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September 29, 2012

Under Barclays Center oculus, groups challenging Atlantic Yards call for reform, joined by Occupy and two who "drank Ratner's Kool-Aid" but changed their minds

Atlantic Yards Report

Five groups challenging the Atlantic Yards project, bolstered by some Occupy Wall Street participants and two former project supporters, held a press conference this morning on the Barclays Center plaza, moving under the oculus (which dripped somewhat) to get out of the rain.

"Welcome to the tale of two Brooklyns," said Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, leading off the event and citing the arena as an example of "crony capitalism." The groups' goals include a plan that prioritizes "the creation of housing affordable to working families in Brooklyn" (for which, however, Ratner's modular plan may be billed as a solution) and to reform project oversight.

"Many Brooklynites may attend events here," Carponter declared, but profits will be reaped by the developer Forest City Ratner and the retail chains. She didn't mention Mikhail Prokhorov, majority owner of the Nets and 45% owner of the arena.

(Videos by Jonathan Barkey.)

Drinking "Ratner's Kool-Aid"

Carponter introduced two people she described as having drunk "Ratner's Kool-Aid," including "my friend" Kathleen Noreiga, who demonstrated for the project as a supporter of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), the controversial job-development organization.

Noreiga (video start) is one of seven people (of 36) who went through BUILD's highly competitive 15-week, pre-apprenticeship training program lawsuit and filed suit last November regarding what they say were guaranteed jobs and union cards at the arena.

"Instead of providing us with jobs and training, we were made to do heavy labor, including demolition and debris removal, at a private house in Staten Island for our instructor's private company," she said. The seven plaintiffs have sued for payment for their unpaid training.

A message to Jay-Z from a Marcy neighbor

Umar Jordan, he of the dramatic pro-project testimony in August 2006--"If you haven't been to the Marcy Projects, you haven't been to Brooklyn"--was introduced by Carponter as having "since determined that Brooklyn has been played."

Jordan was forceful but brief: "I need you to call the police and tell them that we've been robbed. Brooklyn's been robbed. This is not a personal attack on you, Jay-Z. We've been robbed, and I've seen people go to jail for less."


NoLandGrab: You know what they say — if you haven't somehow been screwed by Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards boondoggle, you ain't from Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 12:29 PM

Occupy TV: Barclays Center Candlelight Vigil

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Highlights from the moving speeches at last night's candlelight vigil at Barclays Center where clergy, elected officials and community organizations emembered the people and families displaced by the Atlantic Yards project’s use of eminent domain, as well as recognized those at risk of displacement today, and families still in need of affordable housing.


Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

Barclays Center debut: no traffic nightmare and empty (paid) parking spaces (on a work night), but still reasons for concern: narrow sidewalks mean paparazzi gridlock and later a flood of people blocking Atlantic Avenue

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder serves up a typically comprehensive report on last night's opening of the laser-shooting Barclays Center.

Traffic flowed fairly well outside at the Barclays Center debut with Jay--Z last night, and the event appeared relatively orderly, given the sold-out house, which drew a crowd wearing everything from flashy nightclub duds to Brooklyn Nets gear.

Though he'd been on many stages around the world, Jay-Z told the crowd, "Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn." (While the fans I spoke to all said they enjoyed the show, and people chanted "Hova" as they left--and, of course, inside--I heard multiple secondhand reports, including this tweet, that said that Jay-Z's performance, actually, was subpar.)

"Welcome to the house that Bruce built" was flashed across the arena screen, as reported on Twitter; I countered that developer Bruce Ratner had a "wee bit" of government help.

Perhaps the most prominent disorder, according to reports on Twitter, was lots of pot-smoking inside the arena, as well as a wait, which lasted until about 8:45, just to get past security into the building.

The vigorous promotion of transit coupled with mostly pleasant weather and the generally young audience meant few drove automobiles--at least to paid parking. (Watch out when Streisand appears.) The surface parking lot, in fact, was perhaps 20 percent full.

Lots, lots more if you click through.


Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Atlantic Yards Deconstructed opening reception


Thank goodness for digital photography. Otherwise, Tracy Collins would need a cut of Bruce Ratner's $billion-plus Atlantic Yards subsidy to pay for all the "film" he's shot over the past nine years documenting Ratner's boondoggle.

Photographer Tracy Collins has been chronicling the rapidly changing urban landscape since the Atlantic Yards project was announced in 2003. His exhibit Atlantic Yards Deconstructed traces the “on the ground” impacts of the development over the past 9 years through photography, video and other media.

Stop by for the opening reception Saturday, September 29 from 6:00 to 800PM at the Soapbox Gallery, 636 Dean Street (a block and a half from the arena).


Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

FUREE March for Housing, Jobs and Justice


Be sure not to miss today's events protesting Bruce Ratner's basketball arena bait-n-switch.

FUREE's 10th Annual Convention concludes with a 4:00pm march for accountable development starting from Bridge Street and Willoughby Street, and ending at Barclays Center.

Join FUREE and local residents for a march through communities under attack from greedy developers and their friends in government.


Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

September 28, 2012

9/28 8pm: Battle for Brooklyn Free, Outdoor Screening Tonight. Rain is Gone.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

8pm film screening of Battle for Brooklyn is on, free and outdoors at the Dean Street Playground. Dean Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue. [MAP]

Bring some sort of plastic sheeting to sit on the damp astroturf. Chairs not allowed. See you there.


Posted by eric at 8:04 PM

Atlantic Yards, It's A Crime! Community Organizations Join to Call for a New Plan at Atlantic Yards

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards – It's A Crime! Community Organizations Join to Call for a New Plan at Atlantic Yards Brooklyn Was Promised Much More Than an Arena

On the day of the opening of Barclays Center, a coalition of community organizations today joined in a protest of Atlantic Yards' failure to deliver on the promises of local jobs and affordable housing used to win approval for the $5 billion project, and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State of New York to present a new plan for the site that prioritizes public benefits over the development of luxury housing.

BrooklynSpeaks, Brown Community Development Corporation, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) and the Fifth Avenue Committee were joined by numerous civic groups and block associations in demanding that the State:


Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

As 40/40 Club opens the night before arena debuts, a vigil and march draws 150 people, James, Montgomery

Atlantic Yards Report

Michael D.D. White, in the photo at right, captures an image from the vigil last night that drew about 150 people to gather outside the Barclays Center and then circle it twice in fairly quiet protest. Inside Jay-Z's 40/40 Club was opening for a private, pre-arena-opening party, as detailed in the New York Post video at bottom.

White's photo captures the "Boondoggle Basics" flyer given out by protesting groups (more events today and tomorrow; rain venue 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue) framed by the digital advertising in the arena oculus for the 40/40 Club.

The main sponsors are Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the Fifth Avenue Committee, and Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), which took different postures on Atlantic Yards before it passed, with only DDDB going to court to try to block the project.

Since then, for example, DDDB and BrooklynSpeaks were joined in a successful lawsuit challenging the inadequacy of the environmental review, given that 2009 deal revisions gave developer Forest City Ratner 25 years to build the project. A Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) has been ordered but has not yet begun.

Perhaps two dozen people came from Occupy Wall Street; some intended to sleep overnight, but the police seemed unwilling to allow that.

Below, there are several more videos, most of them brief, that I shot.

Click through for more coverage of last night's protest.


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Scene in Ratnerville

NoLandGrab's Senior Asian-American Correspondent, Lumi Rolley, filed this report from NLG's Mobile One at 5:45 this morning from Brooklyn's Flatbush and Fifth Avenues:

Security presence in the now un-cordoned plaza. Occupy tenants sleeping in front of Nets shop. Four news vans, that weren't there yesterday, already parked in unloading zone and one talking head getting ready in the media bullpen.

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

WNYC on arena opening: ACORN's Lewis claims CBA was legitimate (but where's the compliance monitor?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder cleans up a flawed WNYC report on the opening of the Barclays Center, and the controversy surrounding it.

As Barclays Opens, Neighbors Still Grumble, reports WNYC. Those grumbling neighbors--could it be that Bruce Ratner doesn't keep his promises (as noted by the Observer).

The most interesting part of the article concerns the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which prompts Candace Carponter of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to call it unenforceable, and Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks to point out the inherent conflicted role of signatories, which rely on Forest City Ratner for support.

Why can't neutral experts on CBAs make this point as well?

Ratner's support

WNYC reports:

As of 2005, Forest City Ratner provided more than $100,000 to BUILD to begin to develop community outreach. The developer also committed at least $50,000 in funding to DBNA.

Hold on--these groups have received hundreds of thousands of dollars--surely over $1 million for BUILD, which in the most recent year got $340,000--from Forest City.


NoLandGrab: BUILD apparently could use another $115,000, toot sweet.

Related content...

WNYC, As Barclays Opens, Neighbors Still Grumble

Here's the best part, regarding the much-derided (and totally worthless) Community Benefits Agreement...

The document even called for a meditation room to be built inside the arena.

“I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but there is a meditation room [in the arena], that will be open during events, a non-denominational quiet space for people to get away from the arena,” said Ashley Cotton, executive vice president of External Affairs for Forest City Ratner Companies.

As Norman Oder writes: "The arena's opening tonight, so perhaps they will find it by then."

WFUV, Some Brooklyn Advocacy Groups Upset with "False Promises"

With the NBA gearing up soon, a lot of hoopla is surrounding the Barclay's Center and the Nets first season in Brooklyn. Michelle de la Uz says that's not helping. She says too many people are focusing on the entertainment side of the stadium, and ignoring the needs of local residents.

"We're not hearing about when is the housing going to be built, to what extent is it going to be affordable, or what size families will be able to live in the properties," she said.

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

Times: Barclays has undercut Garden's high prices for performers, though doesn't always pass on the savings

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times continues Synergy Week™ with an Arts section report on its Development Partner's new arena.

In Barclays Arena Rivals the Garden’s Glow, a New York Times Arts piece today reports that the Brooklyn arena has already established itself by booking some major acts and offering dates, and rates, unavailable at the busy, expensive Madison Square Garden:

“I consider it a godsend Barclays arena is there,” said Randy Phillips, the chief executive of AEG Live, one of the largest promoters in the country. “Prior to this we were really kind of held hostage on a tour to the availability of Madison Square Garden.”

The new $1 billion arena rises at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues like a modern sculpture, evoking a crashed alien spacecraft with its rusted-steel-and-glass facade and swooping lines. Inside, it is a sleek study in gray and black broken only by bright digital banners, with steeply raked rows of black seats that descend from the street level into the arena’s bowl. With clear sightlines and acoustic panels over hard surfaces to minimize reverb and noise, the space seems intimate yet open. For some, it is a symbol of Brooklyn’s cultural and economic renaissance, a sign the borough has come back from the long slide that started when the Dodgers left in 1957. But it is also a symbol of the borough’s growing stature as center for the arts.

It's also a symbol of the Culture of Cheating.


Related content...

The New York Times, Barclays Arena Rivals the Garden’s Glow

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

Post: many more food and beverage spots moving near arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Anyone walking around and near the Barclays Center, especially on the Flatbush Avenue side, can see there are empty retail spaces--or non-consumer ones--that are surely to be transformed. The New York Post reports, in Eateries in mad dash to Barclays ’hood:

With rap mogul/Nets co-owner Jay-Z christening the venue with an eight-night concert run starting tonight, Danny Meyer burgers-and-fries joint Shake Shack plans to soon move into prime Flatbush Avenue real estate across the street from the 18,200-seat arena, sources said.

Landlord Michael Pintchik refused to comment on the deal but confirmed two other restaurants were coming to nearby Flatbush Avenue property he owns by Dean Street that should also have foodies salivating.

The owners of super-trendy Delicatessen and Macbar in Manhattan are opening an offshoot eatery called Elbow Room a block away on Flatbush Avenue that also specializes in gourmet mac-and-cheese dishes.

Moving in next door will be a Texas-style barbecue joint “featuring a top pitmaster from Austin, Texas,” Pintchik said.

More than a dozen other new eateries are also in the works within three square blocks of the arena.

That's a little confusing, because there's a place called Elbow Room in the arena, on Atlantic Avenue.

See the Post for more, including reports of a tripling of retail rents.


Related content...

NY Post, Eateries in mad dash to Barclays ’hood

Yearly leasing rates on commercial space near Barclays Center ran about $55 to $65 a square foot when the arena broke ground in 2010, but now runs roughly $160 to $200, local brokers and property owners said.

“Every landlord was of the firm belief that the Messiah was coming and [Barclays Center] would drive up property values,” recalled Timothy King, a managing partner at CPEX Real Estate Services.

NoLandGrab: They were expecting the Messiah and all we got was Bruce Ratner?

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

In Wall Street Journal, arena consultant Schwartz spins on prepaid parking, comparison to Madison Square Garden

Atlantic Yards Report

Arena Parking in Play, the Wall Street Journal reported last night:

Some Brooklyn parking garage owners are jacking up prices and preparing special event rates in preparation for the thousands of people who may defy the warnings of city officials and drive to the Barclays Center when it opens Friday.

Ok, but what about the plan to provide nearly 2,000 pre-apaid parking spots "seamlessly," as promised by Sam Schwartz, consultant to the arena.

The Journal reports:

Only about 650 on-site parking spaces—including 150 for VIPs—were set aside, with the purpose of discouraging driving to Nets games, concerts and other events at the 18,000-seat capacity arena. Another 700 will be available through arrangements with private garages.

So there's a deficit, as I reported 9/6/12. (Also, there are only 541 on-site spots, by my count, unless they're counting spots at the Atlantic Center mall.)


Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

"Prime Brooklyn Retail" still available on Flatbush Avenue side of Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

Is the arena finished? Well, on the day the Barclays Center opens, they're still looking for a tenant on Flatbush Avenue, toward Dean Street below the Nets Shop.


NoLandGrab: Perhaps the rent is too damn high?

Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 10:53 AM

Noticing New York Public Comment At Today’s MTA Board Meeting On the Subject Of MTA’s Devoting Public Assets To Advertising

Noticing New York

Following up on three Noticing New York articles on the subject I appeared at today’s MTA board meeting and gave comment about revisions reportedly under consideration by the MTA to revise its policies about how freely its public assets are used to promote or promulgate questionable or embarrassing messages the MTA might not want to be seen as implicitly endorsing.

I was the first of nine speakers this morning, eight of which spoke about the subject of advertising. The other, in a wheelchair, spoke about accessibility of the system to the wheelchair-bound. The subject of the use of the MTA system’s assets for undesirable advertising had been brought to the fore and covered in the press because Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative won a case against the MTA wherein the MTA was recently judicially ordered to run ads from her organization that include anti-Arab slurs and tell subway riders to “Support Israel” in the Middle East conflict. I have made the point in Noticing New York that the MTA’s very costly devotion of assets in the promotion of “Barclays” is comparably, and in several ways more, embarrassing.

The MTA is more intricately involved in the Barclays promotion and, given the record, its complicity is easier to argue and seem to have been more premeditated.


Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY AT 11am FILM SCREENING TONIGHT 8pm Atlantic Yards – It’s A Crime! Events on September 28, 29 Brooklyn Was Promised Much More Than An Arena

As Barclays Center Opens, Series of Events Highlights Failures of Atlantic Yards and Demands for Change

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Please note the alternate locations indicated below for rain contingency

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 (arena opening day)

11AM: Press conference @ Barclays Center
At the MTA Entrance in the Daily News Sponsored Plaza in Front of Barclays Center
NOTE: In the event of rain, the press conference will be indoors at 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue [ Map ]
Hear from individuals impacted by the project including former project supporters, former supporters who are now plaintiffs in federal lawsuit against Forest City Ratner and B.U.I.L.D, as well as organizers, and find out from planning experts what needs to happen at the project site going forward.

12PM - 4PM: Popup actions all around the Barclays Center

5PM: Virtual rally—tweet #BarclaysCenter and @AYCrimeScene for housing and jobs now.

