoming a Brooklyn Fixture"

As I commented, missing from this article is recognition of significant public subsidies and tax breaks for the arena, as well as the gift of arena naming rights to sell. You can add up all that charity--how does that compare to the $10M+ per year Forest City Ratner gets from Barclays for naming rights?

As for the "2,000 positions," that's not 2,000 full-time jobs. Even according to Forest City, that's 1,240 full-time equivalent. The real number, I suspect, is even lower.

Here's how the Barclays Nets Community Alliance has claimed credit for "funding" playground refurbishment mostly funded by the public, unmentioned in your link to NY Post coverage above.

Posted by eric at 10:05 AM

August 13, 2012

The 'Dwightmare' is over

ESPN New York
by Mike Mazzeo

As we'd been predicting for months (years?), Dwight Howard will not be playing for the Brooklyn Nets. Not this year. Not next year. Not ever.

Well, Nets fans, the "Dwightmare" is over.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that Dwight Howard will become a Laker -- and, just like that, a new NBA superpower is born.

Here's how the four-team blockbuster trade breaks down:

Lakers get: D-12

Nuggets get: Andre Iguodala

76ers get: Andrew Bynum, Jason Richardson

Magic get: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, a protected first-rounder from each of the teams

The Nets had been trying to get Howard, dating back to last offseason. They tried, tried and tried again.


Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams lost interest in Dwight Howard sweepstakes well before Thursday's trade to the Lakers

Yeah, right.

For the first time in over a year, Deron Williams and the Nets operated without the haloed hope that somehow, some way, Dwight Howard would land in Brooklyn.

But for Williams, the ideal of the Howard shortcut had already become tiresome and disappointing, long before the best center in the NBA was shipped to the Lakers in a four-team, 12-player blockbuster.

“Mentally I wasn’t in the Dwight sweepstakes anymore. It got kinda old. I’m happy for him. I know he wanted to get out of Orlando. He did that and he’s going to a great franchise so I wish him the best of luck.”

A league source told the Daily News that a stumbling block in negotiations was lingering animosity stemming from the Magic’s belief the Nets illegally contacted Howard in December without Orlando’s permission.

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

With fewer than 46 days to go, the Barclays Center still hasn't hired a Community Affairs Manager; nor has there been announcement of "community advisory task force"

Atlantic Yards Report

With fewer than 46 days to go before the 9/28/12 opening, the Barclays Center is apparently still trying to hire a Community Affairs Manager, the "arena’s point person on all aspects of community affairs... responsible for attending and representing the Barclays Center at community meetings... managing and implementing community involvement activities including philanthropic initiatives of the Barclays Center and Arena Affiliates."

I say "apparently" because the job is still advertised on the page for arena employment, and no one from arena operator Forest City Ratner has responded to my query.

Presumably someone will get hired, but the longer it takes, the longer the learning curve. It may not be easy to find the right person, but the lack of such a hire suggests it's less of a priority than other things, such as selling tickets to events.

Community outreach was key, for example, to support for the liquor license for the arena from Community Board 6, which on 5/11/12 requested a "community advisory task force" that "should be appointed and convened without delay." (There's a State Liquor Authority board meeting on the license on August 29.)

An attorney for the arena promised that, "As part of the existing Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet structure, Forest City Ratner Companies has agreed to a sub-committee on quality of life issues." There's been no public announcement of this sub-committee.


NoLandGrab: You'd think they'd at least fulfill the little promises, but no.

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

Daily News exclusive news/advertising hybrid: John Legend will inaugurate branded Barclays Center theater

Atlantic Yards Report

The Daily News has an exclusive, though I wouldn't call it a scoop, headlined R&B star John Legend to christen Barclays Center intimate 6,000-seat theater: Tickets for Oct. 29 show go on sale Friday. Arena's Cushman & Wakefield Theater carved into future home of the Brooklyn Nets.

From the article:

The Barclays Center will include a new intimate theater space — and it’s set to be christened by a Legend, the Daily News has learned.

R&B star John Legend will be the first artist to open the arena’s Cushman & Wakefield Theater, a small-stage setting cordoned off within the larger venue.

Tickets for the Oct. 29 show go on sale Friday.

The micro theater — created with a specially designed curtain system — can seat between 4,000 and 6,000 guests. The full arena seats 18,200 for basketball games and up to 19,000 for larger concerts.

“It makes the stage feel like the focal point in the performance,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said about the cozier space.

The thick black curtains will be stored on top of the arena’s rafters and mechanically lowered when needed for smaller events, including local music festivals, boxing matches and children theater acts.

Global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield was entitled to the naming rights for the theater as a founding partner that contributes at least $2 million a year.

Now how exactly did the Daily News "learn" this information? Yormark clearly told them, gaining bounce from the "exclusive," accompanied by two photos and a graphic, shortly before issuing a general press release.

The operative quote here is from British newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe:

News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.


Related content...

NY Daily News, R&B star John Legend to christen Barclays Center intimate 6,000-seat theater

Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

Claiming Brooklyn: Nets/arena CEO Yormark issues congratulations to gold medalist Williams on behalf of "Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

A tweet from Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark:

Well, the Nets' Deron Williams, like any gold medalist, deserves congratulations, but Jersey-to-BK guy Yormark is pushing it when claiming to speak for "Brooklyn."


NoLandGrab: Brooklyn is a place, not a brand.

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

August 12, 2012

Forest City promotes arena, prefab to Forum for Urban Design; will the arena "begin the substantial and divisive redevelopment" of neighborhoods nearby?

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards builders have recently been promoting the project to the Forum for Urban Design, an organization that "convenes the world’s preeminent leaders in architecture, urban planning, design and development -- as well as professionals in government, education and journalism whose work intersects with the built environment -- to discuss and debate the defining issues that face our cities."

Here are the summaries from the Forum, with a few comments from me.


On April 18, the Forum for Urban Design convened to discuss the tallest building in the world to be built with modular construction. Bruce Ratner and MaryAnne Gilmartin of Forest City Ratner and Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects presented their ambitious 32 story prefab tower at Atlantic Yards.
Although modular construction has been experimented with for a century, few high-rises have been built using the technique. The latest, built outside of London, reaches twenty-five stories using precast concrete. The first tower of the Atlantic Yards project, B2, will reach seven stories higher, and will be the first with a steel structure.
Ms. Gilmartin and Mr. Sharples explained that B2 would act as Architecture R&D (Research & Development), the first of a dozen or so towers to experiment with modular construction. Devised during the deep recession and amidst vehement community opposition, the prefab towers at Atlantic Yards will accomplish two things: shortened construction time (an estimated six to eight months) and lower construction costs. And with a dozen towers in the works at Atlantic Yards, the process could only become more efficient as each tower is completed.
Mr. Ratner and Mr. Sharples are hopeful that prefab towers could very well become a fixture in major cities across the United States. But only after completing B2 will they know for sure.

The "vehement community opposition" predates the recession; the implication appears to be that shortened construction time would have less of a community impact. Unmentioned is how this process, by lowering construction costs, would upend promises Forest City Ratner made to construction unions.


Three months leading up to its inauguration by Jay-Z, the Forum hosted a tour with Forest City Ratner of the Barclays Center, the arena at the heart of the Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn. Winthrop Hoyt, Assistant Vice President of Development in charge of the arena project, sorted through the project’s history, from the Gehry master plan through the new arena design by SHoP Architects to its scheduled completion at the end of September 2012.
Aside from the challenges of building a 15,000 seat arena in an urban setting, the Barclays Center had the added hurdles of the New York MTA and the LIRR, subway and commuter rails that required approval at every step of the process. Additionally, the incredible difficulty of building an arena in a lukewarm economic climate required a more affordable construction process. SHoP Architects managed to pick up the project and accomplish both, with prefabricated steel cladding and a scheme for retractable seating that would allow for versatile uses with a far smaller footprint.
Upon its completion in September 2012, the Barclays Center will be a cornerstone project in the evolving cultural infrastructure of Brooklyn, as well as a new icon for Downtown Brooklyn. Although the housing component of the Atlantic Yards will not be completed for several more years, the arena will likely begin the substantial and divisive redevelopment of the Prospect Heights and Fort Greene neighborhoods.