4-6PM: Occupy Wall Street Guitarmy’s Teach-in in Response to Jay-Z Comments

8PM: Free outdoor screening of Battle For Brooklyn (battleforbrooklyn.com)
@ Dean Playground Ball Field, just half a block from the arena
(Dean St. between 6th Ave. and Carlton Ave. MAP)
NOTE: In the event of rain, the screening will be indoors at 669 Atlantic Avenue, corner of S. Portland Avenue [ Map ]

Posted by eric at 10:18 AM

Two Competing Messages, Differently Illuminated: Announcement of Opening of Jay-Z 40-40 Club And Candles Walked Around “Barclays” Arena In Protest

Noticing New York

The above image (click to enlarge) is a photograph taken at tonight’s Candle Light Vigil led by local politicians and clergy: A mega-bright Barclays “oculus” promotion for the opening of the Jay-Z 40-40 Club, the mega-wattage illuminating it paid for by the tax bills Jay-Z and the “Barclays” Center don’t pay . . . and candles walked counterclockwise twice around the arena in community protest illuminating the alternative message for the evening.

The community events protesting the arena's opening continue tomorrow and Saturday.


Posted by eric at 12:16 AM

The Brooklyn Nets’ Cheerleader Uniforms: Confronting the Nightmare

by Caity Weaver

Gawker's Caity Weaver goes all Norman Oder on the just-revealed Brooklyn Nets' cheerleaders', er, uniforms.

The new Brooklyn Nets' Brooklynettes cheerleader uniforms were revealed this week, and they are bad. They are bad in ways you would expect, like a cropped warm up jacket. They are bad in surprising new ways, like "painted sequin leggings." Because they are complicated, multi-piece ensembles, they are bad in many ways. Because they mostly consist of pieces of fabric bearing the word BROOKLYN in capital letters, they are bad in ways that seem Brooklyn-specific, but are, in fact, universal.

The above image, posted on the official Brooklynettes Facebook page, is of a now-defunct Croatian pop group called Saves9 who opened for M2M on three dates of their European tour in the spring of 2000. Just kidding! Those are the Brooklynettes. The four outfits represent only a taste of the squad's horrific ensemble (not pictured: "a neoprene scuba blazer with sequin leggings, a little cropped warm-up jacket, and painted sequin leggings"). However, because the only way to get over a nightmare is to confront it head on, let's steel ourselves for a quick analysis.

In case you were wondering what kind of person would do such a thing to Brooklyn, the answer, reports the Post, is David Dalrymple. Dalrymple designed the nude-sequined bodysuit Britney Spears wore to the 2000 VMAs and travels back to that decade via time machine frequently for design inspiration.


Posted by eric at 12:08 AM

Ratner: “We’ve Kept Every Single Promise We’ve Ever Made”

NY Observer
by Kit Dillon

So Barclays Bruce Ratner told Charles Bagli today. In typical fashion, The Times scribe cut the Brooklyn developer down to size without so much as uttering a nasty word against him, as he has done to so many big builders and outsized egos over the years.

We could count the ways in which Mr. Ratner has broken his promises over the years, on jobs, housing, subsidies, timetables, architects… the list goes on and on, but we’ll leave that up to Norman Oder.

After all, Mr. Ratner qualifies his promises in the conditional, adding, “We’ve built the arena. They said we’d never build it. And I’m going to build the affordable housing.” Fair enough.

Better still, let’s let Mr. Bagli himself count the ways in which Mr. Ratner has snookered the city over the years. His writing is as understated as Mr. Ratner’s work is bombastic.


Posted by eric at 12:04 AM

September 27, 2012

The laser lights on the roof of the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center's anti-missile defenses seem to be up and running.


Photo: AYInfoNYC

Asked for comment about the lasers emanating from the roof of the Death Star arena, and this evening's planned candlelight vigil, Bruce Ratner had this to say...

Posted by eric at 11:53 PM

Gridlock Sam's warning: don't drive to Downtown Brooklyn this weekend (but they're still selling arena-related parking)

Atlantic Yards Report

Carmageddon, Ratner-style!

Traffic consultant Sam Schwartz, aka Gridlock Sam, warns in his weekend column/press release, Don’t even THINK of driving in Downtown Brooklyn this weekend! Downtown Brooklyn Streets to be Jam Packed with Barclays Center Jay-Z Concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Atlantic Antic Cuts Off Atlantic Ave. on Sunday.

That may be wise advice, but Schwartz also served as a consultant to the Barclays Center, which offers a link to pre-paid parking in and around Downtown Brooklyn, including along Atlantic Avenue, site of the Atlantic Antic.

And though the city Department of Transportation warns that Atlantic Avenue will be closed from 11 am through 6 pm Sunday, Schwartz warns that Atlantic Avenue "may not reopen fully until 7:30 p.m."

What does that mean for those buying remote parking along Atlantic Avenue, with arrival beginning at 6 pm and a shuttle bus along Atlantic supposed to begin at that hour? Unclear, but it seems likely there will be delays. The Barclays Parking web site does not warn potential purchasers of that possibility.


Related coverage...

NBC New York, Gridlock Alert Near Barclays for Jay-Z Concerts

Anyone planning to attend the Jay-Z concerts marking the grand opening of the Barclays Center this weekend are urged to take public transportation there, and drivers in the area should be aware of a major gridlock alert there.

The new sports and concert arena in downtown Brooklyn is expected to draw almost 20,000 people to the busiest section in Brooklyn -- Flatbush and Atlantic avenues -- at the height of Friday's rush hour alone.

According to local traffic expert Gridlock Sam, drivers should avoid Flatbush Avenue from Tillary Street to Grand Army Plaza, and Atlantic Avenue from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to Bedford Avenue, as well as streets near the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, particularly from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

NY Daily News, Snarling traffic and high ticket prices for Jay-Z concert to christen Brooklyn's Barclays Center

Brooklyn may not have 99 problems, but on Friday night, it will certainly have two: affording a ticket to the first concert at the new Barclays Center and dealing with the traffic nightmare that the Jay-Z show will cause.

The rap superstar will christen the sparkling arena with the first of eight concerts — and the average ticket price has shot to $223, with floor seats selling for an average of $667, according to an analysis by SeatGeek.com, a ticket search engine.

The Wall Street Journal, Arena Parking in Play

Some Brooklyn parking garage owners are jacking up prices and preparing special event rates in preparation for the thousands of people who may defy the warnings of city officials and drive to the Barclays Center when it opens Friday.

One lot on the corner of Atlantic and Grand avenues—more than half a mile from the arena—is advertising a $30 flat rate for Barclays events, said owner Moe Rahmati. Another nearby garage on Washington Avenue will offer a special event rate, though the price hasn't been decided, said Megan Kian, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Parking Systems.

Brooklyn residents are still expecting the worst. Nick Baytler, 29, of Park Slope, said he plans to come home early every day from his job in medical sales to beat the Nets game crowds looking to park on his street. "I'm bracing myself," said Mr. Baytler, but added, "We'll survive because they'll leave when the game is over."

mcbrooklyn, Gridlock Alert for Downtown Brooklyn this Weekend

What with the Atlantic Antic and the Barclays Center concerts, "Gridlock Sam" (Sam Schwartz) has declared a Gridlock Alert for Downtown Brooklyn, along Flatbush and Atlantic avenues all weekend.

Posted by eric at 11:36 PM

Crime Report: Several Burglaries on Washington Avenue

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

"Grand Theft Land" wasn't the only crime going down near the intersection of Brooklyn's Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues last week.

Purse Stolen

A 45-year-old woman placed her handbag on a shelf while shopping at the Old Navy store at the Atlantic Center mall at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 23, police said. When she looked for her bag five minutes later, she realized that someone had stolen it, according to cops.


Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

At Barclays Center plaza, sponsored by the Daily News, a Daily News banner

Atlantic Yards Report

A reward for their unflagging, unquestioning, unholy and unhinged support for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.


Photo: AYInfoNYC

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Two Dailies Partnered Now With Forest City Ratner. Rupert, Whatcha Waiting For?

So the New York Times Company partnered with Forest City Ratner, using eminent domain, to build the paper's new headquarters. And now the plaza in front of the arena is proudly sponsored by the Daily News.

Does this mean Murdoch will now be friends with the enemy of his enemies? If so, see you at the AYCrimeScene events tonight.

Posted by eric at 6:19 PM

Hey, you shouldn't go underground (and pay a subway fare) to get to the LIRR

Atlantic Yards Report

Great moments in urban planning!


NoLandGrab: Hey, why make provisions for patrons to be able to connect underground when you could have them cross the half-dozen lanes of Brooklyn's Avenue of Death?

Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 6:10 PM

Job-training group BUILD, signatory of CBA and Atlantic Yards booster, on shaky ground with budget, back taxes, and spending (Nets tickets, rent, precinct council), according to former CFO's complaint to NY AG

Atlantic Yards Report

This is shocking! Who ever would've expected such a thing?!

Norman Oder has today's big exclusive.

The job-training organization Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), a controversial but intensely loyal source of community support for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards, is on shaky ground, its former Chief Financial Officer has charged in a complaint (bottom) to the New York State Attorney General.

BUILD, which formed as Atlantic Yards was unveiled and has relied on Forest City for free office space/utilities and most of its funding, has seen its budget run low, even as it owes more than $115,000 in back payroll taxes, according to the complaint.

Moreover, the letter charges that CEO James Caldwell has spent money irresponsibly, including for Brooklyn Nets tickets ($8700), rent for five individuals, a car payment, clothing for a subordinate, and for the 77th Precinct Community Council, which he heads. Larger sums were allegedly misallocated to items seemingly part of BUILD's mission--like MetroCards for trainees, part of $38,201 for transportation--but not authorized by its funders.

BUILD's former CFO Lance Woodward, fired August 1 in what he contends was a wrongful act, has urged the Attorney General's Charities Bureau, which oversees non-profit organizations, to investigate. He asks for Caldwell be removed from BUILD, a new board established, and restitution of misallocated funds.

His letter, backed by voluminous appendices, charges Caldwell with misallocating and misappropriating more than $120,000 from 1/1/11 to 8/31/12, using BUILD checks and its credit card.

There's clearly deep tension between the two men, though they were once quite close. Some have described Woodward as "like a son" to Caldwell, who helped the younger man get his footing after he was once homeless.

The dismissal letter Caldwell provided Woodward cited insubordination, failure to perform duties, and lack of proper supervisory performance--none of which, according to Woodward, were the subject of written or verbal warnings.

Do read on.


Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

It looks like the arena perimeter is getting fortified

Atlantic Yards Report


Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

All Black Everything: A Brooklyn Nets Style Guide

The Barclays Center opens tomorrow as the home of the Brooklyn Nets. The team may not lead their conference, but their merchandise is a top seller at the N.B.A. store online. Below, a guide to the Nets’ change of clothes.

The New York Times
by Alicia DeSantis

Not enough synergy for you yet? Here's more.


Jay-Z, a minority owner of the Nets, had a hand in the design of the team’s logo. The look reflects his oft-stated preference for black — the signature color of the Jay-Z brand.

On the cover of “The Black Album,” Jay-Z wears a baseball cap that seems to have no logo, but he is a well-known Yankees fan. In a Budweiser ad that ran during the Olympics this summer, he traded his signature “fitted” for a Nets cap. (Anheuser-Busch is a partner of the Barclays Center.)


“We Brooklyn-ized who we are, which I think is critical,” said Brett Yormark, chief executive of the Nets and Barclays Center, and a former Nascar executive. “The goal is to become a lifestyle brand. We want to transcend sports. We want people to consume us as often as possible.”

Yes, they run through all five.


NoLandGrab: Is there a section of The Times that hasn't gotten in on the action?

Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli and Joseph Berger

Shark Synergy week continues in The New York Times!

Look at that determination and resolve!

Bruce C. Ratner did not pretend to be much of a basketball fan when he paid $300 million in 2004 for the New Jersey Nets. Before long, the team had the worst record in the National Basketball Association, and he had a reputation as one of the worst owners in professional sports.

But he also had the leverage he needed to pull off a real estate megadeal.

The purchase was the most glaring demonstration of Mr. Ratner’s single-minded dedication to a goal: building a 22-acre, $4.9 billion project in the heart of Brooklyn, the largest development project in the borough’s history. Though the Atlantic Yards plan also called for residential towers, a significant portion of which will be subsidized, he sold it to the public as a way to finally bring professional sports back to the borough.

“So, how did we get here?” Mr. Ratner asked last week, almost giddy, at the ribbon cutting of the nation’s most expensive basketball arena, the Barclays Center. “We first needed to buy a basketball team, and against all odds we did it.”


NoLandGrab: "Against all odds?" He must be delusional. The game was rigged in Ratner's favor from day one. "How did we get here?" You lied, cheated and connived your way, that's how.

Photo: Richard Perry/The New York Times

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report Front-page New York Times profile of Bruce Ratner buries the lead: "promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms"

In which we leave the dissection to Norman Oder...

A front-page New York Times profile of Bruce Ratner, headlined Nets Helped Clear Path for Builder in Brooklyn, contains enough criticism (and one new revelation about Ratner tactics) to avoid being a puff piece, but it barely touches on all the reasons for criticism.

But what if the article had proceeded from the observation lower down in the article, regarding "his reputation for promising anything to get a deal, only to renegotiate relentlessly for more favorable terms"? That might have led to the Culture of Cheating.

Ratner claims “We’ve kept every single promise we’ve ever made,” which is simply a lie.

His new mantra, apparently, is "they said we'd never build" the arena. No one ever counted that as a promise. Rather, he promised, "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops." He got rid of the office jobs, plans to cut down the construction jobs, fudged about the arena jobs, etc. Culture of Cheating.

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

Barclays blastoff

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Barclays Center opens tomorrow with the first in a series of eight concerts by rap mogul Jay-Z — and city, MTA and arena workers are working overtime to prepare for the mobs of people heading there.

The MTA on Monday opened its new $76 million subway entrance in the plaza of the 18,200-seat arena, providing swift access to the main entrance at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. After the concerts, Nets games and other arena events, the agency says, it will add service on many of the 11 lines that stop there and will double LIRR service from Atlantic Terminal.

Fans planning to drive to the arena got good news Monday with the long-awaited reopening of the nearby Carlton Avenue Bridge, which closed for renovations in 2008.

Traffic agents and cops will be in full force near the arena to help ensure that pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow smoothly.


NoLandGrab: We fully expect a traffic disaster, so please, prove us wrong and don't drive. Here's some help...

Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Park Slope-based programmer helps arena fans make quick departure from Brooklyn

Spectators will be able to time their exit from the new arena thanks to software that pinpoints the location of their train, allowing them to avoid the unpleasantries of being cooped up like a sardine on a crowded platform.

Once events at the new arena come to a close, schedules and service updates for subways and Long Island Rail Road trains will be beamed to hundreds of TV screens throughout arena.

The feature — provided by the Park Slope-based mobile app company Roadify — is part of a push to encourage arena-goers to use mass transit.

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

Promoting Obfuscation of What Government Does and Doesn’t Do To Give The Private Sector (Including Ratner) More Credit

Noticing New York

The main problem when government gets enmeshed in advertising, lending out public assets as vehicles for corporate advertising and corporate promotion, is that it obfuscates what government does and doesn’t do.

Notwithstanding how promotional advertising images are seemingly plastered everywhere in the transit system these days, anyone who thinks that corporate advertising and promotions pay for any substantial portion of government services isn’t keeping track of their decimal points. The public pays for virtually all of what government provides; in the MTA’s case that's more than 99%.

Yet the MTA bends over backwards to accommodate the 1%.

. . . Does the MTA endorse promotion of the Barclays Bank, virtually synonymous with the LIBOR scandal in connection with which the MTA, amongst other New York government entities, may be suing Barclays for losses? The MTA has deeply subsidized the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” Center basketball arena that promotes that bank’s name and the MTA has named two subway hub stations in Brooklyn after the bank. No! The MTA says that it similarly disavows such promotion of the bank. . . .

. . . But, if that’s so, why does MTA Chairman Joe Lhota show up at the heavily promotional hoopla event celebrating the opening of that “Barclays” Center arena?


Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

The Barclays Center Gets Illuminated By The Illuminator: "World's Most Crooked Bank"

Atlantic Yards Report

From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, The Barclays Center Gets Illuminated By The Illuminator: last night the Illuminator came to the side of the Barclays Center and projected several messages.

Below is one of them, declaring the scandal-enmeshed Barclays, which bought arena naming rights, "World's Most Crooked Bank."

Go to DDDB for the rest, including "Eminent Domain Abuse" and "Occupy."


Posted by eric at 10:14 AM

Playing Ball in Brooklyn Arts

The Wall Street Journal

The Journal, which is not a development partner of Forest City Ratner, is still willing to do its part for the New York media's "Barclays Center Week."

Mikhail Prokhorov is making a name for himself in Brooklyn.

The owner of the Brooklyn Nets and his sister, Irina Prokhorova, have made a $1 million grant to the Brooklyn Academy of Music through the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund. The grant will be announced Thursday at a cocktail reception before the BAM 30 Next Wave Gala, as will the new artistic partnership the grant will support, the TransCultural Express: American and Russian Arts Today.

"BAM is our next door neighbor in Brooklyn. Barclays Center arena is a five-minute walk," he wrote in an email. "They are strategic advisors on the cultural programming for the arena. What do good neighbors do? They hold a block party, they borrow sugar from one another and they collaborate on projects for the neighborhood, which is what we are doing."


NoLandGrab: Gotta hand it to Bruce. He chairs BAM's board to burnish his image, gets BAM to come out and shill for his boondoggle, and then gets Proky to pay them off. Well played, sir!

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ: Prokhorov. "successful businessman in his home country," gives $1 million to BAM

Well, there are various definitions of "good neighbors," and the construction of the Barclays Center has not been so neighborly. As for "successful businessman," in post-Soviet Russia, that covers a lot of ground, including common corrupt if not illegal dealings.

Charitable contributions, especially when accompanied by pleasant press coverage, help people forget that.

NLG: Yeah, if they're "good" neighbors, we'd hate to see bad ones.

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

Prokhorov not ready to score hockey team for Brooklyn until Nets win title

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he won't consider buying the Islanders or another NHL team and moving them to Brooklyn until he first makes good on a promise to deliver the borough an NBA championship by 2015.

"First I need to have a championship, so after this I can think — but not before," Prokhorov told the Post following Friday’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting of the new Barclays Center.

When asked if it’s important to have a second pro team playing in Barclays Center with the Nets, Prokhorov said he only has 45 percent interest in the arena and that arena developer Bruce Ratner "knows best."

"If [Ratner] wants to, it’s great, but it is better for him to make the decision," Prokhorov said.


NoLandGrab: In that case, abandon all hope, ye Nyets fans! Since the Barclays Center is not compatible with NHL hockey, we guess that means the Nyets will never win a championship.

Posted by eric at 9:49 AM

PHNDC: report concerns about arena impacts to Atlantic Yards Watch, 311, 911, and/or the 78th Precinct

Atlantic Yards Report

As the Barclays Center arena opens tomorrow, September 28, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a sponsor of Atlantic Yards Watch, reminds us that the impact on streets and sidewalks--traffic, crowds, drivers searching for parking--remain unknown.

To report concerns about the arena:

1) Call 911 (note complaint tracking number) to report any incidents that require immediate police attention. (Remember to note your complaint tracking number.)
2) Call 311 (note complaint tracking number) or the 78th Precinct (718-636-6411) to report any issues that are not emergencies but require attention the evening of an event, such as illegal parking, cars on sidewalks.
3) Go to Atlantic Yards Watch to file reports, ask questions, and upload video and photos, or call 760-569-6374. Incident reports are read regularly by the Mayor's Office liaison for Atlantic Yards, Empire State Development, and Forest City Ratner.

A calendar of arena events is available on the Barclays website. PHNDC will ask the Barclays Center to make the calendar more easily scannable for residents and develop other communications to keep the community informed about events and developments at the site.


Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

Daily News goes rogue: critics "filed 200 eminent domain lawsuits"

Atlantic Yards Report

From a not completely cogent Daily News article posted last night and headlined Barclays Center set to dazzle at Brooklyn’s new Crossroads of the World: As top acts line up to schedule a gig at the gleaming new arena, critics continue to curse its arrival:

Critics — who filed 200 eminent domain lawsuits protesting what they called a “sham” environmental review process — say the 2,250 affordable housing units promised, along with rail renovations and open space, still have not been provided.

Um, there were two eminent domain lawsuits, plus another challenging the act of condemnation.

And those suits challenged the taking of private property, not the environmental review.


NoLandGrab: Perhaps the naming rights to the "Daily News Plaza" have addled their brains (even more than usual).

Related content...

NY Daily News, Barclays Center set to dazzle at Brooklyn’s new Crossroads of the World

Here's the buried lead...

So far, only 200 of the 2,000 new jobs produced by the arena are full-time, Forest City Ratner officials conceded.

Posted by eric at 9:34 AM

Ads at the oculus and arena entrance: lots of sound (and maybe crowd dispersal capacity)

Atlantic Yards Report

Just in case you're wondering what the oculus might sound like... take a look at these videos. And in case there's a need to disperse a crowd, they can turn up the volume.

(Videos by AYInfoNYC)


NoLandGrab: But don't worry — it'll be turned off from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Posted by eric at 9:26 AM

9/28 8pm Indoor Location for Battle for Brooklyn in Case of Rain is 669 Atlantic Avenue

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Should it rain for the Friday, September 28th, 8pm outdoor screening of Battle for Brooklyn the indoors venue is:

669 Atlantic Avenue, Corner of Atlantic and South Portland. [Map]


Posted by eric at 9:16 AM

ESD names Derek Lynch for long-open position as Government and Community Affairs Manager

Atlantic Yards Report

Just before the Barclays Center opens, Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards has finally hired a Government and Community Affairs Manager for the position long left open by the June 2011 departure of Forrest Taylor, once billed as an ombudsman but more of a disempowered facilitator.

The position was left open as neighbors endured a steady stream of untoward impacts--violations of construction and traffic protocols or procedures with too little safeguards. Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, ESD, said in August 2011 that she hoped to hire someone soon and that that person could be more proactive and responsive in community engagement.

New hire

Today Hankin circulated a message:

This past Monday, Derek Lynch started at Empire State Development as the new Government and Community Affairs Manager for the Atlantic Yards Project. He will be working in Brooklyn helping to mitigate the impacts of the Atlantic Yards Project while ensuring that the local community benefits from the jobs and affordable housing created.


NoLandGrab: That job description sets Mr. Lynch up for major failure.

Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

In the shadow of the Barclays Center, a multifamily passive house retrofit

Just a few blocks away from the controversial new home of the Brooklyn Nets, the country's first multifamily passive house project has officially hit the market. Thank goodness for triple-pane windows, right?

Mother Nature Network
by Matt Hickman

Unlike a certain LEED Silver-seeking arena up the road that’s due to officially open in a couple of days with a series of sold-out Jay-Z concerts, Haus 96 doesn’t stick out like a rusty, rubberneck-inducing sore thumb.


Posted by eric at 9:04 AM

September 26, 2012

Anticipating Fallout From Lobbyist’s Legal Cooperation

The New York Times
by Thomas Kaplan and David W. Chen

The halls of the New York State Capitol have for years provided a happy hunting ground for prosecutors and ethics investigators.

Over the last six years, 27 elected officials in Albany have been indicted, convicted, censured, or otherwise accused of misconduct, according to a running tally maintained by the New York Public Interest Research Group. The allegations have been diverse; they include a senator attacking a photographer and an assemblyman having an affair with an intern.

Now, it seems probable that the list will grow: Richard J. Lipsky, a well-known city and state lobbyist convicted of bribing former State Senator Carl Kruger, has been secretly cooperating with the federal authorities, suggesting that other elected officials could soon find themselves in trouble with the law.

Elected officials, and perhaps the developers who bribe them?

“I thought, ‘Who did Lipsky turn on?’ ” said State Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat who has pushed to improve ethics rules in Albany. She added, “I bet many people in elected office and in the lobbying world said to themselves, ‘I wonder if it’s X.’”

Solve for X. Here's a hint.

His clients in recent years have included the Red Apple Group, which operates the Gristedes supermarket chain, and the developer Forest City Ratner, and he gave tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to officials at the city and state levels.

“A lot of members who started with me are no longer here because they are being housed elsewhere,” City Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn observed Tuesday. She would not be surprised, she said, if Mr. Lipsky tried to reveal “some sordid and/or illegal relationships,” given his extensive dealings with the City Council and the number of big projects the Council has debated.

“A lot of people are bracing themselves for what tomorrow holds,” Ms. James said. “I just hope it’s not any of my colleagues.”


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Catching up: Powell on Ratner; permit parking; Lipsky talks; new arena sponsors

Norman Oder weighs in on this, and other, news.

Does this mean he'd implicate Forest City or local officials involved with Atlantic Yards? I doubt the former, and have no idea about the latter.

Posted by eric at 12:55 PM

NY Times Attacks Courageous Brooklyn Anti-Development Activist

by Randy Shaw

Does it really take indy media from the other coast to figure this out?

Daniel Goldstein spent years battling the Atlantic Yard Development project in Brooklyn, which saw Forest City Ratner---the development partner with the New York Times Company for its headquarters-- skirt the democratic process and every jobs and affordable housing commitment it made to the community. The rigged approval process for the mammoth project was upheld by New York’s highest court, and the Barclay Center soon opens---without any accompanying affordable housing units. The Times has apparently not forgiven Goldstein for opposing Ratner, for it ran a huge September 25 story on a neighbor’s opposition to Goldstein’s adding an extension on his single family home. Unlike Atlantic Yards, which required massive rezoning and a gift of public land to the developer, Goldstein’s project complies with existing zoning---but that did not stop the Times from analogizing opposition to his extension with Goldstein’s protests against Atlantic Yards.

Goldstein lost his activist struggle and related lawsuit, and because his home was taken by eminent domain, he was compensated to move. He relocated to Brooklyn’s South Park Slope neighborhood, likely seeking to live in peace after devoting his life to defeat a project that symbolizes---as much as any Robert Moses outrage---how New York City development interests avoid democratic control and ignore community concerns.

But after the NY Times learned that Goldstein is building an extension on his house, the paper concluded that the critic of Atlantic Yards has set off “a real estate battle of his own.” Does this new battle involve thousands marching in the streets in protest, as occurred with Atlantic Yards? Is Goldstein following Ratner’s lead and seeking massive zoning variances and public subsidies for his “development”?

The obvious answer to both question is no.

Sounds like a classic case of next- door- neighbor nimbyism. Yet the Times attempted to compare this neighbor’s opposition to the thousands of community residents who joined with Goldstein in a multi-year struggle to stop the decimation of a residential community. The Times was so committed to falsely and maliciously portraying Goldstein as a hypocrite toward development that it highlighted its story on the front page of the national edition.

I’m sure Bruce Ratner and his buddies at the NY Times Corp. are having a good laugh over the story, but neither can ignore the fundamental truth: None of Forest City Ratner’s promises about jobs and affordable housing at Atlantic Yards have been implemented, and attacking Goldstein only remind readers of this record.


NoLandGrab: In fact, the opposition to the Atlantic Yards project has only landed on the front page of The Times twice — when Goldstein reached his settlement for compensation for his home after it was seized, and now this nonsense. And people wonder if the paper has an objectivity problem? Cancel our subscription.

Posted by eric at 12:48 PM

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: A Farewell to Terrorism — and a Welcome to Drunk Drivers

by Alan Rosner (co-author of a white paper on arena security and terrorism issues published in 2005)

The Barclays Center will be opening in a matter of days. Different critics who had different thought experiments regarding how Atlantic Yards would play out will now get to see it all happen in real time. I wish us, especially those living nearby, the best.

With this post for NoLandGrab today I’m closing the book on my thought experiment — institutional responses to Atlantic Yards in a post-9/11 environment. It seems the Barclays Center will be opening with Department of Homeland Security approval. Writing about this just after the 11th anniversary of 9/11 feels as surreal as seeing the design for the original Frank Gehry all-glass arena trotted out just three years after the attack, with plans to site it a scant 20 feet from the curb.

Interestingly, shortly after the Gehry hoopla, there was a major delay at Ground Zero. The plans for redevelopment had to be redone to relocate the Freedom Tower further away from the street and remove all street level glass, replacing it with stainless steel.

Well, that’s Manhattan. Here in Brooklyn, despite a post-Gehry redesign, the street-level glass stays, and the Atlantic Avenue side of the arena gets cantilevered outwards, making it twelve feet closer to the street. Go figure… be happy. We missed having Mayor Bloomberg's (and Dan Doctoroff's) Olympics, but we’ll soon have our circus opening… the 1%’s gift for public spectacle and their own profit, per usual, at our expense.

So time to move on, say, to thinking about how the absolute scale of alcohol sales at the arena — regardless of the hour such sales end — will effect our surrounding communities.

Consider: arena liquor sales will supply local streets with a wave of energized, above- or near-over-the-legal-limit drivers with ample opportunities to purchase more alcohol going to their cars. The ongoing surge of liquor license applications, happening for good reason, makes the problem worse. Size, or more politely, scale, matters.

So will the NYPD and Forest City Ratner increase the number of random sobriety checkpoints and make a concerted effort to publicize that they will enforce drunk driving ordinances as strictly as they will parking violations? And will our local elected officials and community groups hold city officials & the NYPD to their public safety responsibilities to keep drunk driving to a minimum? Stay tuned….

For the record… beyond the relocation of One World Trade Center, the City of Newark, since 2007, has closed local streets for every Prudential Center event due to fears of terrorism. Meanwhile, last year my homeowner’s insurance renewal, for the first time, had a mandatory terrorism rider. We predicted this in 2005, and while currently cheap, the Feds can stop underwriting terrorism insurance in 2017, at which point local redlining issues very well may come into play.

Posted by eric at 12:47 PM

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center: First visit to the “brutalist dog turd”

Field of Schemes
by Neil deMause

I paid my first up-close-and-personal visit to the Brooklyn Nets‘ Barclays Center on Monday, and … well, suffice to say that the giant Barclays logo on the roof is the least remarkable element of the place (click on photos to enlarge):

It’s very brown. Or browns.

The roof of the subway entrance is covered with environmentally friendly sod seeded with plants. Which is already peeling off.

Other than that, the main impression I came away with was “Man, that’s a lot of brown.” It definitely makes a major architectural statement; whether it’s the kind of statement the neighbors will ever grow to love is an open question, and probably one that will depend less on architecture than on whether arenagoers take the train as hoped, or insist on driving around in circles for an hour looking for parking. I expect that large numbers of Jay-Z attendees this weekend will be able to handle public transit; when the Barbra Streisand fans descend after that, though, watch out.


Related coverage...

Bloomberg Businessweek, Jay Z Concerts to Open Rusty $1 Billion Barclays Center

Unlike its namesake Mayor, Bloomberg's architecture critic is unimpressed.

A huge frog has landed in Brooklyn.

It’s the exceedingly strange $1 billion Barclays Center opening on Sept. 28. Rapper Jay-Z leads off with eight sold-out shows in the 19,000-seat concert hall.

As we've been saying...

Designed to favor basketball, Barclays wraps faceted seating tiers tightly around the court. That means the arena can’t accommodate the longer playing surface of professional hockey, said Stephen J. Duethman, the Kansas City-based managing principal of AECOM, on a walk-through.

NoLandGrab: That's interesting. The arena does have a regulation-sized rink, but the seating configuration for hockey is awful. But Bruce Ratner, Brett Yormark and company have repeatedly claimed they're trying to lure the Islanders — who were scheduled to play an exhibition game there on October 2nd before the NHL locked out its players — to the Barclays Center come 2015. Ain't gonna happen.

Brownstoner, Architecture Critics Turn Eye Toward Barclays

Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

Bike parking installed at southeast side of arena

Atlantic Yards Report

There should be 400 spaces, attended during events. The parking would be indoors only when Building 3 is constructed.


Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Creators of Atlantic Yards film, Battle for Brooklyn, Talk Opening of Barclays Center, Jay-z, Corruption, and More (Pt. 2)

Runnin' Scared
by Jason Lewis

Yesterday we introduced you to Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, co-directors of the film Battle for Brooklyn.

The film follows Brooklyn apartment owner Daniel Goldstein and his fight to save his home from real estate developer Bruce Ratner and other powerful New York City figures and officials seeking to displace residents from their homes in order to make way for Ratner's Atlantic Yards development project.

Michael on hosting a free screening on the night of the debut concert event at the Barclays Center:

Michael: [The screening] starts at 8 p.m. and Jay-z goes on at about 10 p.m., so they can stop by and see it. What would happen is, they would enjoy the movie and they would enjoy Jay-z. No one is saying that Jay-z isn't incredibly talented, and I think he's pretty awesome at what he does. I don't think there's anyone better -- well there's a few people better. But, the point is, it's not us versus them, it's more of a having information versus not knowing.

There's going to be a certain amount of protest, but certainly not aimed at the people going to see Jay-z. It's really aimed at getting the media to pay attention to the fact that every promise was broken, and that the system is rigged against the average person. That's really what it's about. I have no problem with anyone going to see Jay-z. I have no problem with anyone going to see the Nets. I do want them to know what happened, so that when this kind of thing happens again, people will have a little bit more knowledge and a little bit more ability to make it better for the public.

Will you do something like this again?

Michael: Hell no! It almost killed us. We spent eight years on this project.

Suki: That shows why it was so difficult for the media to even begin to tell the story. It was very complex, complicated. It took eight years. It was just a difficult story, that's very hard to convey in an entertaining way. I felt like we did a pretty good job. Once again, we tried to more like Frank Capra than Michael Moore. In the sense that we wanted to tell a compelling story and a universal story rather than a political polemic.


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

Ten Little Indians Style: Wings Aflame, Moths Around The Flame of Eminent Domain Abuse Find Themselves Crashing Out Of The Picture In Succession

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White sings a dirge for those perpetrators of Atlantic Yards who didn't make it to last week's arena ribbon-cutting.

It is happening in real life: They are dropping like flies! Remember the many “Ten Little Indians” films . . . quite a few remakes were made of the beloved yarn, derived from the Agatha Christie’s classic mystery tale? You remember the plot: A select little club of invitees (enticed for a frolic to a mysterious island) get picked off one by one and swiftly the ominousness and inevitable direction the scheme unfolding is understood by everyone, audience together with the crew of characters in the story itself: Pretty soon the group’s population is going to be brought to zero by the death-dispensing machinations of an unseen hand. Hence the other well known title for the story, “And Then There Were None.”

Spoiler Alert!: A key feature of the plot is that all of the doomed visitors had it coming, they all had previously been complicit in the deaths of others but escaped notice or punishment.

So it is with the cast of Atlantic Yards perpetrators. In real life they seem close to replicating what, although it was fun, seemed like a preposterously contrived plot!


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

Atlantic Yards – It’s A Crime! Events on September 26, 27, 28, 29

Brooklyn Was Promised Much More Than An Arena. As Barclays Center Opens, Series of Events Highlights Failures of Atlantic Yards and Demands for Change

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Click through for a full rundown of activities, which begin tonight with a screening of Battle for Brooklyn.


Related content...

OWSNe.ws, Atlantic Yards Crime Scene Weekend


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

An open letter to the New York Times Public Editor: when it comes to Atlantic Yards, the editor heading the Corrections desk denies reality

Atlantic Yards Report

Dear Ms. Sullivan,

On Saturday, Sept. 22, I attempted to get the New York Times to correct three clear, easily checkable errors in the upcoming Sept. 23 cover story in the Metropolitan section by Liz Robbins about the new Brooklyn arena, headlined In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays.

I wrote to, among other people, Senior Editor in charge of Corrections Greg Brock, last month lauded by your predecessor as leading a "powerful engine of accountability."

My experience with Mr. Brock, unfortunately, has gone in the exact opposite direction: a tendency to downplay, disavow, and evade errors, coupled with a reflexive nastiness that is unworthy of that position.

The upshot: the uncorrected errors led to a less skeptical view of the controversial Atlantic Yards project than the facts would suggest.

Please take a look at this verbatim correspondence, augmented only by graphics and slight punctuation changes.


NoLandGrab: Seriously. The Times's reticence at correcting Atlantic Yards-related errors is warped, and embarrassing.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, The Times' Corrections Desk, Headed by Greg Brock, Denies Reality When It Comes to Atlantic Yards

The New York Times Company, which partnered with Forest City Ratner to use eminent domain to build its new headquarters, has a problem. They are, overall, soft on their former development partner, editorially in favor of their development partner, and they have a "corrections editor" who refuses to correct clear errors of fact—errors which consistently shine a better light on the developer than the facts would and that impugn project opponents.

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

THE 30-MINUTE INTERVIEW: MaryAnne Gilmartin

The New York Times
by Vivian Marino

Synergy! The Times interviews its development partner's EVP a couple days before that development partner's new arena opens. And — of course — no interview with a Forest City Ratner or Nets executive would be complete without the obligatory "sleep? who needs sleep?" reference.

Ms. Gilmartin, 48, is executive vice president for commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner Companies, which was a development partner of The New York Times’s headquarters. Its Barclays Center arena, part of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, is to open this week.

Q. You have a husband and three children. How do you juggle work and family life?

A. And three dogs, a goldfish and a bird.

I think sleep is overrated for a working mom.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Times publishes softball interview with Forest City Ratner's Gilmartin

The New York Times, fresh from an editorial on Atlantic Yards that relied on one source, Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin--and a slam at Atlantic Yards opponent Daniel Goldstein that relied on a neighbor with violent thoughts-- today offers a 30-minute Real Estate page interview with Gilmartin.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Barclays Center Developer Bruce Ratner Talks Brooklyn, Jay-Z, And New Arena's Cultural Impact

by Ray Waddell

Not content with assaulting us with an interview with Brett Yormark, Billboard now brings us a equally fawning sit-down with Bruce Ratner.

Brooklyn has also become important in contemporary culture, and the Barclays Center will add a lot of juice to that process.
Yes. The arena is kind of the heart and soul of this tremendous culture that has, frankly, been in Brooklyn for 150 years. It's the right exact time for it. The arena will have the Nets, shows for children, boxing, cultural events, tennis, college basketball, amazing artists from Jay-Z to Barbra Streisand, from Brooklyn to all over this country. The amazing thing is we've already booked 200 of our 220 dates. This is the place to play.

Nothing says culture like Disney on Ice or Loverboy.

But it gets better.

I've seldom seen a building with a design so integrated into the community. Clearly that was important to you.
It was very important. This could have been built in a very different way. There were originally railroad tracks there, which had to be moved at a tremendous cost, and a rail yard relocated. The Garden in Manhattan makes sense-it's the right height-but in Brooklyn, it's pretty much low-rise. We made an intentional decision to move the rail yards and basically sink [the arena] so that when you enter you're on the main concourse, half the seats are above grade and half are below grade. When you live in an urban environment, you want to have beautiful surroundings-it really makes the experience that much better. We really paid attention to the architecture and we had an architectural firm in SHoP, which did an amazing job. It's got the steel on the outside, which gives a certain grittiness much like Brooklyn. The colors blend in with Brooklyn, yet it's so contemporary. It has that sleek look that says, "I'm taking off into the 21st century."



Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

Barclays Center Opens in Brooklyn with Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Jewish Voice
by Dr. Dan Miller

We celebrate Yom Kippur by celebrating The Jewish Voice's celebration of the Barclays Center, brought to us by Brooklyn's two greatest Jews.

The visions of a prominent Jewish family, a popular longtime popular borough president, a Russian billionaire and the mayor of New York City—not to mention myriads of local sports fans—came to fruition last Friday at the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the new Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn. The auspicious event was hosted by visionary real estate developer Bruce Ratner, who was joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Barclays Executive Chairman of the Americas Thomas L. Kalaris, senior executives from Forest City Enterprises including Charles Ratner, Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark, and Lt. Governor Robert Duffy.

Bruce Ratner, the Chairman and CEO of Forest Ratner Companies (FCRC) was humbled, visibly showing tears during his highly emotional speech as well as during his introductions of the dignitaries who sat on the stage. It was obvious that this new venture was a dream come true for Mr. Ratner as it was for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the leading cheerleader for Brooklyn, whose 2.6 million residents making it the fourth largest city in the United States. The project itself began almost a decade ago as an idea discussed between Ratner and Markowitz.

Sure it did. We all know that it was Stephen Witt who hatched the idea.


Posted by eric at 10:30 AM

Barclays Center residential parking permit plan nixed by state lawmakers in surrounding neighborhoods

Prospect Heights residents say not enough done to encourage arena visitors to use mass transit

NY Daily News
by Reuven Blau

Still, city officials expect 2,500 cars to flood the area for each event.

“If you live in the neighborhood obviously you are going to have concerns about security and traffic. We are going to do our very best to be good neighbors,” said developer Bruce Ratner, who noted most concerts and basketball games will last around three hours.

“It's not like you are losing your space in front of your place forever,” he added.

Sure, you can just park in another part of town, and when the concert is over at midnight, go get your car.

But a Residential Permit Parking (RPP) bill has stalled in the state Senate, blocked by lawmakers representing neighborhoods outside the proposed protected area.

Those pols, including state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Bay Ridge), are worried their constituents won't be able to find spots during concerts and basketball games at the Barclays Center and will no longer be able to park downtown before they take the train to work.


Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

September 25, 2012

Barclays Center appoints Community Affairs Manager: Terence Kelly

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner has hired a Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager: Terence Kelly, formerly Outreach Manager, Benefits Access & Social Media of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger. The announcement comes just three days before the arena opens Sept. 28.

Ashley Cotton, External Affairs VP, shared a message she sent to various stakeholders:

Arena opening is coming up fast and in anticipation of opening day I am proud to announce that Forest City Ratner Companies has hired Terence Kelly to be Barclays Center’s Community Affairs Manager.

Terence’s office will be located at Barclays Center and he will be available to the community to help with any concerns they may have.

As part of his duties at the Barclays Center, Terence will partner with community-based organizations and provide information on the arena’s upcoming events. A resident of Brooklyn, Terence is involved in a number of local community initiatives, including the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill Community Food Council and Hillstock Music Festival.

You can reach Terence at 917-618-6136 or communityaffairs@brooklynse.com. In addition, we will be setting up meetings with many of you over the coming days to introduce him to key stakeholders.

As a reminder, our Community Liaison Office will continue to operate and can be reached at (866) 923-5315 and communityliaison@atlanticyards.com.


Posted by eric at 11:04 PM

A Treat Grows in Brooklyn

NY Observer, Editorial

The Observer should've quit while it was ahead.

The new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn has become a reality after nearly a decade of discussion, debate, compromise—and hard work. The neighborhood, the borough and indeed the entire city will reap the project’s benefits for decades to come. Developer Bruce Ratner deserves congratulations for his determination and his vision, now realized.

The owner of the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, said the arena could become a milestone in Brooklyn history—like the famous bridge that bears the borough’s name. That claim might sound outlandish, but remember that the arena is part of a larger, even-more ambitious plan to redevelop Downtown Brooklyn. When the entire Atlantic Yards project is done, Mr. Prokhorov’s boast could easily become reality.

That's odd, 'cause they located the project in Prospect Heights.

The Barclays Center will get another burst of attention on Nov. 1, when the Nets play their first regular-season NBA game against the Knicks. But as the season wears on, attention will focus on the rest of Mr. Ratner’s vision. He plans to build a series of more than a dozen buildings on 22 acres surrounding the arena. Ground will soon be broken for a 32-story skyscraper that will be home to more than 350 apartments—and half of them will be reserved for tenants with low or moderate incomes.

We've been hearing the "ground will soon be broken" line for at least three years. And only a literal handful of the apartments planned for the first tower will be big enough, or cheap enough, for families earning the borough's median income.

The development will continue to create hundreds of construction jobs in the years to come, and when the project is complete, Downtown Brooklyn will have a new look and a new vibe.

That's too bad, because Ratner promised thousands of construction jobs, not hundreds, and when — or more accurately — if the project is completed, it'll still be in Prospect Heights.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Observer: A Treat Grows in Brooklyn (and forget our reporting)

Norman Oder points out that the Observer is run by a real estate magnate. Surprise, surprise.

Posted by eric at 10:51 PM

Crooked Kruger lobbyist names names for feds: Court docs

NY Post
by David Seifman and Bruce Golding

A longtime lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing crooked ex-pol Carl Kruger has been spilling his guts about “numerous other persons” under investigation by the feds, bombshell court papers revealed today.

Richard Lipsky “provided substantial assistance” related to “ongoing law-enforcement investigations” in a bid for leniency, according to the Manhattan federal court filing.

Prosecutor Glen McGorty didn’t identify any of the targets by name and redacted the details of Lipsky’s cooperation, but one political insider said the revelation would send tremors through City Hall and the Albany statehouse.

“Anyone who’s ever had any dealings with him is going to be nervous,” the insider said.

And nobody's had more dealings with Lipsky than Forest City Ratner.

Lipsky was busted by the FBI last year as part of what prosecutors called an “extensive investigation” into public corruption.

Days before his arrest, agents executing a search warrant found more than $100,000 stashed in a safe in his apartment, and another $4,000 in “crisp, large denominational bills” stuffed into a suit jacket.

During the raid, he also spoke on the phone to an unidentified “political operative” to spread the word that the feds had closed in, according to court papers.

Hmm, wonder who that could be?

Lipsky, whose clients included retailers and unions, portrayed himself as a fighter for the “little guy.”

Yes, little guys like Shorty Bruce Ratner.


Related coverage...

True News, FBI Has Kruger Lobbyist Talking - Pols Panic

Mr. Lipsky Was A Lobbyist for Bruce Ratner
Enjoy Your Tax Payer Stadium Opening Ratner

Posted by eric at 1:43 PM

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: final rounds of work at/near arena, but unclear exactly when done

Atlantic Yards Report

With the Barclays Center nearly done and having a temporary certificate of occupancy (TC), and the new subway entrance open, the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 9/24/12 but distributed a day later by Empire State Development (after preparation by Forest City Ratner), is a lot shorter than usual.

It's not clear exactly what will be done by Sept. 28, when the arena opens, since the alert refers to "this period." So there's a good bet work will continue even after the arena opens. After all, punch list work is expected to continue through 4/30/13.


Posted by eric at 1:37 PM

Mayor’s Tale of Recovery Hasn’t Been Reality for Some

The New York Times

The only Times columnist to really take a pointed look at Forest City Ratner's Culture of Cheating does so again.

New York’s leaders and titans are a wonderfully self-congratulatory lot. To listen to them and watch their posturing, you might guess that the recession was a summer thunderhead long ago blown out to sea.

There’s the ubiquitous Bruce C. Ratner, the developer who convinced New Yorkers to deeply subsidize his new luxury arena in Downtown Brooklyn without so far having produced a single apartment of the affordable housing he promised. He draws loud cheers from the artisanal-cheese-munching, Russian-oligarch-digging, Jay-Z-loving, “Please, please boost my property values” set.

There are the college presidents, of Cornell and New York University and Columbia, competitive men about town who find themselves in a gold rush as they attempt to turn the East Village, Roosevelt Island and West Harlem into dormitories with sidewalks.

And there is, of course, our mayor, a billionaire of rapidly appreciating net worth, who felt compelled to travel to Washington to lecture Democrat and Republican alike on why they need to pay closer heed to New York City, where jobs flow like vintage cabernet.

The mayor’s claims would come as a revelation to Stephanie Rosario, 20, and Woodeleine Beaujour, 19, two young women strolling down Newkirk Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on Sunday. They appeared well shielded from the bright light of our economic miracle.


NoLandGrab: Nobody loves artisanal cheese more than we do, but you don't hear us cheering.