The arena's about 18,000 seats for basketball, potentially more (but often less) for other events, depending on the size of the stage and the importance of 360-degree views. Actually, "retractable seating" hasn't been mentioned much. The New York Times reported in January, regarding plans for hockey:

Retractable seats will mostly be collapsed on one end, closest to the Atlantic Terminal side, and therefore the alignment around the rink will resemble a horseshoe.

Will the arena "likely begin the substantial and divisive redevelopment of the Prospect Heights and Fort Greene neighborhoods"? I think the "substantial" part already happened. The "divisive" part, surely, was accelerated by the announcement of Atlantic Yards.

As for "several more years," it's a real wildcard.

The "incredible difficulty of building and arena in a lukewarm economic climate" should be counterbalanced by the significant opportunity for sponsorships and publicity in the nation's media market.


Posted by steve at 4:16 PM

Nets GM Billy King answers NYT Magazine's softball questions; here are a few that didn't get asked

Atlantic Yards Report

The typically chatty "Questions for" column in the New York Times Magazine today addresses Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King, in The New Net Worth. The conversation ranges to King's political ambitions, his soap opera habit, his thoughts on the Kris Humphries-Kim Kardashian nuptials, and turmoil at the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was president.

Only three questions, opening up, focus on the current job:

The principal owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, is something of a mysterious character. What’s it like being interviewed by a 6-foot-8 Russian oligarch?
I asked him at the end, If I get this job, do you want me to call you with reports or send you e-mails? And Mikhail goes, You can, but I don’t have a cellphone and I don’t have a laptop.
Do you ever hear from Jay-Z, who is a minority owner?
A lot of times he’ll shoot me an e-mail with questions. The first time I got an e-mail from him was pretty cool. Jay-Z sent you an e-mail.
What does he typically want to know?
How he can help. When Deron Williams was making his decision, he was struggling for a place to live. Jay-Z goes, “Tell him I’ll call him tomorrow and I’ll help.” It’s a lot about being able to relate to being wealthy, being young, being African-American. He can relate to them where maybe I can’t or Mikhail can’t.

Here are a couple of more provocative questions that didn't apparently didn't come up:

  • Have you ever asked Prokhorov how he got rich in an atmosphere of pervasive corruption?
  • How'd you feel about having to promote Jay-Z as the face of the team instead of the rather mediocre collection of players on the court?
  • Once Prokhorov decided to rather painlessly open his wallet to overpay for a better team now that the Nets are in Brooklyn, do you feel any guilt about providing New Jersey fans with such a mediocre team?
  • How does basketball as a business work? You go from steadily dangling center Brook Lopez in trade talks, then, when that trade falls through, celebrate him as a Brooklyn Net.


Posted by steve at 4:09 PM

August 11, 2012

"The Case of the Brooklyn Basketball Arena" makes the Commercial Observer's list of "15 Most Fascinating New York Real Estate Cases"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Commercial Observer, in its list of the 15 Most Fascinating New York Real Estate Cases of the 21st Century, offers The Case of the Brooklyn Basketball Arena:

To its opponents, Forest City Ratner’s controversial plan to build a basketball arena and 16 commercial and residential high-rise buildings above the former Atlantic Terminal rail yards had all the elements of a land grab, much like the ones orchestrated decades earlier by Robert Moses.
But with few exceptions, the cadre of judges who ruled on the case between 2003 and 2011 has thought differently, deciding that, besides seizing property from residents in Prospect Heights, the powerful Cleveland-based developer should go ahead with plans to build in one of Brooklyn’s most congested neighborhoods, bypass city land-review procedures and amend many of its original plans.
A group of rent stabilized tenants near the arena’s footprint and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the most visible opponents of the project, filed approximately eight lawsuits over six years, charging the developer with a litany of accusations, including failing to provide an independent appraisal of the yards.
And while the opponents have claimed several small victories, the developer and its supporters have declared victory in nearly two dozen cases.
Despite the deluge of legal attacks, the Brooklyn Nets season opener is set to happen this fall. But even before that happens, Jay-Z, the hip-hop impresario and Brooklyn Nets investor, is set to perform at the Barclays Center later this month.


This gets complicated, so let me offer several smaller corrections and one larger one. The first ruling in the list of cases was in 2006, on a case challenging Forest City Ratner's demolition plans, as well as the state's use of a lawyer who formerly worked for the developer.

Jay-Z's first concert is Sept. 28, not "this month." And if there were "approximately eight lawsuits," how could there be "nearly two dozen cases"? (Maybe "rulings.") And the cases were filed not merely by rent-stabilized tenants and DDDB.

Yes, DDDB organized most of the cases, but the eminent domain cases involved individual plaintiffs, while the challenge to the environmental review, as well as the challenge to the MTA deal revision and the 2009 approval by the Empire State Development Corporation, involved numerous civic groups.

The latter case, in fact, was combined with another case filed by the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, involving more civic groups. And elected officials signed on to two of the cases.


Most importantly, the opponents (and others simply seeking accountability) didn't merely claim "small victories."

In three decisions, two of them community victories, state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman criticized a failure of transparency by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state agency overseeing the project, in failing to study the impacts of a potential 25-year project buildout.

First, in March 2010, Friedman upheld the ESDC, despite criticizing the agency's "deplorable lack of transparency."

Then, November 2010, she cited "what appears to be yet another failure of transparency" and requested new findings.

Then, in July 2011, she concluded:

ESDC’s use of the 10 year build date in approving the 2009 MGPP [Modified General Project Plan] lacked a rational basis and was arbitrary and capricious.

The ESDC and Forest City Ratner appealed, only to be smacked down by the Appellate Division, which unanimously stated:

We agree with Supreme Court that ESDC's use of a 10-year build date under these circumstances lacks a rational basis and is arbitrary and capricious.

By the standards of the state court system, those rulings are significant, since the "rational basis" bar is a low one, and judges rarely intervene into agency decisions. The defendants, who didn't have an automatic appeal at the Court of Appeals, asked for leave to appeal, but were denied.


Posted by steve at 6:33 PM

August 10, 2012

As "impending storm" of arena opening approaches, worries about foot traffic, talk about Neighborhood Protection Plan, and the need for community vigilance

Atlantic Yards Report

There's "an impending storm" regarding the opening of the Barclays Center September 28, according to Council Member Steve Levin, and while he expressed measured optimism that preparation and coordination can alleviate problems, and perhaps even lead to elements of the proposed Neighborhood Protection Plan, some residents at the same meeting expressed much more dismay.

One sign of progress, described at a monthly meeting Levin holds with constituents to address potential impacts: the assignment of the 78th Precinct to police the arena, as well as the rest of the Atlantic Yards footprint. Then again, issues, like police parking on the street, remain unresolved.

Limited line-up

Though officials from the mayor's office, and Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing the project, were invited to the August 8 meeting, those presenting were limited to NYPD officials and Chris Hrones of the Department of Transportation.

(At the meeting, held at the YWCA at Third and Atlantic avenues, Forest City Ratner sent an intern in the audience to take notes.)


Posted by eric at 12:59 PM

Barclays Center pre-paid parking is still not ready; no comment from Forest City Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote August 1 how, despite promises in May from a Forest City Ratner consultant that arena event-goers would find prepaid parking "seamless with the Barclays Center software," arena operators hade sold hundreds of thousands of tickets to upcoming events without being able to offer that option.

I also reported that, according to a phone representative of Click and Park, which offers prepaid parking for venues like Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, its web page linked to the new Brooklyn arena would be ready by August 6.

It wasn't. I called August 7, and was told it should be ready by today. It's not, though the day is long. I couldn't get a comment from either Forest City Ratner nor its consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering.


Posted by eric at 12:54 PM

Traffic signal, street lights back at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street intersection after being out for a few nights (at least); why didn't anyone official step up sooner?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on the dangerous situation at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

An update on Atlantic Yards Watch August 7:

the lights were out again last night (August 7, 2012) around 11pm. Still no signs, no traffic agents. Still dangerous.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, Empire State Development, responded earlier today to my query:

Just got word that DOT repaired this issue last night. They repaired a defective cable.

The lingering questions: How long was this out? Why did it take even a few days to repair? And if the intersection was dangerous, why didn't anyone official or working nearby--including the police department, the Department of Transportation, and Forest City Ratner and its contractors--set up a safety protocol?

After all, according to Atlantic Yards Watch, while the light was out, there was an accident, apparently, though it's not clear exactly what happened.


NoLandGrab: Surely this has nothing to do with the headlong rush to complete construction of Bruce Ratner's basketball palace by September 28th.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, At edge of area block, Sixth Avenue becomes dangerous: two accidents in recent days

The corner of Sixth Avenue and Dean Street, at the southeast corner of the arena block, has been disturbingly busy lately--not only were streetlights and traffic signals out, now back, apparently, there was a significant accident recently, caused, perhaps, by the lack of a traffic signal.

One block north, at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, an errant construction vehicle did major damage to a pole with a traffic signal, causing pedestrians to walk in the street, not the safest path.

Anyone observing the chaos has to wonder: what would be the ripple effects if such impacts occurred when the arena next door were up and operating, generating far more traffic?

Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Black-owned Businesses, Which Helped Fulton Street Survive, Fall Victim to its Revival

The Brooklyn Ink
by Shayna Estulin

Although there was widespread public and private disinvestment from Fort Greene in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Sutton said that black entrepreneurs saw the potential to change a black ghetto into an enclave of business and culture that would attract customers who wanted to patronize black establishments.

Those businesses– clothing shops, bistros, and art stores– gave Fort Greene its unique character, bolstering real estate values, bringing in tourists and new residents and eventually attracting outside developers and businesses. In 2000, the city announced a multi-million dollar cultural redistricting around the neighboring Brooklyn Academy of Music. Six years later, the Atlantic Yards project – including luxury housing, high-end retail and arena for the Nets basketball team — broke ground.

Since then, rents have risen exponentially. Small storefronts along Fulton Street that were being leased for only $2,000 or $3,000 a few years ago now go for $6,000 to $8,000.


NoLandGrab: Surely that exponential increase in rents has nothing to do with Bruce Ratner's giant gentrification machine.

Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

Barclays Center Logo Goes Here

CBS New York

Bruce Ratner got a billion dollars in tax breaks and subsidies and all we got was the world's lousiest bank as naming-rights sponsor.

Barclays Center as seen from Chopper 880 – Brooklyn, NY – Aug 7, 2012


Photo: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880

Related coverage...

NetsDaily, Barclays Roof Logo Going Up

With completion scheduled for the first week of September and Opening Night 50 days away, Brett Yormark announced Thursday that by later this month Barclays Center expects to exceed 10,000 full season seats for the Nets. In addition, 80 percent of the 100+ suites have been sold, and the arena plans to announce its 10th Founding Partner next week.

Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

August 9, 2012

Do Basketball Arenas Spur Economic Development?

The Atlantic Cities
by Richard Florida

Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the Nets' generously tax-payer subsidized new home, was originally sold to the borough as a showcase for starchitect Frank Gehry (who ended up not designing it). It was supposed to be the anchor of a vast office and residential complex, The Atlantic Yards, which has yet to be built and will likely be downscaled. As neighborhood residents brace themselves for monster traffic jams and noisy crowds in anticipation of its September opening, a compelling new study by Geoffrey Propheter of George Washington University in The Journal of Urban Affairs sheds new light on precisely the question that should have been addressed before ground was broken: Are basketball arenas catalysts of economic development, or not?

Major public financing for arenas began in the 1950s and 1960s as older stadiums built in the early 1900s began to show signs of age. By the 1970s, a majority of major sports venues were publically subsidized. The study notes than "since 2004, voters in five cities have supported more than $1.5 billion in tax subsidies for new sports facilities or upgrades to existing ones."

Sports boosters claim the new stadiums bring economic benefits and add to a city’s "big league" status. But objective academic studies have countered this view, noting that stadiums add little in the way of actual economic benefit.


Posted by eric at 12:37 PM

Not only will 78th Precinct include Barclays Center, it will extend to malls, rest of Atlantic Yards site; police parking on street still a concern

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Police Department officials last night offered more detail on the reported, if not officially confirmed, news that the 78th Precinct, located at Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue, would be put in charge of policing the Barclays Center arena, the southeast border of which is a block away at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

(The mayoral recommendation must still be approved by the City Council. Currently, the Atlantic Yards site is split among three precincts.)

It was logical to have the 78th Precinct, given its size and location, to have the arena in its jurisdiction, officials explained. But the precinct is expanding significantly into chunks of territory currently policed by the 77th and 88th Precincts, officials said at a monthly meeting called by Council Member Steve Levin to discuss community concerns about arena impacts.

The boundary will expand in two major ways: first, north across Atlantic Avenue to encompass Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls; and second, northeast of Flatbush Avenue to Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, thus taking in the rest of the Atlantic Yards site as well as the blocks below, to Plaza Street.


Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

Harry Belafonte Calls Out Jay-Z and Beyonce for Selfishness

Kulture Kritic
by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Harry Belafonte, who did a great deal of work for the black community during the Civil Rights Movement, is making no secret of the fact that he’s very disappointed in many young black celebrities when it comes to to social activism. Speaking this week with the Hollywood Reporter, Belafonte pointed out Jay-Z and Beyonce as prime examples of what he’s talking about.

THR: Back to the occasion of the award for your acting career. Are you happy with the image of members of minorities in Hollywood today?

Belafonte: Not at all. They have not told the history of our people, nothing of who we are. We are still looking. We are not determinated. We are not driven by some technology that says you can kill Afghanistans, the Iraquis or the Spanish. It is all – excuse my French – shit. It is sad. And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.

Jay-Z is the same man who earned over $63 million dollars last year and only gave $6,000 to charity. Unfortunately, this has become par for the course in a world where poor black people are not nearly as fashionable of a cause as gay white kids from the suburbs. Poor black kids can’t buy your records, rendering them effectively useless.

So, while Beyonce and Jay-Z speaking up on marriage equality is a politely cute form of activism, you have to agree with Belafonte that today’s artists are taught not to care about anyone other than themselves. At best, we might get a photo op at a charity event, but the real pressure to sacrifice for those who are suffering is lost as millions of us forgive celebrities for being unwilling to use their power to make the world a better place. The rule is simple: If you’re rich, we love you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a former crack dealer (Jay-Z), brag about murdering women and children (Lil Wayne) or sleep with middle school kids on the weekends (R. Kelly). Money is used to wash away all sins, and people are quicker to disrespect an icon like Harry Belafonte before they challenge celebrities to do more than tweet pictures of their newborn baby.


Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

Lifespan of a (Brooklyn) Fact: Can One in Seven Americans Trace Roots to Brooklyn?

Atlantic Yards Report

My essay from Urban Omnibus: Lifespan of a (Brooklyn) Fact: Can One in Seven Americans Trace Roots to Brooklyn?

My inquiry started when I saw the tweet below in May. The trail led back into history, and into a lot of murkiness.


NoLandGrab: Considering the source of the tweet, an abundance of murkiness is no surprise.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

Brooklyn Islanders Not Likely?

The Prospect Park
by Jess Rubenstein

No, not likely at all.

So I guess Bruce Ratner did not get the memo from Gary Bettman regarding moving the New York Islanders to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Ratner who's the minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets thinks moving the Islanders into the brand-new arena would be a good idea.

Normally I would agree but I don't know how the Islanders could survive or compete against the Rangers in an arena that would have the smallest seating capacity in the NHL. I also don't see how having three NHL teams within arms length of each other is good for the NHL.


NoLandGrab: And it's not even the small number of seats, but the way they're configured, that make the Barclays Center completely untenable for NHL hockey.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

Barclays Bringing the Party to Brooklyn

Whether Brooklyn wants the party or not.

by Josh Cohen

It seems that all over the map, neighborhoods are shrinking with the influx of imbibing touristy hotspots and all the locals can do is voice their concerns against the massive amounts of funds going into developing these new party destinations.

The latest coup is happening around the Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn. The stampeding Nets fans and concert goers looking to keep the jeep riding aren’t going to take off for Manhattan if all the nightlife adventures are laid out in front of them, and so here come the bars and restaurants.