Related overage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Michael Powell: Bruce Ratner, One of the Self-Congratulatory Plutocracy

At least there is one columnist who gets that the most important stories are not about Daniel Goldstein being harassed by a neighbor. Michael Powell, keep at it.

Posted by eric at 1:26 PM

Culture of Cheating: the highly promoted but very elusive $15 Brooklyn Nets tickets; all gone, some ticket reps have claimed misleadingly

Atlantic Yards Report

Want a cheap seat to see the all-new Brooklyn Nets, the team that completed an astonishing makeover this past July? It won't be easy.

Though single-game tickets went on sale yesterday (after a pre-sale), none of the promised 2,000 $15 seats--a prime talking point for team boosters and a real contrast with the NBA rival Knicks--were available.

The best price was $22, plus an $8 service charge. For a family of four, that would be $120, plus any additional service charge.

Still, the promise sounds good. The Daily News recently reported that "Two-thousand seats costing $15 have been set aside for sale on game day."

Actually, the amount set aside is far more fuzzy, since some seats have been sold as season tickets. Also, during the push to sell season tickets--now topping 10,000, a real jump for the team--some fans were told by ticket reps that the cheap seats were sold out.

Those tickets were seemingly off the table even before majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov opened his wallet by trading for Joe Johnson and re-signing Deron Williams (now dubbed "Brooklyn's Backcourt"), and otherwise shaking off the curse of New Jersey.

Such misleading tactics represent another example of the Culture of Cheating behind Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center.


Posted by eric at 1:21 PM

Skip the Entertainment, Groups Want Jobs and Housing from Atlantic Yards

MetroFocus [Thirteen.org]
by Georgia Kral

The Barclays Center is built. The ribbon has been cut. To open the Brooklyn arena, none other than Jay-Z (also an investor in the home-team Brooklyn Nets) is playing eight shows starting Friday night — and they’re all sold out.

While much of New York City and the region hears the cheers emanating from the offices of elected officials like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the neighborhood groups that have long questioned the Atlantic Yards development, a larger project of which the Barclays Center is just one piece, continue to cry foul.

“We want to make sure nobody forgets how this project came to be,” said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), speaking for members of his group. “In our minds, this project to date is a failure.”


Posted by eric at 1:09 PM

Creators of Atlantic Yards film, Battle for Brooklyn, Talk Opening of Barclays Center, Jay-z, Corruption, and More (Pt. 1)

Runnin' Scared
by Jason Lewis

With the opening concert at the Barclays Center slated for Friday, we caught up with Michael Galinksy and Suki Hawley, creators of the critically-acclaimed film, Battle for Brooklyn.

In a two-part interview, the Voice brings you a series of excerpts from our conversation with Michael and Suki as they gear-up for a free-screening of their movie up-the-street on from the Jay-z Concert on Friday night.

What's your response to Bruce Ratner calling the film all lies in a recent New Yorker Magazine article?

Michael: It's disconcerting that someone who has that much access to power can make a statement like that - that continues the narrative that somehow the movie is untrue. When in fact, everything in it was fact checked. We made so sure that there wasn't anything out place. So to call it all lies, or to declare that Dan Goldstein is lying, is kind of surreal really.

Suki: It's very surreal, but also from a PR perspective, it makes sense. What I find surreal is that New York Magazine just printed that without any kind of rebuttal or any chance for the writer to take a look at the film and decide for himself. Instead he referred to Ratner as a mensch for even considering Dan a formidable opponent.

Michael on what viewers can expect from the film:

Michael: People haven't seen it, and they hear this thing about it being all lies or whatever. The truth is, it is very much It's a Wonderful Life. It's more of a Frank Capra Film than a Michael Moore film. It's a movie...there's not a lot of facts, there's not a lot of figures. There's very little that could be held up, even possibly, as a lie. That's what's so disconcerting about that kind of statement being taken at face value.


NoLandGrab: Here's our offer to Bruce Ratner — we're happy to give you space on this blog to elucidate for our readers what's not true in the film. What's that? We can't hear you. Yeah, we thought so.

Posted by eric at 12:36 PM

The branded Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Bridge

Atlantic Yards Report

Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov in his remarks at the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting 9/21/12, observed, "Not everyone, in their lifetime, gets to witness a project that changes the face and the destiny of the city. Maybe those who were at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, they could say it."

Yes, those who were at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge could in fact say that.

Could the Barclays Center compare to such a epic achievement? No.

Could the arena change the face of Brooklyn? Surely. The destiny? Well, we'll see.

The Brooklyn Bridge was a triumph of technology, of connection, enabling the development of new parts of Brooklyn and linking Manhattan (then all of New York City) and Brooklyn. The Barclays Center, so far, is many things, but it is one thing the Brooklyn Bridge is not: a triumph of branding.

(Here's a list. Note that, according to the Nets, Prokhorov spoke in the Geico Atrium.)


Posted by eric at 12:25 PM

No 'Brooklyn Water' and bagels for Brooklyn Nets arena

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

A deal that would've brought Brooklyn Water and bagels to the new Barclays Center – by way of Boca Raton, Fla. – is toast.

Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company, a subsidiary of Florida-based Brooklyn Water Enterprises, had planned to open its first metro-area restaurant at the Nets’ new arena and bake on-site.

But the deal, cut this spring, fell apart a few months later after the company determined the arena's heating and ventilation system wasn’t conducive to baking their products on-site, Steven Fassberg, founder and CEO of Brooklyn Water, told the Post yesterday.

All that technology and they can't bake a bagel?

The Brooklyn Water and bagels deal was part of the arena’s glitzy campaign to make the culinary experience at Barclays Center -- as "quintessentially Brooklyn as it gets."

But arena officials were criticized by some for choosing the out-of-state bagel franchise over the Big Apple’s more than 440 bagel shops, which include at least 115 in Brooklyn, according to Yelp.com.


Related coverage...

Grub Street New York, ‘Brooklynized’ Water Bounced From New Nets Arena

Norman Oder dons his restaurant-critic disguise...

The issue isn't locavore loyalism but is instead the arena's HVAC system, which won't allow for on-site baking, thus nixing the bagel deal. That's probably why, at the arena ribbon-cutting Sept. 21, attendees were given boring old Dasani, a product of the Coca-Cola Company, an arena "legacy partner."

Signs at the arena's concession stands simply list "bottled water." It costs $4.50.

Posted by eric at 12:17 PM


by Drew Millard

Every team has a mascot. In high school, our mascot was a wolverine, and every Friday one unlucky cheerleader would hop in a costume that resembled a giant furry wolf and sweat for four hours. I remember my friend Abby ended up wearing it a fair bit. Abby has more in common with Jay-Z than she ever thought she would. Jay-Z is also a mascot, in a way, but his team is basically one really scary Russian dude, and instead of wearing an uncomfortable furry outfit he has to go in front of the New York sports media, which is much, much worse.

In August, The New York Times reported that Jay-Z owned approximately one 50th of 1 percent [NLG: actually one 15th of one percent, but what's the difference?] of the newly-relocated Brooklyn Nets. That’s more of an NBA team than you or I own, but it just barely qualifies him as an "owner." To put it into perspective, Jay invested a million dollars in the team in 2003, which is a little more than what the Nets will be paying CJ Watson—who is good at Twitter but not that great at basketball—to sit on their bench this season. Owning a sports franchise puts you firmly in the oligarch club, but Jay’s gotten a seat at the club with only a token investment.

Despite his ownership of the most hilariously small sliver of the Nets’ pizza pie, Jay-Z basically facilitated the Nets’ migration across from Jersey to Brooklyn. The idea to have a sports team in downtown Brooklyn was generated by this Romneyesque business nerd named Bruce Ratner, who (basically) wanted to clear a bunch of poor people out of the neighborhood and replace them with people with more money.


Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Video tour of the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets

When the Nets move into their new home, the Barclays Center, they'll be setting up residence in sports' most hi-tech arena. Join Nilay Patel and Amy K. Nelson for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour


That would be something like the 2,117th "exclusive" behind-the-scenes tour to date.


NoLandGrab: To paraphrase Mike Bloomberg, it doesn't matter how much technological smoke and mirrors you toss around, people are still going to remember the corrupt way that the deal got done.

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

Want To See Great Art? Go To Brooklyn's Barclays Center

by Lynn Douglas

Yes, it's a regular Metropolitan Museum of Corporate Welfare.

Brooklyn’s brand new, but rusting (on-purpose), Barclays Center is investing in a lot more than just basketball…

This week, the Center announced that three inaugural art commissions will be installed throughout the new arena—hopefully by the time the building opens for Jay-Z’s upcoming eight-night stand.

Can all this local-inspired art help to bridge the divide with those who spent years trying to block the sports arena from the heart of Brooklyn? “My guess is yes,” said [Barclays Center and Brooklyn Museum board member David] Berliner, “In terms of the arts community, people think it’s awesome.”


NoLandGrab: You're guess is wrong.

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

For The NBA's Nets, No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

MediaPost Marketing: Sports
by Barry Janoff

The song that appeared on the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut album, “Licensed to Ill,” predated by some 26 years the feeling that Bruce Ratner, Mikhail Prokhorov, Jay-Z, Brett Yormark and a bevy of others have this week as they finally see the light that is the Barclays Center at the end of a long and arduous tunnel.

No sleep, but plenty of b.s.

"My toughest challenge [has been finding] an opportunity to sleep," said Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. "I don’t sleep that much to begin with, but now there will be even less time. I say that kiddingly. But, obviously, there [has been] so much to do."


NoLandGrab: And while that headline doesn't violate the terms of the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch's will, we're guessing he wasn't a fan of Bruce Ratner's crooked land grab.

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

Bruce Ratner Likes Eating as Much as He Likes to Feed at the Public Trough

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Apparently Bruce Ratner likes to eat as much as his company likes to feed at the public trough. At least that is what appears to be the case in the NY Times' hard hitting expose and photo slideshow on the food at Barclays and what Ratner thinks of it.


Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

September 24, 2012

Weekend of Events Spotlight Unfulfilled Promises at Arena

Civic News
by David Herman

With the Barclays Center arena ready to open on Sept. 28, a wide range of community groups have organized “It’s a Crime” weekend, a series of events that will draw attention to promises far from fulfilled on the surrounding Atlantic Yards megaproject.

Rather than protest the arena itself, the multiple events that kick off on Thurs., Sept. 27, will highlight what New York State, New York City, and developer Forest City Ratner Companies promised to the people of Brooklyn, and address what has to be done now to ensure critically needed jobs, affordable housing, and other public benefits are delivered.

Events for the “It’s a Crime” weekend include:

  • Thurs., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.: a candlelight vigil with Brooklyn clergy, elected officials, and community organizations to remember people and families displaced by the Atlantic Yards project’s use of eminent domain, as well as recognize those at risk of displacement today. Gathering point will be close to the arena entrance, at Pacific Bears Community Garden, corner of Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street. Click here for more information on exact meeting location.
  • Fri., Sept. 28 (arena opening day): 11 a.m., press conference at Barclays Center, in front of the Pacific Bears Community Garden; 12- 4 p.m., popup actions all around Barclays Center; 5 p.m., a virtual rally (tweet #BarclaysCenter and @AYCrimeScene for housing and jobs now); 8 p.m., free outdoor screening of the documentary Battle For Brooklyn at the Dean Playground Ball Field, just half a block from the arena (Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenues)
  • Sat., Sept. 29: 6-8 p.m., opening reception for photographer Tracy Collins’ exhibit, “Atlantic Yards: Deconstructed,” at the Soapbox Gallery, 636 Dean St. The exhibit traces the “on the ground” impacts of the development over the past nine years through photography, video, and other media.

For more information on these and other activities, head to the AY Crime Scene website.


Posted by eric at 8:46 PM

Ambulance Hastens Carlton Avenue Bridge Reopening

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

The long-awaited reopening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge took place Monday morning just in time: not only for the Jay-Z concert at the nearby Barclays Center on Sept. 28, but also for an ambulance en route to the hospital.

As construction workers and officials from Forest City Ratner were holding a small ceremony at the site before officially opening the street, an ambulance drove up, said Pacific Street resident and neighborhood activist N. Wayne Bailey, who had come to the bridge to mark the occasion.

After a moment's hesitation, officials allowed the ambulance pass through, making it the first vehicle to cross the bridge since it closed in 2008 to facilitate construction on the Atlantic Yards' Barclays Center.


NoLandGrab: Wonder how many Brooklynites in need of emergency response were not so lucky in the nearly five years that it took Forest City Ratner to rebuild the bridge.

Posted by eric at 8:39 PM

Will Barclays Center wreck surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods?

Crain's NY Business

The arena at the centerpiece of the Atlantic Yards project opens Friday with a series of Jay-Z concerts, and more superstar performers and the Brooklyn Nets will arrive in the coming weeks. Since the Barclays Center was proposed in 2003, critics have been predicting that traffic, noise and drinking by patrons will destroy the quality of life nearby. Supporters say people will quickly realize that it’s easier to take mass transit than to drive and find parking, and that drinkers will have no reason to wander through the neighborhoods.

Will Barclays Center bring chaos to Brooklyn?

Take the poll.

Posted by eric at 8:29 PM

Forefront Excerpt: City on a Hill

Next American City
by Daniel Brook

Be afraid, Seattle, be very afraid.

On July 17, inside the council chamber with its swooping walls of blonde wood and brushed steel, council members were weighing far-reaching changes to one of progressive Seattle’s proudest accomplishments: The New Deal-era Yesler Terrace development, America’s first racially integrated housing project. Stroking their chins, looking overeducated and skeptical, council members pondered whether the Seattle Housing Authority’s ambitious plan to transform the low-rise, low-income public housing project into a high-rise, mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood truly reached levels of perfection worthy of Seattle.

Occupying some of the most potentially valuable land in the city, Yesler Terrace is within walking distance of City Hall itself. But just as the steep hill dividing the two sites renders the walk more arduous than it looks on the map, the social distance between the well-to-do white council members and the immigrants of color who constitute most of the project’s tenants may be even larger. For all the meticulous concern over the design of the redevelopment, there is a sense among Yesler residents and many area neighbors that the council is missing the forest for the trees. Critics see council as quite possibly well meaning but hopelessly out of touch, so concerned about the aesthetics and environmental impact of the project, they have lost sight of its social impact — and of safeguarding the public trust itself. In the Seattle Housing Authority’s plans, the 561 units of extremely low-income housing at Yesler Terrace will be rebuilt and more than 1,000 units of low- to medium-income “workforce housing” will be added. But the bulk of the development will be devoted to as many as 3,100 market-rate units.

The short list of real estate developers eager to get in on the deal is hardly allaying fears. Recent planning meetings have been attended by representatives of the man who owns Seattle, Microsoft co-founder-turned-real estate magnate Paul Allen, and Forest City Ratner, the famed antagonist in the most contentious community/developer fight of the last decade, the Atlantic Yards’ Battle of Brooklyn. That fight pitted Forest City — a company known for building publicly subsidized developments — against community advocates who said its multibillion plan for a basketball stadium surrounded by a new mixed-income neighborhood of high-rise towers would displace lower-income people.


NoLandGrab: Paging Scott Turner.

Posted by eric at 8:14 PM

Ratner and Prokhorov's Arena is Built for a Bank, Not Brooklyn

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Some of the press gets it. Barclays Center was built for a bank, a scandal ridden one at that, and one which Mark Jacobson describes thusly in his excellent NY Mag cover story, "The Nets are owned by a Russian oligarch and will play in an arena named for a bank (which reportedly paid $200 million for the naming rights) whose senior officials in France voluntarily handed over names of its Jewish employees to the ­Nazis, a hedge just in case the Germans won the war. Oh, yeah, let's go bang a thunderstick for them."


NoLandGrab: Yay, team?

Posted by eric at 8:02 PM

Nets Store Opens at Barclays Center

Enthusiastic fans line up for opening of team's new retail location.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

The Nets Shop by Adidas opened early Monday to lines of eager basketball fans looking to get the first peek at jerseys, basketballs, sneakers and other apparel emblazoned with the team's black and white logo.