Over two dozen new businesses have requested liquor licenses, and you can bet the character of the Park Slope community will change. Grassroots groups and community boards have raised their concerns over the predicted head aches and oversaturation, but as of yet all future parties are still on.


Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

Lots in Yonkers

A big new development is bringing the city to the suburbs

NY Post
by Katherine Dykstra

Forest City's Ridge Hill is the epitome of new urbanist development — except everybody needs a car.

The retail aspect [at Ridge Hill] is great. They have great restaurants and REI and Lord & Taylor and a movie theater,” says Leah Caro, president of Bronxville-Ley Real Estate. “But they don’t have a dry cleaner or a pizza by the slice.”

The Ridge Hill complex has been constructed on 81 acres between the New York State Thruway and the Sprain Brook Parkway, meaning there isn’t a township within walking distance, nor is there a train station. While Monarch offers residents shuttle service to the Bronxville Metro-North stop, the shuttle only runs during rush hour. To get anywhere else, there’s no getting around the fact that one would need a car.


Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

Douglas, Raisman, other US Olympic gymnastic gold medalists to perform at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

Et tu, Gabby Douglas?

Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and the rest of the US Women’s Gymnastics team that captured gold medals at the London games are coming to Brooklyn to perform at Barclays Center on November 18 at 3 p.m, arena honchos announced today.

Douglas — the first African-American to win Olympic gold in the individual all-around gymnastics competition – and Raisman – the first American woman to win an individual Olympic gold in the floor exercise – will head the lineup.


Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Olympic Gymnasts Tumble Into Barclays Center

Also slated to perform are the rest of the "fab five" U.S. Women’s Team gold medalists: Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, as well as men’s Olympic gymnasts John Orozco, Jonathan Horton and Jake Dalton.

Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

Here Now, Barclays Center's Official Signage

by Jessica Dailey

Ladies and gentlemen, it's official. The Barclays Center sign has been erected. The bright blue letters found their place on the rust-colored exterior along Atlantic Avenue yesterday afternoon. Barclays originally agreed to pay $400 million for the 20-year naming deal, which extends to the Atlantic Avenue subway stop, but after the economy tanked, the deal was chopped in half to $200 million.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

August 8, 2012

TONIGHT: Arena Community Impacts meeting with Councilmember Levin

This meeting notice came to us via email...

The next Arena Community Impacts Meeting with Councilmember Stephen Levin will be on Wednesday, August 8, 6:30pm at the YWCA (second floor gallery), corner of Third Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.

1) Transportation. Chris Hrones from NYC Department of Transportation will attend to explain the upcoming changes, construction and answer all DOT questions.
2) Police Precinct lines. The borders have changed... what are they, and how will that affect our neighborhoods?
3) Brief updates on Sanitation, Rats, and Liquor.

Chris Hrones from NYC Department of Transportation
Arana Hankin from NYS ESDC
Sam Pierre from the Mayor's Task Force on the Arena

Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

Traffic Signal, Street Lights, Crosswalk Signals all out at 6th Avenue & Dean Street

Atlantic Yards Watch

Someone's going to get killed at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Dean Street, but surely the giant arena being built right there has nothing to do with the power outages, right?

Intersection of 6th Avenue & Dean Street

August 6, 2012 - 11:10pm


Very dangerous. Walking back home tonight I saw a near accident with 2 cars. Very dark. No police or other city agency official was at the intersection when I walked by. Another neighbor I met nearby said that the lights go out at this intersection nightly.


Related coverage...

threeCeeMedia via YouTube, Traffic signals and street lights out at 6th Avenue & Dean Street, Prospect Heights

This was shot on August 6, 2012 at 11pm. It is very dark video because the street lights and traffic signals were out. There were no NYPD or other officials here. It has apparently been happening nightly, according to a resident who lives nearby.

The Barclays Center Arena is in the background.

It is dangerous.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Barclays Center makes it official

NY Post
by Rich Calder

The future home of the Brooklyn Nets is finally showing off its name.

Construction crews using a crane spent several hours yesterday slapping the name “Barclays Center” along a side Atlantic Avenue entrance to the Nets’ new 18,200-seat arena. The large light-blue letters now cover the arena’s rust-colored, metal façade.

Barclays Bank has a 20-year lease for the naming rights to the arena, which opens Sept. 28 with a concert by rap star Jay-Z, a part owner of the Nets.

The “Barclays Center” name will be featured prominently along other areas outside the arena, including the rooftop and the main entrance at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.


Photo: Dana Sauchelli/NY Post

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Barclays Center sign and corporate logo now up on Atlantic Avenue arena facade

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Thanks to (disruptive) overtime, Carlton Avenue Bridge is now on schedule to reopen before arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Will the Carlton Avenue Bridge, a key connection between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene and one route to the adjacent arena surface parking lot, open before the Barclays Center does on September 28?

Yes, say developer Forest City Ratner and the state official overseeing the project--and this time, unlike in previous months, that pledge is backed up by reports from the state's construction monitor.

To get the bridge open, and avoid traffic chaos, the builders were considering opening the bridge with a temporary pier, not a permanent one. But even that won't be needed, thanks to overtime work, part of an accelerated schedule that caused considerable collateral damage to neighbors.


Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

August 7, 2012

Occupy Barclays Street Art

by Ben Valentine


Earlier this week I was anonymously given images of anti-Barclays street art spotted at the newly coined Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway stop in Brooklyn.

As the blurry images show, the work uses the Barclays name and funding of the station to highlight the recent LIBOR fixing scandal and the role of mega-corporations like Barclays in political turmoil throughout the world.

Ben Valentine: Why do you risk arrest for this work?

Unnamed Occupier: There is seemingly no mechanism to actually hold too big to fail institutions accountable for their actions. The state sure as hell isn’t doing it. Banks don’t really care if you parade a giant puppet outside their building. They don’t care if you start an intentional community and get off the grid. But they notice when you fuck up their stuff. They notice things that make them look bad, or weak, or foolish (the Yes Men’s Bhopal apology is a really good example of this).

This specific action is pretty low-level and still mostly symbolic, but we’re doing things that put us at risk because they make these institutions understand that they are at risk, and they are going to be held accountable, if not by the state then through other means. Part of our goal is to highlight the divergence between the amount of real risk that we realistically face by performing this small act of civil disobedience, and the nearly nonexistant risk faced by the institutions perpetrating these massive crimes.

Click through for a couple more photos and the rest of the interview.


Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

State Liquor Authority will consider Barclays Center liquor license at August 29 meeting; administrative law judge's report not yet public

Atlantic Yards Report

After an administrative law judge heard public testimony at two meetings in June, the State Liquor Authority is set to consider the Barclays Center liquor license at its August 29 board meeting, according to state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery's office.

Several things about the license and board meeting remain unclear, however. The report compiled by Administrative Law Judge Raymond Di Luglio has not been made public.

Yesterday, the SLA told me it was "an inter-agency document that is not a final determination of the State Liquor Authority," thus not subject to a Freedom of Information Law request.

"It will be part of the record before the Members of the authority, consequently, when they render a determination, it may be released," said spokesman William Crowley.

At the meeting

According to Montgomery's office, elected officials will be able to address the board at the hearing, but it's not clear if the public will be able to speak.

The meeting will be held at SLA offices in Harlem, beginning at 10 am, and should be webcast. The schedule for the meeting, which usually addresses numerous applications, should be released later in the month.

It's not clear if the SLA at that meeting will also address the application from Kemistry, a lounge planning highly-contentious bottle service.


Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

"Brands of excellence": Barclays Center announces partnership with GEICO

Atlantic Yards Report

The arena's "largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," as developer Bruce Ratner said last year, right?

A press release yesterday, from the Barclays Center, headlined GEICO BECOMES NINTH FOUNDING PARTNER OF BARCLAYS CENTER:

The 9,000 square-foot glass-enclosed GEICO Atrium will be the main entry space as visitors walk through the front door of Barclays Center. Fans will have easy access to the 12-booth box office, views into the below-grade practice court, and quick access to the Nets Shop by adidas. Most impressively, the GEICO Atrium opens onto a dramatic view of the arena bowl and scoreboard.