Outside the store, Bed-Stuy resident Winston Gladstone proudly displayed his haul: A $30 basketball signed by Brooklyn Nets player Brook Lopez and a $32 tank top for his 18-year-old daughter.

"I think I made out pretty well," Gladstone said.


NoLandGrab: No, chief, no you didn't. But Bruce Ratner, the Russian Oligarch and the owner of the Chinese factory who manufactured your swag did just fine.

Posted by eric at 7:56 PM

Times jumps on year-old story: Goldstein's the heavy because of legal home renovation (and what about violations of construction protocols in building arena?)

Atlantic Yards Report

As we were saying...

Norman Oder's take is worth republishing in full.

Almost a year ago, the Daily News published a tabloid-y article equating Atlantic Yards foe Daniel Goldstein's as-of-right home expansion project, which angered his immediate neighbors, with Goldstein's opposition to the mega-development that used eminent domain, public subsidies, and other governmental help.

Gothamist and the Observer were more sober in their follow-ups, the former getting Goldstein's neighbor-to-be to admit she said she hoped his house burned down.

Today, as if payback for the more-skeptical-than-previous (but still too gentle) Sunday article on Atlantic Yards, the New York Times publishes another version of the story, headlined For an Old Foe of Atlantic Yards, a Smaller-Scale Battle, portraying Goldstein as the heavy.

The comments so far either suggest Goldstein is a hypocritical NIMBY or, as one wrote:

Just because Ratner built the Times' new HQ, does that mean it needs to do his dirty work and trash his enemies for no obvious reason?

It strikes me as a dubious use of Times resources--but perhaps a path of least resistance--to focus on this story rather than the more important story of repeated, blatant, documented violations (with no penalties and little enforcement) of construction protocols and truck rules regarding the construction of the Barclays Center.

Fun with photo angles

From the article posted today/Robert Stolarik for NY Times

It also strikes me as a rather irresponsible decision to choose a photo shot from the perspective of someone's foot; that skews our view of the addition. 

By contrast, the Times regularly publishes architectural renderings that provide an unrealistic "hovercraft" or "helicopter" view--it's done so more than once regarding Atlantic Yards.

NY Times 9/28/10


Posted by eric at 7:28 PM

The Carlton Avenue Bridge has reopened, four days before arena opens

Atlantic Yards Report

Right on schedule 1,000 days late!

This is way, way beyond the original announced schedule of two years, but it does avert a traffic nightmare as of this Friday, Sept. 28, when the Barclays Center opens. The bridge is a key artery for drivers on Carlton Avenue, which borders the interim surface parking lot.


Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 6:36 PM

Culture of Cheating: the hollowness of the Atlantic Yards CBA, as chair (and lead speaker of events) runs organization that does nothing about construction impacts (despite obligations)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), more than seven years in, may be a "work in progress," as CBA Coalition Chair Delia Hunley-Adossa acknowledged at the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting event Sept. 21, but she pointed to recent results, such as helping get locals hired for the arena and beginning the process of distributing free arena tickets.

Still, it was a glaring irony that Hunley-Adossa spoke at this event, given that her organization, the obliquely named Brooklyn Endeavor Experience, is supposed to address environmental issues regarding project construction, and has done precisely nothing in the face of repeated, glaring, documented (photos, video) violations of construction protocols.

In other words, the document, which on paper is supposed to provide community safeguards, instead was turned into a vehicle to generate community support, with Hunley-Adossa, who distinguished herself MCing project rallies, the most obvious exemplar. It's another example of the Culture of Cheating.

I had written that the CBA gives BEE nothing to do, stating, "Therefore, the Developer shall be in compliance with this Agreement by following the state mandated [environmental] process."

That's not quite true since BEE's precursor, the CBA signatory, was to establish a "Committee on Environmental Assurance to address short- and long-term environmental issues that may affect the surrounding community," as noted by a consultant's recent report on the numerous failures to safeguard the community.

That committee has never been announced. Nor has the promised Independent Compliance Monitor to oversee CBA implementation been hired. Nor has BEE done anything about project impacts (though it apparently has run The Basketball, Reading Literacy and Health Program). Hunley-Adossa has no listed qualifications to run an organization concerned with the environment.


Posted by eric at 4:22 PM

9/26, 7pm: 2 Days Before Barclays Center Opens, "Battle for Brooklyn" Screens in Park Slope

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

From the Park Slope Patch:

Filmwax presents BROOKLYN RECONSTRUCTED: Battle For Brooklyn

Wednesday, September 26, 2012, 7:00 pm

The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
53 Prospect Park W, Brooklyn, NY | Get Directions »
$5.00 suggested donation

With the Barclays Center set to open on 2 days later on September 28th, Filmwax's screening of BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN is all the more poignant. The Filmwax series, BROOKLYN RECONSTRUCTED, continues with its 4th screening of this very important documentary.


Posted by eric at 4:12 PM

Operating engineers again protesting outside the Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

They brought about two dozen people for an informational protest--not a picket line--for the Sept. 21 Barclays Center ribbon-cutting, but this morning brought what seemed to be a few dozen more. About 20 jobs are at stake.


NoLandGrab: Where's the giant inflatable Ratner?

Photo: AYInfoNyc

Posted by eric at 3:23 PM

The Barclays Center: Open for Business

WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show

The ribbon was cut last Friday on the Barclay's arena in Brooklyn. Charles Bagli, New York Times reporter, looks at what it means for the economy, the neighborhood and the borough.


Posted by eric at 3:13 PM

Up Close: Atlantic Yards Project


Tish James and DDDB's Candace Carponter offer a little reality to offset Marty Marowitz's fantasy version of Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, In rebuttal to Markowitz, CM James and DDDB's Carponter appear on Channel 7

Would you ever set foot into that arena, asked Williams.

James said, "I was invited [to the opening], and I respectfully declined. I want to hold true to my principles." She then segued into campaign mode, saying she wanted to "make sure we can address the poverty we continue to see in the city of New York and provide jobs..." I suspect she may have to leave herself an out to visit the building.

"I'll never go there," Carponter said. "And it's heartbreaking to me, I understand its important to a lot of people in Brooklyn. For me, what's more important... to allow the project to go forward the way it's designed at this point is just wrong... What we hope is they allow more developers to come in... so whatever gets built gets built a little more organically, a little less high rise, more open space... certainly lots more affordable housing."

Of course there's a tension there too, because Forest City Ratner argues that only by building big can they build the subsidized housing.

Posted by eric at 3:07 PM

Markowitz has his (wrong) mantra: Atlantic Yards area "not a bedroom community" (and project will be a "masterpiece of urban planning")

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz sure has chutzpah. His latest mantra, repreated in at least three interviews, is that those living near the Barclays Center arena, or displaced, should not be complaining. In the 9/21/12 Crain's New York Business, he declared:

"Time will soothe ruffled feathers," he said. "I do not believe this is a bedroom community."

In the comments, Dean Street resident Tracy Collins replied, with links:

Literally right across Dean Street and 6th Avenue from the arena are many actual bedrooms.

What Markowitz ignores is that the state overrode city zoning barring sports facilities from within 200 feet of residential districts.

Click through for more analysis of Markowitz's rantings to New York Magazine and WABC's Diana Williams.


Posted by eric at 2:52 PM

Up Close: The Barclays Center

by Diana Williams

Boondoggle apologist Marty Markowitz shovels a huge heap of nonsense about the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards.

The new arena in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center, is finally open for business.

But what about the rest of the Atlantic Yards project, and the thousands of jobs and affordable housing promised by Mayor Bloomberg and the developer, Forest City Ratner?

Joining us this week is someone who is a believer in the Atlantic Yards project, and who took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

We will also hear opposing views on the project from New York City Councilwoman Letitia James and Candace Carponter of the group 'Develop, Don't Destroy'.


Posted by eric at 2:40 PM


What does the Brooklyn of the new Barclays Center have to do with the Brooklyns that came before it? A native son walks among the ghosts.

New York Magazine
by Mark Jacobson

This week’s big Brooklyn branding moment is the opening of 18,200-seat Barclays Center, which will begin its run with over a week of performances by the Marcy projects’ favorite son, Jay-Z. There was some New-Old Brooklyn symmetry to that. In the early nineties, not counting the Pepper and Potter car dealership (“Picky People Pick Pepper and Potter”) and the Dime Savings Bank sign on which the E was always burned out, the first thing the Brooklyn traveler saw upon exiting the Manhattan Bridge was a billboard for Kool G Rap’s current knowledge drop, Live and Let Die. The poster featured a pair of men hanging by the neck as other thugs in ski masks fed what looked like slices of pizza to Rottweilers—like, welcome to the BK, baby!

This was when Jay-Z was still Shawn Carter, going to school on Kool G Rap’s multisyllabic rhyming technique. Amazing how far a brother can go in this land of milk and honey if he manages not to get shot or put in jail. The synergetic J not only “inspired” the ambience of Barclays Center’s premier luxury suites, the Vault ($550,000 per year apiece, with a three-year minimum purchase), but he is also credited with helping design the stark black-and-white branding logo for the arena’s lead tenant, the Brooklyn Nets.

“Jay-Z’s design is the Brooklyn Brand!” declared Marty Markowitz, the blustery borough president, whose main claim to fame may be that any Brooklyn comic, living or dead, can “do” him in their sleep. Jay-Z’s logo was “the absolute distillation of the borough’s ability to charm you off your feet and be in your face at the same time,” Markowitz proclaimed. “Simple, classy, and tough, with a big B in the middle. It says: Brooklyn! Everyone understands that.”

Well, maybe not everyone. By the thrum of the BQE, a member of the Satmar Hasidic sect peered up at a large billboard done up in the Jay-Z design featuring a picture of Joe Johnson, the Nets’ recently acquired shooting guard. “Hello Brooklyn,” the ad said. “I’m No. 7, Joe Johnson … six-time NBA all-star and lifelong Razorback.”

“Vat is this razorback?” asked the Satmar, furry shtreimel on his head in the August heat. Given the answer, he said, “Trayf from Arkansas, this is basketball, this is Brooklyn?”


Posted by eric at 2:29 PM

Nets arena opening, Brooklyn braces for arenapocalypse

Field of Schemes
by Neil deMause

The Barclays Center is a bit of an anomaly among recent “downtown” sports facilities: Rather than being built in an underdeveloped area with the hopes that it will kick-start development (or on the fringes of a slowly developing area with the hopes that it will capitalize on interest there), the Nets arena is jammed into a crease between three boiling-hot Brooklyn neighborhoods: Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Fort Greene. It’s one reason why so many residents are worried about what the nightly influx of 18,000 ticket buyers (and nightly outflux of the same, likely many of whom will have partaken of the arena’s champagne bars and beer taps) will mean for the surrounding blocks. Already, rents and sale prices of land near the arena are way up, reports the Times, and the state liquor board has granted about 40 new liquor licenses to businesses near the arena over the past year. (The promised housing that was to accompany the arena has yet to arrive, though given that most of the “affordable” units wouldn’t actually be that affordable anyway, it’s hard to say how much of a loss this is.)

Whether the flood of new thirsty patrons materializes, and whether they end up taking people’s parking spaces and puking all over their brownstone stoops as some fear, remains to be seen: A busy arena like Barclays certainly can have more impact than, say, a 10-games-a-year football stadium, but as sports economist Brad Humphreys predicted to me earlier this year, “A lot of existing bar and restaurant owners in the area are going to be unhappy when they actually lose business,” thanks to all the spending opportunities inside a modern arena.


Posted by eric at 2:24 PM

For Former Opponent of Atlantic Yards, a Smaller-Scale Battle

The New York Times
by Elizabeth A. Harris

Perhaps needing to make up with its development partner for a reasonably reported — and therefore damning — story on the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting, The Times discovers a year after everyone else that Daniel Goldstein bought a new home.

Since last year, however, Mr. Goldstein has been at the nexus of some far more localized real estate tension. He has been building an extension on the back of his new home in South Park Slope, and from the very start, relations with both of his next-door neighbors have been bumpy.

It began in the backyard, when one neighbor, Kathryn Roake, saw Mr. Goldstein’s architect through the fence and was told the plans. According to Mr. Goldstein, the conversation concluded with Ms. Roake saying she hoped that his house burned down.

Not everyone is a sociopath, though.

Many people on the block have no problem with Mr. Goldstein’s extension. Nancy Carpenter, who, along with her husband, bought Ms. Frost’s home, said she was excited for the new neighbors to move in. Ms. Carpenter fears, however, that the Barclays Center will overwhelm its neighborhood, and she called Mr. Goldstein’s campaigning against the project “honorable.”


Posted by eric at 2:13 PM

The Barclays Center: Built for a Bank, Not for Brooklyn or the Nets

NY Observer
by Kit Dillon

The Observer doesn't buy the hype.

Welcome to the grand opening of the Barlcays Center—through the Calvin Klein VIP entrance, past the American Express box office and into the Geico atrium—the sometimes home of the Brooklyn Nets. Because in truth, this is the bank’s home and everybody else are its guests. Today it is the press corps’ turn, and we have been welcomed in the grandest of style. Fresh orange juice, hot quiche and chocolate-covered strawberries abound, though none of the twee Brooklyn food that will soon be sold at the very Brooklyn concession stands.

As one reporter mentioned to another, “Remember the good ol’ days?” Would that be when Brooklyn had a team or when journalists could afford their own meals, or even a few sweet years ago, when this was still a hole in the ground, neighbor fought neighbor and the banks were booming?

But it was Charles Ratner, the chairman of Cleveland’s own Forest City Enterprises and cousin of the man behind the Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner, who thanked Barclays most openly for being so steadfast a partner even in these difficult economic times. “Can’t say enough about Barclays bank,” he crowed. One can only imagine that it is easier to remain steadfast in troubling economic times when you’re helping to manipulate international interest rates.

Singlehandedly bringing hope back to Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner declared, “Championships will be won here!” He does know which team he bought, right?


NoLandGrab: Let them eat [a Barclays Center] cake!

Photo: Kit Dillon/NY Observer

Posted by eric at 1:54 PM

Yet One More Bald-Faced Lie From Bruce Ratner

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The NY Times' article, "In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays" has an accompanying slideshow, which includes a photo of Bruce Ratner in his arena with this caption:

Bruce C. Ratner, the chairman and chief executive of Forest City Ratner Companies, which built the New York Times' Midtown headquarters, is proud of the arena. "We have changed the landscape, we will have created a beautiful work of art, and created a place for entertainment and sports that will be wonderful for generations," he said. "Our biggest critics complained that the arena wasn't built. Now that the arena is done, they switched to something else."

Mr. Ratner must think we are all idiots, because that is an absurd, bald-faced lie.

Our biggest complaint is that his project is a corrupt land grab. And the fact that many community organizations (not including the ones that partnered with Ratner in the bogus Community Benefits Agreement) are attempting to hold him accountable for the broken promises of 10,000 permanent jobs and 2,250 affordable housing units.

We can assure Bruce that one complaint he's never heard from us is that the arena wasn't built. Quite the opposite.


NoLandGrab: "The delirious Bruce Ratner."

Posted by eric at 1:44 PM

Clarification From MTA: Despite Furnishing Assets, Subsidy And Subway Station Renaming Transportation Agency Disavows Promotion of Barclays Bank

Noticing New York

[MTA spokesman Aaron] Donovan furnished me with this MTA disavowal of the ongoing media-saturating promotion of Barclays Bank resulting from the MTA’s furnishing of is resources:

The MTA does not endorse the viewpoints expressed in any of the advertisements posted in the system. That applies to issue-oriented advertisements such as the one you mentioned, and it applies to advertisements that propose commercial transactions.

So the promotion of the LIBOR scandalous bank is not endorsed by the MTA, even though the huge amount of promotion the bank is getting is greatly facilitated by the substantial assets the MTA furnished, some would say carelessly, for this purpose.

What I didn’t realize was that at almost the very moment that I was exchanging my communications with Mr. Donovan concerning the MTA’s disavowal of the promotion, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota was arriving that the “Barclays” Center ribbon-cutting event....


Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Stephen Witt lets us in on some spoilers from his new novel


Brooklyn Daily
by Will Bredderman

Here's a new take on the Atlantic Yards creation myth, courtesy of the man who never let reality get in the way of his "reporting" on Atlantic Yards.

Former Courier Life reporter and longtime busker Stephen Witt says he is responsible for bringing the Nets to Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean his second novel, “The Street Singer,” the tale of a subway performer who gets an arena built in his home town, is the story of his life . How do we know? Because reporter Will Bredderman had a chat with him about his new tome. Here’s how it went down:

Will Bredderman: So how did you get the Nets to come to Brooklyn?

Stephen Witt: I covered Borough President Markowitz’s first state of the borough address, and he talked about getting a basketball team to move to Brooklyn. So I took it upon myself to call the NBA to see if the Knicks had an exclusive on Brooklyn. I asked if there could be a new team in Brooklyn and the NBA said no, there could only be a move. But at that time, the Nets were in the finals, and they weren’t filling their stadium, so I called the Nets owner, Lewis Katz, and I asked if he’d be willing to move the team. He said he wasn’t against it, so I called Marty and I said, “Call this guy, I think he’ll move the team.” And I gave Marty the guy’s number. Marty gave me a call in February of 2003 and told me “I really think I hooked a big fish.” I wrote an article for the Village Voice about it, and that’s how it all got started. A couple months later they made the big announcement.


NoLandGrab: Norman Oder might have to start referring to him as the "delirious Stephen Witt."

Posted by eric at 1:19 PM

Brooklyn Paper/Courier-Life publish special section: "Brooklyn welcomes its new arena"

Atlantic Yards Report

Both the Brooklyn Paper and its sibling Courier Life/Brooklyn Daily, both owned by Rupert Murdoch's Community Newspaper Group, offer a 24-page special section saluting the Barclays Center.

(I believe it's also in Murdoch's New York Post.)

Yes, there's a big ad from the arena, as well as from local businesses. Yes, there's a big ad from the arena in the regular issue of the weeklies, as well.

So it's not surprising that the content is celebratory.


Could you believe that the Brooklyn Paper published a 1/24/04 editorial by its founder, Ed Weintrob, headlined The real story is the land grab, not the Nets:

That the Nets are coming is beside the point. And that is the real story, a story masterfully buried by developer Bruce Ratner and his media shills. (When the New York Times is your real estate partner, it’s amazing the story its pages will tell — more than three pages featuring nine upbeat, luciously illustrated stories in Thursday’s edition.) The real story is that the Atlantic Yards project — and its companion Downtown Brooklyn Plan — is not about the Nets (whose stadium would occupy a tiny part of the massive site), it’s about a land grab by Ratner and his political clients, the largest, most expensive government seizure of private property for private benefit ever in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Paper was sold in 2009.


Related coverage...

Noticing New York, Isn’t That Cute?: Cover of Brooklyn Paper Special Section Fawning Over Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” Arena Feints At Mention of LIBOR Scandal

The cover of a “special 24-page section” the Rupert Murdoch-owned Brooklyn Paper issued today to fawn appreciatively over the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” basketball arena feints at mention of, and almost seems to refer to, the LIBOR interest rate-fixing scandal for which the Barclays Bank name is a virtual synonym.- And then it actually doesn’t- Just the reverse in fact.

The plastered headline “Banking on Barclays” punningly/cunningly (?) evokes the presumed reliability of the banking practices behind the “Barclays” name. It does that notwithstanding that most people who actually read real news should think of LIBOR instead.

But, in truth, the Brooklyn Paper is probably not thinking in this vein: The Brooklyn Paper has never devoted one jot of ink, or even a few electrons of its web edition articles, to spelling out the acronym LIBOR and that includes the nine new feature articles inside the “special section” all of which mention “Barclays” repeatedly. . .

. . . One of them is appallingly titled: “The People’s Arena!”

Atlantic Yards Report, The "Barclays countdown" in this week's issues of Metro

Let's take a look at this week's installments of the "Barclays countdown" in the free weekly Metro. Is it just a coincidence that editorial content is coupled with copious Barclays Center advertising?

Posted by eric at 1:06 PM

Park Slope, Prospect Heights Precinct Reshuffle Set For Sept. 25

Boundary changes meant to streamline policing at Barclays Center.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Paul Leonard

It's hard to miss most of the happenings in and around the just opened Barclays Center.

However, at least one change will be much harder for most people to detect.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25 at midnight, Park Slope's 78th Precinct will formally take over policing at the 18,000-seat arena in a rare shift that city officials said was necessary to keep visitors and residents safe.

The new borders puts Park Slope's 78th Precinct in charge of the entire Atlantic Yards development area and also gives it jurisdiction over over the area between Vanderbilt Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, from Hanson Place in Fort Greene, all the way to (and including) Plaza Street East. The 77th Precinct's border will begin with the East side of Vanderbilt Avenue. In Fort Greene, it will also cover the Atlantic Center.


Posted by eric at 1:02 PM

Barclays Center oculus: now featuring McDonald's advertising

Atlantic Yards Report


A lot of people think the Barclays Center oculus is innovative and cool--that's their judgment. But views may vary depending on what people see. This morning it's a delivery device for McDonald's advertising.


Posted by eric at 12:55 PM

NetsDaily Off-Season Report #22


NetsDaily's Bob Windrem, aka "NetIncome," loves the team's new home so much, and has such a crush on Mikhail Prokhorov, that he's forgiven Bruce Ratner for destroying what had been a title-contender before he took over.

And besides, it was the opponents' fault...

Bruce Ratner was not a good NBA owner, although one could forgive if not forget some of what he did because of the extenuating, and unique, circumstances of his ownership: the litigation that prevented him from moving the team earlier...the original plan was for the Frank Gehry-designed arena to open up in 2006; the mounting debt which was three times what the Hornet ownership walked away from; then the Great Recession.

But sitting in the audience at Friday's ribbon-cutting, we thought if this is the result --the team playing in what is arguably the most modern, most expensive arena in the NBA; with Mikhail Prokhorov as its principal owner and a roster that on paper is the franchise's best 1-through-15 maybe ever--maybe he wasn't so far after all.


Posted by eric at 12:44 PM

Atlantic Yards Developer to Break Ground on First Residential Tower

The 32-floor apartment building next to the Barclays Center will be the first of 16 towers slated for the 22-acre development.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark and Paul Leonard

At Friday’s ribbon cutting for the Barclays Center, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner announced the groundbreaking on the site’s first residential tower, reminding the public that the Nets arena is just a small part of the much contested 22-acre project.

"Today is only one part of our larger Atlantic Yards vision. There is more to come,” he said, naming Dec. 18 as the date construction begins on the first of 16 planned apartment towers.

Groundbreaking on the first non-arena building has, of course, been "announced" about 10 different times over the past three years — it's always "any day now."

Forest City Ratner has not yet decided whether the building will be built using traditional construction methods, or be made of modular units, which will be created in a factory and assembled on site. There has been some debate over whether a prefab building will look as good as a traditionally built one.

If the prefab route is taken, Atlantic Yards would host the tallest modular building ever made.


Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays

The New York Times
by Liz Robbins

They talk about it as if it were a force of nature.

“We’re bracing ourselves, almost like hurricane preparedness, where you go out and tape the windows and buy the candles and you are not sure if it’s going to come — and if it does, if it’s ever going to get back to normal,” said Susan Doban, an architect who lives with her family on Bergen Street in Park Slope.

“It’s like a volcano,” said Lenny Goodstein, taking a break from renovating his brownstone in Prospect Heights. “We don’t know where the lava is going to land.”

For some, the uncertainty is almost apocalyptic. “It’s the end of the community as we know it,” said Michelle de la Uz, the director of a nonprofit housing organization in Brooklyn, “and the beginning of something new. What that ‘new’ is, we don’t yet understand.”

On Friday, the Barclays Center arena, wedged into the borough’s busiest intersection like a giant, rusty bread basket, will open after nine years of operatic disputation and delays: community lawsuits over New York State’s ability to seize private land and over the developer’s obligations; the collapse of the real estate market; the replacement of a star architect; the rescue from a Russian oligarch; racial friction; rats; traffic; and unfulfilled promises.

Into this den of contention move the Brooklyn Nets, a professional basketball team (with its own pockmarked past) that once again gives the borough a reason to cheer.

Amid the festivities, though, the arena stands as an island, a reminder of what is missing. The 16 surrounding towers — primarily residential — that were originally planned by the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, for the 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project have yet to be built. The 10,000 or so jobs promised have not materialized. Of the 2,250 affordable housing units pledged out of 6,300, only 181 are planned for a first tower, and ground for the building has yet to be broken.


Photo: Victor J. Blue/The New York Times

Related coverage...

The New York Times, Ready or Not

Prospect Heights Patch, Barclays Center Opens With Pride and Protests

NY Daily News, Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center opens for business with a ribbon-cutting ceremony

Crain's NY Business, Mayor: With Barclays, Brooklyn has 'arrived'

NoLandGrab: Huh? Sure, Mike, Brooklyn didn't earn the "tres" label until we got this rusty hunk of boondoggle.

NY Daily News, Brooklyn Nets finally feel at home as Bruce Ratner cuts ribbon and Mikhail Prokhorov basks in opening of Barclays Center

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com], Musings on the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting ceremony, inside and out

Grantland, Brooklyn's Barclays Center Opens for Business (and Basketball)

Architizer, It Really Got Built! A Grand Opening For Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

Can't Stop The Bleeding, Monument To Bruce Ratner’s Avarice & Greed, Stil Not Universally Embraced

Gideon's Trumpet, The Atlantic Yards Redevelopment — An Arena for the Nets But Not Much for Anybody Else

The Atlantic Yards redevelopment project thus bids fair to join the list of other manifestly private projects that were poorly disguised as “public uses” for which private land was taken by eminent domain, only to fail either altogether or by producing something different than what the cities and the redeveloper-clients promised the voters and sold to judges.

Reason Hit & Run, Reason TV Replay: Billionaires vs. Brooklyn's Best Bar: Eminent Domain Abuse & The Atlantic Yards Project

After nine years, numerous lawsuits, and one egregious case of eminent domain abuse, Brooklyn's Barclays Center officially opened on Friday. Two years ago Reason TV covered the neighborhood's fight against the stadium and talked with the owners of Freddy's bar about their efforts to save their business.

amNewYork, Barclays center expected to have huge opening despite polarizing boro

New York Amsterdam News, An arena's grown in Brooklyn

Gib Veconi, treasurer of the Prospect Heights Development Council, spoke with the AmNews after the protesters held a news conference of their own. He had something to say to those who file Ratner's baby under the label of capitalism.

"It's not capitalism when the public money is being spent," said Veconi. "Capitalism is using my money to build something. Not using your money. The public put $300 million of direct aid into this project...Not only that, but the value of the tax-exempt bonds, the value of the zoning overrides, the value of the other tax breaks that the project has received, it runs into billions of dollars." Veconi said that money could've been better used to help with job creation or housing.

"The people have a right to be outraged," Veconi said.

The Brooklyn Paper, It’s open! Ceremonial ribbon-cutting marks Barclays Center debut

“Brooklyn has arrived,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a great day.”

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

Hoopla in the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn

The New York Times, Editorial

With an official ribbon-cutting on Friday, Brooklyn celebrated the opening of a lavish sports and entertainment center featuring the Brooklyn Nets (formerly of New Jersey). This is generally good news for the borough and the city. It elevates what had been an underdeveloped area into a vibrant hub for basketball fans, shoppers and followers of such superstars as Jay-Z, who owns a club in the complex. For an older generation, the arrival of a major-league sports team may help fill the emptiness left by the departure of the Dodgers for Los Angeles in 1957.

Amid all the razzle-dazzle, however, it is worth reminding residents as well as the Barclays Center developer of promises made nine years ago. Forest City Ratner Companies, which is building the $4.9 billion project, originally sold the city on the arena plan because it would provide at least 2,250 affordable apartments, 8 acres of open space in the 22-acre project and 10,000 jobs.

Company officials said this week that they would, at some point, make good on those promises. The recession and numerous lawsuits from opponents have slowed down their progress, according to MaryAnne Gilmartin, an executive vice president of the company.

On Friday, Bruce Ratner, chairman of the development company, announced that he would break ground on the first of 14 residential buildings in December. The first building is supposed to offer 181 units of affordable rental apartments, which leaves more than 2,000 affordable units to be finished by 2031.

In some ways, it feels as though the developers got their dessert first — the splendid arena that will draw crowds and superstars starting on Friday night. Now for the meat and potatoes.


Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

September 23, 2012

The Times takes a balanced-ish look at "Hurricane Barclays," but still significant omissions (like construction violations, Ratner on timetable)

Atlantic Yards Report

Given the general press cheerleading for the Barclays Center, as well as the New York Times's pattern, in news coverage, of leaning toward the developer's narrative, it's somewhat refreshing to see a more balanced article on the front of the Metropolitan section today, headlined In Brooklyn, Bracing for Hurricane Barclays.

In fact, the article implicitly (and belatedly) demolishes the dangerously fanciful formulation that the Times peddled in the fall of 2005, that "the project's seemingly inexorable movement suggests that Mr. [Bruce] Ratner is creating a new and finely detailed modern blueprint for how to nourish - and then harvest - public and community backing for a hugely ambitious development."

Today's piece even includes the now-infrequent disclosure that Forest City Ratner "built The New York Times’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan."

At the same time, even this 2,700-word article can't capture some of the nuances in the controversy, and there are both gaps and errors that obscure what I call the Culture of Cheating.

One small but important one: the Barclays Center arena is portrayed as occupying the triangle serving as its plaza. Actually, the arena occupies most of the space between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue (see schematic at top of blog). This isn't the first time the Times has gotten the map wrong.

Omissions worth noting:

  • no mention of the repeated construction and traffic violations documented on camera by Atlantic Yards Watch and a consultant's report (and papered over by Ratner)
  • no explanation of how the state agreed to give Forest City Ratner 25 years to build the project, rather than the promised ten, how the state held back official documents in a lawsuit (it and FCR eventually lost) over the timetable, and how Ratner claimed ten years “was never supposed to be the time we were supposed to build them in”
  • no mention of the community request for a "Neighborhood Protection Plan" modeled on the Wrigley Field example
  • no mention that the state overrode city zoning prohibiting sports facilities within 200 feet of residential districts


NoLandGrab: The New York Times article could be called pretty good coverage of the Atlantic Yards project -- if it had been done when it might have made a difference as to whether a new Nets arena would be built.

Posted by steve at 10:39 PM

September 22, 2012

The Barclays Center ribbon-cutting: big win for Ratner, as media focus on impressive building, not broken promises

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center ribbon-cutting event yesterday, with self-congratulatory speeches by developer Bruce Ratner, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and allies, was a big win for Ratner, especially as most media outlets treated it as a story about an impressive new building and about sports, disregarding or downplaying the protests and choosing not to examine the larger Atlantic Yards promise of "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops" (much less the Culture of Cheating).

The dailies, for example sent mostly sports reporters and columnists, so no one played up the rather small turnout of Brooklyn elected officials, and Mikhail Prokhorov, the charismatic Russian billionaire who owns most of the Brooklyn Nets and has finally backed up his promises of success by opening his wallet, got significant attention (and equated the arena to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge).


It was still surprising to see a semi-tough Times editorial this morning, coming after a predictably laudatory New York Daily News editorial, one which revealed that the newspaper will be sponsoring the Barclays Center plaza, an apparent conflict of interest that may have only marginal effect, given the newspaper's record. (Does this mean the tabloid rival New York Post will become more critical of the arena?)