In addition to the GEICO Atrium branding, GEICO will be fully integrated into some of the most high-profile positions at Barclays Center, including the unparalleled “Street-to-Seat” brand signage at Barclays Center.

As part of its alliance with the Brooklyn Nets, GEICO will receive television-visible branding on each side of the basketball hoop stanchions for each Nets home game.

Supporting Brooklyn?

The key quote comes from Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark: “We are pleased that GEICO and Brooklyn support each other and we are excited to continue to partner with brands of excellence.”

GEICO's not supporting "Brooklyn," it's supporting a specific sports and entertainment enterprise.


Related coverage...

MediaPost News, GEICO In As Barclays Center's 9th Sponsor

The venue -- which has 18,200 seats for basketball, around 19,000 seats for concerts, 100 or so luxury suites, four bars, three clubs, and a restaurant -- has also signed as founding partners American Express, Calvin Klein, Cushman & Wakefield, EmblemHealth, Foxwoods Resort Casino, MetroPCS, Stolichnaya, and Ticketmaster. Other sponsors include Adidas (which will have a store selling Nets regalia), Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Haier America, Sony and New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Barclays has its name on the hood, of course, though if company gets further sucked into the Libor scandal vortex, that might change.

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

August 6, 2012

Were there really 1,079 construction workers on site in June? Maybe at one time, but the daily average was under 800

Atlantic Yards Report

On 6/29/12, I questioned a Patch report that, "Right now on the Atlantic Yards construction site, according to FCRC, they have 1,079 union employees in total...."

I tried to find out what that meant in FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs, given that the total number of workers has been overstated by 25%.

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco gave a brief response to my query, but avoided specifics: "That publication asked for the most recent number of workers on site... They change weekly and based on the work that is being done."

Since then, I discovered a more accurate number. The official AtlanticYards.com website indicates that, for the week of June 24, there was a total of 1137 construction workers, with a daily average of 797 workers.

As I've suggested, the Independent Compliance Monitor that Forest City Ratner refused to hire could provide more accurate information.


Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

Bars Around Barclays Tread Fine Line Between Locals and Arena Visitors

by Janet Babin

The area around the new Barclays Center Arena in Brooklyn has become a new bar and restaurant hotspot.

Entrepreneurs are trying to capitalize on potential new business that could come from the 675,000-square-foot venue at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

But there are concerns that the hoards of fans from Brooklyn Nets games or concert goers looking for an after party could clash with locals at these new neighborhood watering holes.

That’s why many bar and restaurant owners are trying to appeal to both regulars and arena clientele.

The neighborhood surrounding Barclays has not opened its arms to the arena and the potential headaches that will come with it. Residents are concerned about rowdy crowds spilling out of the 19,000 seat venue, could rattle regular diners, and may even keep them away – at least on game day.

According to local Community Board 8, just over two dozen new bar and restaurants have requested liquor licenses in the past 12 months in the area between Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway, from Flatbush to Washington Avenues.

That compares with eight requests in the same time period in 2010 and 2011.


Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

Securitas Security Services USA Employee Review

“Come to Yankee stadium and get treated like a prisoner.”

by Former Security Officer in Bronx, NY

Wonder if the Barclays Center jobs will be as rewarding as those at Yankee Stadium, as outlined in this employee review...

Pros – the interaction with guests is rewarding
It's a nice postion to have on a resume.

Cons – Management is all ex correctional officers and treat you like their prisoners. The work environment suffers as a result, everyone is worried about being fired everyday and are constantly worried and angry. All policies are written as a reason to fire someone and the managers will not assist you or give you any advice they will only threaten to give you warnings. Due to all the firings the place is a revolving door of employees and who you work with will change weekly.

The hours fluctuate daily and it's impossible to know when you'll be able to leave everyday. If the game does get rained out you will not be payed after the cancellation. Management will call you in for special shifts with only a days notice and you cannot say no. Even though the job is part time you will not be able to work any other job due to the hours fluctuating. You are not allowed to miss shifts for any reason and even with a doctors note or proof of a death in the family you may be fired.

It is a union shop but besides paying your dues you will not hear anything from them. You are not given any contact information for them and it's clear they don't care about the working conditions.



Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

Nuts for the Nets

How a freewheeling Russian businessman turned the NBA's doormat into its hottest property.

Crain's NY Business
by Daniel Massey

Team Hype takes it to the next level.

In February, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, appeared on a Russian television comedy show called Spotlight Paris Hilton, and offered a musical tribute to his co-owner, hip-hop star Jay-Z.

"Mr. Jay-Z, this rap is for you," went the English portion of the lyrics. "Mr. Jay-Z, this is the first presentation/of real rap music from Russian Federation. Mr. Jay-Z, you are not alone/Mikhail Prokhorov on the microphone."

According to Mr. Prokhorov, a reprise is in the works, but this time in downtown Brooklyn, where Jay-Z will open the $1 billion Barclays Center with a series of sold-out concerts this fall. "Yes, I will rap at his concert," Mr. Prokhorov informed Crain's via email. "I am in rehearsals now 10 hours a day and plan to demand joint billing."

Of late, Jay-Z has done everything short of taking tickets. He tried to recruit superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to the team; he became a director of the company that owns the Barclays Center; his 40/40 Club will have a location at the arena; he created the team's new logo and helped design high-end arena suites; an ad firm he co-owns devised the inaugural Brooklyn Nets campaign, which features the phrase "Hello Brooklyn," the title of a Jay-Z song; his choreographer is working with the Nets dance team; and the bodyguard for his wife, Beyoncé, was named the Nets' director of security.

The hometown star's mega-presence belies the fact that his stake in the team was likely diluted to less than a third of 1% with Mr. Prokhorov's arrival, NetsDaily said.

All of Jay-Z's pizzazz and Mr. Prokhorov's money won't mean much if the team doesn't improve markedly on its 22-44 record last year.


NoLandGrab: As Norman Oder pointed out yesterday, the taxpayers are largely responsible for creating the Nets' upside.

Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

August 5, 2012

What's behind the rocketing value of the Brooklyn Nets? Not just Prokhorov and Jay-Z, but public assistance

Atlantic Yards Report

An article in Crain's New York Business is headlined Nuts for the Nets: How a freewheeling Russian businessman turned the NBA's doormat into its hottest property.

Buoyed by the basketball team's move to Brooklyn from New Jersey, the duo have turned the Nets from a laughingstock that played to empty arenas and hemorrhaged cash into a franchise expected to sell out nightly and increase revenue by more than $50 million this season. Sponsorships are soaring, merchandise is flying off the shelves and the once-shunned Nets have become a desired destination for NBA stars.

Mr. Prokhorov's free spending—he committed about $340 million to player salaries last month alone—and his move to tap Jay-Z's star power have made the Nets the talk of the league. If that chatter translates to wins, the Nets could become the NBA's hottest story of the year.

There's something barely hinted in the article: a new arena, with luxury suites and enormous sponsorship opportunities, in the country's biggest media market, is key to Prokhorov's willingness to spend money and the new attention paid to the team.

And what enabled that? Public subsidies and other assistance, including the gift of naming rights for a (nominally) publicly-owned arena.

In other words, the upside goes significantly in one direction.


Posted by steve at 7:11 PM

"We are finally living out our creed": "natural orator" Jay-Z shills for Budweiser, while wearing Nets cap

Atlantic Yards Report

In a December 2010 New York Observer profile of Jay-Z, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah observed that "Jay-Z is a natural orator; he can say much or nothing, and it not only sounds good, it also sounds heartfelt."

Indeed. Check out this "Jay-Z Budweiser 2012 London Olympics Commercial," which at one point shows him wearing a Brooklyn Nets cap. Synergy!


Posted by steve at 7:08 PM

August 4, 2012

Giant granite bollards removed from Atlantic Terminal station, replaced by more modest bollards to improve pedestrian flow

Atlantic Yards Report

On Transportation Nation, WNYC's Andrea Bernstein reports on NY MTA’s $1.35 Million Mistake:

Now we know.
The New York MTA spent $1.35 million on giant granite bollards that it later removed outside the Atlantic Terminal station.
To put that in perspective, a year of service* on the B51 bus line, which the MTA discontinued in 2010, cost $800,000 a year.
The bollards, much-reviled by architects and planners and panned by the Brooklyn Paper as “sarcophagi,” were installed in 2010 for unspecified security reasons.

But those 15 humongous tombstones served as a barrier to pedestrians and represented overkill compared to the more modest cylindrical bollards more typical in the system.

So now it will be much easier to walk to the arena, among other destinations, from the terminal. (That refers mainly to those coming on the LIRR; those in the subway should be able to traverse the station internally and exit on the plaza.)

Who came first

Also note Eric McClure's comment:

One more reminder that NoLandGrab.org first broke the news of the massive bollards in December 2009, and referred to them as Sarcophagi well before the Brooklyn Paper did:


Posted by steve at 6:31 PM

August 3, 2012

Brooklyn Soon To Be Home To World's Most Humongous Barclays Logo

Runnin' Scared
by Neil deMause

The indefatigable Norman Oder -- at least, we've never seen him defatigued -- reported yesterday on his Atlantic Yards Report that Brooklyn's new Nets arena is about to get a "honking big" Barclays logo on its roof. This is normal and expected for roofed sports facilities these days (check out the lid on Newark's Prudential Center, for example), except that "honking big roof logo" apparently was never mentioned in the design guidelines that arena builder Bruce Ratner presented to the state in 2006. At the time, the roof was going to be a Frank Gehry-designed green space; now that it's instead a big expanse of white metal, apparently the state Empire State Development Corporation, which owns the arena site and oversees the project, gave the okay for logorifficness.

So, who should care? Aside from condo buyers in the former Williamsburgh Bank building, who are going to have to stare at this thing every time they look out their landmarked windows, it's not likely to make much of a dent on many Brooklynite eyeballs, something that the ESDC cited to Oder as a reason for okaying the deal. Mostly, the only people who will be confronted with this enormous reminder of the stars of the LIBOR scandal will be Google Earth browsers and passengers in passing planes.

Those eyeballs in the sky, however, could mean big money for Ratner. E.J. Narcise, a principal partner at Team Services LLC, which markets naming-rights deals for stadium and arena owners, says that in the sports marketing biz, "rooftop signage became very prominent within the last ten years." And the two things corporate sponsors look for when shopping for roofs are a sizable population center and proximity to a major flight path, both of which the Brooklyn arena has in abundance. Passengers on the left side of LaGuardia-bound flights, in fact, will have a perfect view of the giant not-Nazi-related-at-all-really eagle as they return their seat backs to an upright position.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, That sign/logo on the Barlcays Center roof? "an extremely valuable piece of inventory"

The key is the benefit to Forest City Ratner and, while a naming-rights deal expert didn't put a number on it, he called "an extremely valuable piece of inventory."

And, I'd add, not only is the public not getting any of Barclays' money for that, the benefit to Forest City was never counted in any cost-benefit analysis.

Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

State justifies Barclays logo/name on arena roof, says it complies with "intent" of Design Guidelines (which never mentioned roof signage)

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a honking big Barclays Center name and logo coming on the roof of the new Brooklyn arena, buzzing toward a Sept. 28 opening. But such rooftop signage was never officially approved, disclosed, nor opened to public comment. Nor was it ever permitted in the Design Guidelines on which the state relies.

It's a p.r. victory for Barclays, which, however hammered for its LIBOR manipulations, is implanting itself in Brooklyn, buying naming rights for the Barclays Center arena and getting its name on the adjacent subway station. (Developer Forest City Ratner actually paid for the latter.)

Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency that approved the overall Atlantic Yards project and works hand-in-glove with Forest City, took nearly two business days to provide an explanation for the signage, which was quietly disclosed Monday in a two-week construction look-ahead prepared by the developer.

The signage--including painted letters approximately 230’ x 103’--is kosher, according to ESD's Arana Hankin, because it "comprehensively complies with the intent of the [project design] guidelines that 'establish a framework for the design of the project.'”

Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, confirmed that it would look like the image released in September 2010, below, a year after the second round of project approvals. (Note that the angle merely gives a hint of the logo.)


Related coverage...

Brownstoner, AYR: State Justifies Barclays Logo and Name on Roof

The name and logo will be painted on the roof. It will not be visible from the street, according to the state agency that approved it, Empire State Development. It will be visible from nearby tall office buildings and aircraft, and aerial news coverage will show it.

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

Is the arena project 95-98 percent complete, as Forest City claims? It probably depends on how you define "project"

Atlantic Yards Report

"We're on the main concourse of the Barclays Center. Our project here is about 95, 98 percent complete," Forest City Ratner construction chief Bob Sanna says in a new video produced by the New York Daily News.

Is that credible? It probably depends on how you define "project." It may well be that they are less than 5 percent of the way from being able to fully test the building.

But Sanna's estimate differs significantly from the index used by Merritt & Harris, the consultant that reports monthly to the arena bond trustee, Empire State Development Corporation, and Forest City Ratner.

In the last report from Merritt & Harris, dated 7/9/12 and based on a 5/23/12 visit and documents dated 6/22/12, a chart indicated that the arena, as of May, was nearly 80 percent complete, on a path--as of the end of July--to be perhaps 85 percent complete.


Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

The First Sporting Event at Barclays Is Two Months Away

New York Magazine
by Will Leitch

Exactly two months from today — October 2, 2012 — the Barclays Center will host its first sporting event. The place officially opens on September 28, with the first of Jay-Z's eight (eight!) concerts, but smack in between those shows, after the first four and before the second four, the New York Islanders will play the New Jersey Devils in an exhibition game. Now, that game will have a completely ridiculous seating arrangement because the Barclays Center isn't set up for hockey, but no matter: It will be an actual sporting event at the Barclays Center, just two months from today.


Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Barclays Center CEO 'trying like hell' to get Islanders to move to Brooklyn

by Brian Stubits

More like "lying like hell."

When trying to find a way to keep the Islanders in New York beyond 2015, all signs end up pointing back to Brooklyn. Because the new Barclays Center isn't perfectly suited for hockey and would have the league's smallest seating capacity, many haven't seen it as a viable option. The layout for hockey would be unique as one endzone would be empty for hockey.


NoLandGrab: That's because it's not a viable option. "Unique" is just a synonym for incompatible.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

Assemblyman and Congressional Nominee Still Keeps Subway Office Hours

by Georgia Kral

A half-block from the 78th Precinct and practically in the shadow of the controversial Atlantic Yards development, residents stopped and talked with Jeffries about the hot topics that residents of Prospect Heights and Park Slope are most likely affected by: affordable housing, development in the area and of course, the soon-to-open Barclays Center — the heart of Atlantic Yards.

Many of the area’s residents have come to terms with the fact that the Barclays Center is happening, said Jeffries. While a group of residents fought a long legal battle to stop the arena and the entire project from coming to the area, most people have shifted their focus.

“Before construction began, concerns were about whether it [Atlantic Yards] could be halted. Then it shifted moving on to concerns about how to deal with quality of life issues,” said Jeffries. “There’s still an active group of residents in Prospect Heights who are committed to mitigating the adverse impacts of the project.”

And over time, Jeffries added, there has been an acceptance of the reality of the development.

Kathryn, a resident of nearby Park Slope for 16 years who did not want to give her last name, agreed with Jeffries’ assessment of the state of the protest against Atlantic Yard.

“It’s a done deal, unfortunately,” she said. “But as residents it’s important for us… to continue to be proactive.”


Related coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, Hakeem Jeffries Holds 'Subway Office Hours'

Ralph Vernon, a Prospect Heights resident for more than 40 years talked to Jeffries about how he is thankful for the jobs that the Barclays Center will bring, but is worried about the increased rent that will come along with the neighborhood becoming a destination.

“Times are tough and a lot of families are struggling,” he told Metrofocus. “This is affecting people who live here. People will have to move out.”

NoLandGrab: It's nice that Hakeem Jeffries is talking to constituents about the Barclays Center, but nearby residents don't need him to be their shrink — they need him to do something about it.

Posted by eric at 10:18 AM

August 2, 2012

Sculpture or neighbor? Driving Flatbush Avenue, "iconic" arena relieves "sordid dullness" of mall

Atlantic Yards Report

Architectural historian Gabrielle Esperdy drives Flatbush Avenue for Urban Omnibus, in Flatbush Start to Finish:

Still, as Flatbush traversed the rest of the borough, there would be a few more opportunities for monuments of iconic architecture and infrastructure.

Notable, and most recent, in this regard is the Barclays Center, soon to be completed at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic. Now, say what you will about Atlantic Yards as a whole, there is no denying that SHoP’s Corten steel snake will go a long way to relieving the sordid dullness of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, which has been sitting woefully at this major intersection (where the extension officially ends and Flatbush proper begins) since 2004. Best to move by quickly and set sights further down road where there’s reliable City Beautiful planning to anchor Grand Army Plaza...

It's also relieving the more sordid dullness of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center mall, which has been next to the Atlantic Terminal site since 1996.

I imagine that, on event nights, drivers will have a lot more time to contemplate the arena, as traffic moves slowly.

Sculpture, or neighbor?

But Esperdy's take regarding the arena seems to be: not dull, even iconic.

Or, as a friend put it: "not as horrible as I expected."

Then again, an architect friend I asked thought it was in fact horrible, ticking off the arena's relationship to the street and the surrounding neighborhood.

I think that speaks to the difference between the arena as sculpture, especially for those driving by, and the arena as living entity with a very tight fit into the northwest corner of Prospect Heights.


Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

Barclays Center readies for opening

NY Daily News

Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna takes a break from fighting his NIMBY battle in New Jersey to give a tour of the "95, 98% complete" Barclays Center.


Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

EXCLUSIVE: Want To Live Near Top Of NYC Skyline? Only Costs You $60,000 A Month

CBS New York
by Dave Carlin

Big news on affordable housing from Forest City Ratner!

Now you can live atop a gleaming, 76-story art sculpture, but it doesn’t come cheap.

In a CBS 2 television exclusive, reporter Dave Carlin was granted a first look inside the penthouses of Manhattan’s tallest and swankiest residential tower.

“Asking rent for this apartment is $60,000 a month,” [Forest City Ratner's Susi] Yu said.

The luxury skyscraper has one surprising amenity: rent-stabilization. The high-rent units will stay that way for 20 years.


NoLandGrab: That's right! If the NYC Rent Guidelines Board limits the annual stabilized increase to 2%, as it did this year, you'll only be paying $1,000,000 or so in rent in 2032. How can you pass that up?

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

August 1, 2012

Bill de Blasio channels Carl Kruger, Marty Golden in condemning heavy-handed, rapacious bureaucrats” blocking development

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder picks up on New York City Public Advocate (and mayoral hopeful) Bill de Blasio's recent speech to business "leaders"...

de Blasio, actually, sounds like a couple of seeming ideological opposites, a conservative Democrat and a Republican from south Brooklyn, who in the spring of 2009 beat up on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get the agency to give Forest City Ratner a sweeter deal.

Consider a press release from Marty Golden:

State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn), strongly advocated for ending the government generated delays that have prevented the Atlantic Yards project from moving forward at a meeting of the New York Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions held this past Friday.

Or one from Carl Kruger:

Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) is demanding that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hand over its financial records concerning the Atlantic Yards project in the wake of the MTA’s “apparent refusal to move forward on a project that is critical to New York City’s economic future.”

Given that Kruger's now in federal prison and Golden's had his ethical problems, maybe de Blasio might choose some better role models.


Posted by eric at 9:32 PM

Parking snag? Despite promises of prepaid parking, system still not live yet, though many tickets sold (also, a map of parking and the shuttle bus)

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite promises in May from a Forest City Ratner consultant that arena event-goers would find prepaid parking "seamless with the Barclays Center software," arena operators have sold hundreds of thousands of tickets to upcoming events without being able to offer that option.

Though Barclays Center operators have been quiet about this glitch, the company Click and Park, which offers prepaid parking for venues like Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, won't finish its web page linked to the new Brooklyn arena until Aug. 6, a representative stated when I called to inquire.

Indeed, as indicated at right, one version of the webpage is just a placeholder, though another, below, is nearly ready.

What do you do now?

Nor can event-goers easily prepay for parking, say, for that first weekend of Jay-Z concerts, beginning Sept. 28. (See maps of garages, including remote parking, at bottom.)

I called the garage at 700 Pacific Street, listed as part of the Click and Park inventory, and was given rather confusing information on whether and how parking might be prepaid.

What does arena operator Forest City Ratner say? I twice queried representatives of the developer, but got no response. One question: will ticket-buyers be sent a reminder when these sites go live?

Another, which I didn't ask: can the large numbers of people buying tickets on the secondary market be informed?


NoLandGrab: Fortunately, most people had to sell their cars to afford the originally $29.50 Jay-Z tickets on the secondary market.

Posted by eric at 8:16 PM

Flatbush Start to Finish

Urban Omnibus
by Gabrielle Esperdy

Public thoroughfares often endure longer than the private property alongside them, and sometimes outlive even the cities and towns that they service. But the history of roads — the infrastructural priorities, demographic realities, technological possibilities and urban development choices that they reveal — gets less air time than other elements of city form, like civic buildings, public monuments or private houses. But for Gabrielle Esperdy — an architectural historian whose work examines the intersection of American architecture, consumerism and modernism in 20th and 21st century urban and suburban landscapes — certain streets offer an opportunity to summon a variety of historically distinct architectural and planning philosophies and to discuss them in a single setting. Flatbush Avenue, one of the oldest and longest streets in Brooklyn, is such a street. Just as the line of Broadway attests to pathways through Manhattan traversed long before Europeans arrived, Flatbush bears the marks of the Revolutionary War, Beaux Arts planning, and, of course, Robert Moses. Below, Esperdy recounts a journey from the Manhattan Bridge to Jamaica Bay.

The entire article is well worth reading, but we're just excerpting the high lowlight — Esperdy's note that the arena is at least good for hiding Ratner buildings even uglier.

Notable, and most recent, in this regard is the Barclays Center, soon to be completed at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic. Now, say what you will about Atlantic Yards as a whole, there is no denying that SHoP’s Corten steel snake will go a long way to relieving the sordid dullness of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, which has been sitting woefully at this major intersection (where the extension officially ends and Flatbush proper begins) since 2004. Best to move by quickly and set sights further down road where there’s reliable City Beautiful planning to anchor Grand Army Plaza, especially with John Hemingway Duncan’s triumphal Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch standing symbolically, if not literally, astride the avenue as the gateway to Prospect Park. The stretch through the park is as verdant as Flatbush ever gets, giving it, I suppose, a certain kind of grandeur.


Posted by eric at 8:09 PM

Who's Against the Olympics? Taxpayers Most Notably

Real Clear Markets
by Steven Malanga

On July 6, 2005, Londoners celebrated in Trafalgar Square as giant television screens carried the announcement by the International Olympic Committee that the city had won the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. Back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized to America because his city's bid to host those games, which Bloomberg had pursued ardently, fell short.

But these sorts of experiences don't stop elected officials. In New York may Mayor Bloomberg lost the Olympics' bid but then turned his attention to helping push through the massive Atlantic Yards redevelopment project in Brooklyn, whose centerpiece is the new Barclay's Center arena where the former New Jersey Nets will now play. To make the 22-acre project possible in the middle of the borough New York government used the threat of eminent domain to displace some 400 residents and two dozen businesses. Politicians also gave the developers hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to construct the arena, all on the basis that the project would upgrade a neighborhood where people were already paying upwards of $500,000 for condos and co-ops. Of course, the marketplace has a way of intervening with the best laid plans of government, and so while the Barclays arena is scheduled to open this fall, the developers have pushed back construction of the project's residential towers thanks to the housing bust.

After Chicago lost its bid in 2009 to host the 2016 Olympics, President Obama criticized naysayers who urged the city not to try. "I mean, who's against the Olympics?" he said. Right now in London I'm betting there are quite a few taxpayers and business owners who can provide the President with an adequate answer to that question.


Posted by eric at 8:04 PM

Kemistry Lounge Files Application with SLA and Plans to Open in Sept.

Co-owner James Brown said the future for his upscale restaurant/lounge is clear and construction is continuing.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

Like Bruce Ratner's phantasmagorical Brooklyn Islander's dreams, Kemistry Lounge keeps coming back — but this nightmare may be real.

Despite staunch opposition from its neighbors, local politicians, having their liquor license application rejected by Community Board 6 and even getting sued by their landlord, Kemistry Lounge is forging ahead and plans to open in the end of Sept.

The owners of Kemistry Lounge, the upscale restaurant/lounge being built on Flatbush Ave., between Prospect Place and St. Marks Avenue, filed their liquor license application with the State Liquor Authority this week and told Patch that they plan to open their 245-person capacity space as planned.

Their application to the SLA is requesting a license for bottle service, but Brown said that they may be serving the bottles a little differently to make for a safer atmosphere.

“In light of the incident in the Manhattan night club we may still serve the full amount of what’s in a bottle but may serve it in a different container,” Brown told Patch on Tuesday, referencing the recent brawl between singer Chris Brown (no relation) and rapper Drake where multiple people were injured by bottles thrown at the club W.iP. “But again, you typically don’t have issues in bar/restaurant/lounge settings. Bottle service type issues tend to happen in club settings.”

Actually, bottle service-type issues tend to happen in places with bottle service. And nearby residents are much more concerned with the effect the contents of those bottles will have on the people drinking them than they are with what those people might do to each other with the bottles inside Kemistry Lounge.

Peter Adelman, Prospect Place Neighbor’s lawyer, said that they are ready to take measures to protect their community’s quality of life if Kemistry ignores their requests for compromise.

“We are dismayed at Kemistry’s refusal to cooperate with area residents and we are ready to fight this,” Adelman said. “I am prepared to respond appropriately and vigorously to their application to the SLA."


Posted by eric at 7:52 PM

Daily News columnist Hamill: "once-forgotten area of weedy rail yards... will be the entertainment pacemaker"

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Daily News columnist Dennis Hamill is not as much an abusurdist as his New York Post counterpart Andrea Peyser, though 1) that's a pretty high bar and 2) they both seem to have forgotten the 10,000 office jobs that so enthused them.

But, as in the past, he remains a reliable conveyor of developer Bruce Ratner's press releases. Today, in A whole new arena: Brooklyn's O'Malley curse begins to end in 60 days, he writes:

this once-forgotten area of weedy rail yards, empty lots and a few blocks of vital homes claimed in eminent domain will be the entertainment pacemaker of our most populous borough.

He seems to not know that parent Forest City Enterprises then-CEO Chuck Ratner called it a "great piece of real estate." Or that two-thirds of the "weedy rail yards"--the "blight" that this project was supposed to overcome--have not been developed, because Forest City Ratner has not started paying for them.


Posted by eric at 7:48 PM

A whole new arena

Brooklyn's O'Malley curse begins to end in 60 days

NY Daily News
by Denis Hamill

Speaking once more of values, integrity and honesty, the Daily News's answer to Andrea "Mad Dog" Peyser transcribes Bruce Ratner's talking points.


“That’s how many days till the curse of Walter O'Malley starts to lift from Brooklyn,” says Bruce Ratner, the tenacious builder and CEO of Forest City Ratner.

Amazing coincidence! That's exactly when the curse of Bruce Ratner's arena boondoggle will settle on Brooklyn.

Six years ago, I pressed Ratner when he told me a portion of the 18,000 seats would be “affordable” to working Brooklynites. “How much?” I said. “Gimme a dollar amount.”

“Okay, $15," he said.

I printed it.

Since then, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has purchased the majority share of the Nets. He went along with that promise. On Monday, Ratner said, “There will be 2,000 $15 seats at every Brooklyn Nets game, and 50% of Nets tickets will be $55 or less. About 7,000 of Jay-Z’s tickets at each concert sold for $29.50.”

And about 6,800 of those were bought by scalpers, who are reselling them for hundreds of dollars.

“And I am trying like hell to get the Islanders to make Barclays Center their new hockey home,” says Ratner, sweeping his hand across the big arena where workers in cherry-picker buckets installed acoustic panels on the domed ceiling as others installed black seats. “They will play a pre-season game here against the Devils.”

Are they seriously going to try to work every one of Ratner's b.s. lines into this column?

Oh, wait — it gets better. Here comes the random construction worker to ask a question of the big boss (who surely knows absolutely nothing about job-site details). Jonah Lehrer just resigned for a lot less contrivance.

As we spoke, a Laborers Local 79 member named William Jackson approached Ratner with a work-related question.

I asked him about working for Ratner. Jackson said he’s been on a half-dozen Forest City Ratner jobs since 2001, including a courthouse on Adams St., Metro Tech and the Barclays Center.

“Ratner kept his word,” he says. “He hired people from the community like me. I live a few blocks from here. This arena put a lot people to work, paid a lot of bills for a lot of families. His people come into the community and train people in entrepreneurship, help them start new businesses. He even throws parties for the construction workers when the job is finished. Nobody does that. I'll be here opening night to root for the home team because I'm already a Nets fan. Now they'll be playing in Brooklyn a few blocks from my house."

[Sniffle, sniffle] Sorry, but we're too choked up to go on. You'll have to click through if you're more hardened and cynical than we.


NoLandGrab: Peyser last week, Hamill this week. Do you think next week's arena tour with Steve Witt is already scheduled?

Posted by eric at 7:19 PM

Bill de Blasio Tries His Best to Court Business Allies Ahead of Mayoral Run

by Chris Smith

Speaking of values, integrity and honesty, alleged Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio made a speech to business leaders yesterday, in which he assailed "rapacious bureaucrats" and praised Bruce Ratner. You can't make this stuff up.

De Blasio delivered his nearly hour-long address at an NYU event sponsored by the Rudin family, one of the city’s best-connected real-estate dynasties, with patriarch Bill Rudin in the front row. He ripped “heavy-handed, rapacious bureaucrats” getting in the way of development, and beat up on the city’s land use approval process and its buildings department, two eternal villains in the business community. And as a badge of business-friendly courage, de Blasio cited his support of Atlantic Yards despite the fierce opposition the project provoked in Park Slope, the neighborhood he represented in the City Council.

“When it came to the criteria that mattered above all others — good jobs and affordable housing,” de Blasio said, “it was clear that Atlantic Yards would help stanch the bleeding in an area facing huge problems of affordability.”

If only that were how things have turned out. The Barclays Center arena will open this fall, but its construction has generated far fewer jobs than promised; the housing at the site — affordable and not — hasn’t materialized at all. De Blasio blamed the economic downturn, Governor George Pataki, and even — to his credit — “my friends at Forest City Ratner,” an allusion to the thousands of dollars that the Atlantic Yards developer has contributed to his campaign.


Posted by eric at 7:07 PM

Rocawear Presents: JAY-Z from "Marcy to Barclays" Extended Version

Rocawear via YouTube

To hear Jay-Z tell it, growing up in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects "taught you these values, and taught you integrity, and taught you honesty" — the result of which, apparently, led him to lend his celebrity and street cred to a crooked boondoggle named for the bank that brought you the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal.


Posted by eric at 6:55 PM

Forest City Ratner to settles with worker injured during Ridge Hill Construction

by Erik Shilling

Here at NoLandGrab, we're sticklers for focusing on the positive. So we like to think that Forest City Ratner's failure to deliver on its pie-in-the-sky promise of 17,000 construction jobs may well be keeping workers from getting hurt — or worse.

A prominent tri-state developer agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a state Supreme Court lawsuit with a former worker at the Westchester’s Ridge Hill development in Yonkers.

Ryan Vrabel was injured in 2009 when his hand got caught in an unguarded belt drive at the site, according to Steven Gaines, his lawyer. The accident led to the partial amputation of the thumb on his non-dominant hand.

He subsequently filed suit against the developer, Forest City Ratner, and several other companies in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn in 2010, alleging negligence. Two years later, the parties told a judge last month they had reached a settlement in the case.


Posted by eric at 6:41 PM