The Times editorial, Hoopla in the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, stated:

Amid all the razzle-dazzle, however, it is worth reminding residents as well as the Barclays Center developer of promises made nine years ago. Forest City Ratner Companies, which is building the $4.9 billion project, originally sold the city on the arena plan because it would provide at least 2,250 affordable apartments, 8 acres of open space in the 22-acre project and 10,000 jobs.
Company officials said this week that they would, at some point, make good on those promises. The recession and numerous lawsuits from opponents have slowed down their progress, according to MaryAnne Gilmartin, an executive vice president of the company.
On Friday, Bruce Ratner, chairman of the development company, announced that he would break ground on the first of 14 residential buildings in December. The first building is supposed to offer 181 units of affordable rental apartments, which leaves more than 2,000 affordable units to be finished by 2031.
In some ways, it feels as though the developers got their dessert first — the splendid arena that will draw crowds and superstars starting on Friday night. Now for the meat and potatoes.

The Times didn't mention that it would be impossible to provide the promised 10,000 office jobs, since the developer changed the configuration. Nor did the Times mention that the developer promised 15,000 construction jobs, which would likely be curtailed by the planned use of modular housing.

Nor did the Times mention that the starting date for that first tower has been pushed back at least a dozen times. (Ratner's public statement was almost an afterthought, and he didn't mention whether or not the building would use modular technology.)

Nor did the Times mention that there would be far fewer family-size subsidized units than promised in the first tower, or that those units would skew dramatically toward better-off households, with a plurality of the two-bedroom apartments renting for at least $2,700 a month.

And while the Times clearly queried Forest City's Gilmartin for an explanation of delays, it left out the fact that the developer long promised to build Atlantic Yards in ten years, but was given 25 years by the state. (That's 2035, actually; the 2031 date refers to the deadline to acquire Vanderbilt Yard development rights.)


Posted by steve at 12:12 PM

September 21, 2012

Before the Barclays Center ribbon-cutting, a protest casts harsh light on Atlantic Yards' broken promises (though most media steer clear)

Atlantic Yards Report

The elaborately staged Barclays Center ribbon-cutting event this morning, a testament to political power, corporate might, legal muscle, and significant chops regarding architecture, design, and construction--and, I'd contend, the "Culture of Cheating"-- drew a huge media crowd for what was more a celebration than anything else.

But the loyal opposition--a coalition of five organizations, best-known of which is Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB)--was there to protest the broken promises regarding jobs and affordable housing and to remind people how the deal got done. In other words, the ground sure has shifted, but there are still grounds to not forget.

The 8:15 a.m. protest initially gathered catercorner to the arena at the northeast corner of Atlantic and South Portland avenues, but moved across the street to the sidewalk outside the arena. Some 40 local residents and "bobblehead" figures representing the project's powerbrokers cast harsh light on Atlantic Yards, though, as the Record's John Brennan observed, "with a line already building, most media members kept their spots rather than get close to the 'performance art."

Indeed, as Brennan suggested, there was some loss of energy compared to the March 2010 groundbreaking; I think that's not only because of the indubitable fact of the arena, but also because too much of the press has lost interest.


Photo: Adrian Kinloch

Posted by eric at 10:20 PM

The LIBOR Fixer Center (aka Barclays Center) Ribbon Cutting

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The Land Grab Players present the LIBOR Fixer Center (aka Barclays Center) Ribbon Cutting:


Posted by eric at 10:07 PM

Political Turnout for Barclays Center Ribbon Cutting Pretty Pathetic

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

So, Brooklyn is 1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards, right Markowitz? And it has widespread political support? Right?

Wrong. Besides Bloomberg and Marty Markowitz, and Lieutentant Governor Duffy (not even Gov. Status Cuomo would show his own face, on this the day that Brooklyn "arrived," as Mayor Bloomberg declared at the ribbon cutting), the only Brooklyn elected officials that came to the hoopla ceremony at the Barclays LIBOR Fixer Center were:

Assemblymembers Lentol, Camara and Brook-Krasny, Senator Golden, and Councilmembers Vann, Gentile, Recchia, Mealy.

Eight Brooklyn elected officials. In a borough of 2.6 million.

Pretty telling wouldn't you say?


NoLandGrab: Here's the latest Vegas line on the chances of these Assembly and Council members ending up indicted. Lentol, 7-1. Camara, 4-1. Brook-Krasny, 8-1. Golden, 5-2. Vann, 4-1. Gentile, 6-1. Recchia, 2-1. Mealy, 8-1.

Posted by eric at 9:59 PM

Video: The Barclays Center Opens

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Michael Galinsky

Protesters and politicians gathered at the Barclays Center this morning for the arena’s formal ribbon-cutting and Michael Galinsky, filmmaker and contributor to The Local, captured the scene on camera.

Mr. Galinsky is one of the co-directors of “Battle for Brooklyn,” a documentary which examines Atlantic Yards project development and the local opposition to it.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Battle for Brooklyn director's take on arena ribbon-cutting, with animated Markowitz in an interview

The video gives a flavor of the arena interior, shiny and new and getting high marks, as well as the animated, and almost-frothing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

"It was the right thing to do for Brooklyn and New York," he declares. "I never ever, for one moment, no matter what names I was called, no matter the disgusting, despicable emails and letters and personal, direct innuendos that I had to read over the years, no matter what, that was yesterday, this is today. Done! It's over. Here it is, it's open, it's gone." He claps his hands. "You can look for all the controversy you want--I look for the beautiful things."

NoLandGrab: Stay crazy, Marty.

Posted by eric at 9:44 PM

Operating engineers protest arena ribbon-cutting, saying Ratner affiliate has failed to negotiate

Atlantic Yards Report

About two dozen members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 30, gathered this morning outside the Barclays Center, for an informational protest, not asking anyone to honor a picket line.

Union business rep Bill Lynn said members work at other sports facilities and entertainment venues and manage machinery such as refrigeration equipment, but the arena has refused to negotiate with the union. About 20 jobs are at stake.

"They're looking to try and hire workers and not talk to the union that would represent them," Lynn said, adding that he didn't know whether the workers would be non-union or represented by a different union.

"What they're looking to do is offer substandard wages and benefits," he posited, suggesting that he didn't even think that Bruce Ratner knew what an offshoot of his company was doing. The union is headquartered in Richmond Hill, Queens, but the majority of the people he brought, said Lynn, were from Brooklyn.


Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 9:38 PM

Photos from the Barclays Center event: the triumphant trio; scrolling thanks, "neighborhood" food, and a CBA tribute

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder posted a handful of photographic round-ups of today's arena desecration dedication.


Photo: Nancy Seisel

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Approaching the Barclays Center for the ribbon-cutting event: photos

Atlantic Yards Report, The Barclays Center exterior: finished from one angle, not quite from another

Posted by eric at 9:29 PM

Barclays Center Opponents Protest Arena With Derisive Mock Ribbon-Cutting

by Aaron Marks

This morning, protestors gathered outside the Barclays Center to stage an alternate ribbon cutting ceremony, airing grievances that the Atlantic Yards project has broken its promises of jobs and affordable housing. In lieu of rally cries and speeches, the protestors opted for a slightly different tactic: theater. Indeed, nothing brings the rich and powerful to their knees like ACTING.

With their faces hidden behind two-foot high glossy masks of politicians, the protestors appeared more like a theater troupe than pitchfork mob. Shouts of, "Is anybody wearing Cuomo? Who wants to be Paterson, it's a non-speaking part!" emerged from the pit of around thirty community organizers, who presented a short play satirizing the politics and back room deals which helped build the Barclays center, scheduled to open today.

While their approach may have been non-traditional, the issues they protested are serious. We've known since last year that Atlantic Yards would not be as job friendly as initially promised: Only around 100 out of a promised 1,500 jobs were created for local Brooklynites. But if jobs weren't created, at least the project would be building affordable housing for Brooklyn families, right?



Posted by eric at 2:53 PM

2012 Barclays Center Arena Ribbon Cutting

threecee via flickr


Posted by eric at 2:41 PM

Barclays Center



Posted by eric at 2:34 PM

Culture of Cheating: how state agency withheld document giving Forest City Ratner 25 years to build Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

A good reminder that without heaping helpings of corruption and subterfuge, the Barclays Center would have never been built.

This updates and distills an article posted 4/13/12.

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

The hustle wouldn't have worked without help from Forest City Ratner's partner in government, the Empire State Development Corporation, aka Empire State Development (ESD). It as clear an example of the Culture of Cheating as any.

ESD had recently completed a clever, devious move, withholding the Development Agreement for Atlantic Yards, thus obscuring a project timetable that gave Forest City 25 years to build the project, rather than the long-promised ten years.

Now courts have said definitively that the ESD chose expediency over candor, in order to get Atlantic Yards re-approved in 2009 and to enable that groundbreaking. Now a supplementary environmental review is necessary.

Moral victory

However little the decision may change things on the ground, it's a moral victory and an important message about honest government and the lack thereof.


Posted by eric at 2:27 PM

Brooklyn Nets, 2003-2012: What a long, strange trip it’s been

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

The $1 billion Barclays Center has its grand opening today – a mere nine years after New York real estate developer Bruce Ratner invited us media types to Junior’s in Brooklyn for some cheesecake and chatter about his desire to move the Nets to Brooklyn. Ratner mischievously donned the fedora of Brooklyn basketball legend World B. Free that day, and he seemed convinced he would pull off the plan without too many headaches.

He was right about pulling off the plan – but oh, were there headaches. Here are some highs and lows I’ve taken from my coverage of this idea from Day One....


Posted by eric at 2:23 PM

Officials Mark Completion Of Barclays Center At Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

CBS New York

After much delay, officials marked the completion of the Barclays Center at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it “a great day for Brooklyn and a great day for New York City,” while Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov promised a top-notch product for Brooklyn’s new hard court.

I can assure you: we are bringing a team worthy of this great arena and worthy of Brooklyn,” Prokhorov said.

We've been assured of a lot of things, and we expect the same result from Prokhorov's assurances. Speaking of which...

Demonstrators from the group Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn held a protest at Friday’s ceremony.

They claim Ratner has not followed through on promises to provide good jobs and cheap apartments to residents displaced by the mega-project.

"Claim?" It's not a "claim." It's fact.


Mounted police delivering horse s**t to augment bulls**t being served up to media (Photo: Jonathan Barkey)

Related coverage...

ESPN New York, Mikhail Prokhorov vows title sooner

Later, he added that "I still expect a championship within three years." When he bought the team in 2009, Prokhorov said the Nets would win a championship in five years.

AP via NorthJersey.com, Brooklyn has its own pro team again with opening of Barclays Center

Cue the Dodgers faux-nostalgia...

The Nets will be the borough's first big-time sports team since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles 55 years ago.

That departure is still a sore point for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was a boy at the time the Dodgers left town.

AP via Time, Decades Later, Brooklyn Has Its Own Pro Team

It was like a death in the family for Brooklyn baseball fans when their beloved Dodgers left the borough behind in 1957 for the California coast.

Times were grim for Brooklyn back then. Residents were leaving en masse for the suburbs. Crime was on the rise. And there was little hope that the borough’s plight would improve.

“When the Dodgers left, it was another punch in the face to the fact that Brooklyn’s best days may not be ahead, but may have been behind us,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was 12 years old at the time. “It was depressing.”

"Depressing?" Not nearly as depressing as Bruce Ratner getting away with a subsidy-stuffed land grab. Not by a long shot.

Bleacher Report, Exploring the Barclays Center and New Home of the Brooklyn Nets

The Barclays Center emerges from the corners of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues like a hulking ship moored on an urban island, surrounded on all sides by steady flows of two-way traffic.

Like many New Yorkers, I was waiting for something more to be done with the building’s façade, but have since grown to embrace the Center’s off-color aesthetics.

CNBC, New Arena, New Brand: NBA's ‘Brooklyn’ Nets Are Cool

Brett Yormark know he can always count on CNBC...

"Jay and I collaborate on a lot of different things," said Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and the Barclays Center. Yormark admits, he actually has him on speed dial.

What's cooler than that?

Gothamist, Sneak Peek: Barclays Center Opens Today

Posted by eric at 1:48 PM

Barclays Center, the new jewel in New York's crown, opens its doors

Brooklyn arena is a landmark in the borough's rebirth

NY Daily News, Editorial

The editorial page of the Daily News, responsible for so much cheerleading Atlantic Yards drivel over the past nine years, delivers again.

Nine years in the making, a world-class sports and entertainment arena known as the Barclays Center is officially open at the heart of Brooklyn. How sweet it is!

The venue’s handsome presence at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. is testament to New York’s vitality, to the dramatically rising spirit of the city’s most populous borough and to the perseverance of developer Bruce Ratner.

Now, New York has two baseball stadiums still in their infancy, a refurbished Madison Square Garden and a home for the pro basketball Brooklyn Nets — all built without the heavy public subsidies other cities have laid out to play host to teams.

OK, that's where we stopped reading. "Built without the heavy public subsidies?" They must've forgotten about the $726 million in subsidies that New York City's Independent Budget Office calculated.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily News, in (predictable) cheerleading editorial, reveals it will sponsor Daily News Plaza outside Barclays Center

In the midst of yet another cheerleading editorial for the Barclays Center, the New York Daily News today reveals that the plaza outside the arena will be called the Daily News Plaza. (It was earlier supposed to be the ADT Plaza.)

Who knows the actual business arrangement, but if there's been good reason to believe the Daily News--especially the editorials--has been compromised regarding coverage of Atlantic Yards, this provides more fodder.

(It has also periodically provided relatively more coverage than its rivals, such as mention yesterday of today's arena protests, though that's not saying much.)

Posted by eric at 1:35 PM

A benefit from new subway entrance: easier passage between Q/B and 2/3/4/5 trains

Atlantic Yards Report

While the new Barclays Center subway entrance seems mainly designed to deliver people to the arena, it has some not insignificant ancillary benefits, the magnitude of which will become clear as people use the station more.

Because the entrance leads to a plaza south of Atlantic Avenue, it saves those going to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station from crossing Atlantic and entering at the congested area connected to the Atlantic Terminal mall.

The arena is billed as being linked directly to nine subway lines, but as I explained earlier this week, it's effective really only for six lines: 2/3/4/5/Q/B.

(Those going to the D/N/R at (formerly) Pacific Street must travel up and down underground--useful during bad weather but indirect otherwise. As Benjamin Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas put it, "Via passageway, staircase, platform and another passageway and staircase.")

Also, as I experienced yesterday, the new configuration makes it far easier transfer between the 2/3/4/5 and the Q/B.


Posted by eric at 1:27 PM

Protest Planned Prior to Barclay’s Ribbon Cutting Today

Only The Blog KNows Brooklyn

This morning is the official ribbon cutting and press tour of the Barclay’s Center, that big rusty waffle iron of an arena that was built on Atlantic Avenue in the site of the former Atlantic Yards.

Prior to that event, at 8:15 am (at 669 Atlantic Avenue) members of a consortium of Brooklyn community organizations that opposed the arena will display giant bobbleheads of Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, Borough President Markowitz, Bruce Ratner, Mikhail Prokhorov, and Senator Schumer.

In effect, these community groups including Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Fifth Avenue Committee, are creating an alternate ribbon cutting ceremony and press conference.

Of course it’s too late to try to prevent the arena which is built and ready to open. But it is pertinent to vocally protest the many unfulfilled promises, among them affordable housing and local jobs.


Posted by eric at 1:22 PM

is the barclays center a crime scene?

Gates + Throop

Info compiled by Fort Greene Peace!

As you all know the Barclays Center Arena is opening at the end of this month. There are several events happening under the banner “It’s A Crime!” to raise awareness of the unmet promises of real affordable housing (2,250 promised and none built), living wage jobs (10,000 promised and none delivered), and end to the secret deals and the use of eminent domain for the benefit of the wealthy developers.


Fort Greene Peace will be helping to spread the word at the Farmers’ Market and the BAM Block Party on Saturday. If you can help out with an hour or two or more please let us know at fortgreenepeace@gmail.com.


Posted by eric at 1:17 PM

No Land Grab to cease regular publishing next week: clearinghouse for news was aimed at fighting Atlantic Yards, not watchdogging it: the "switch" has arrived

Atlantic Yards Report

See, Norman Oder is filling the void we're about to create already.

I and others relied on NLG to be the complete archive of Atlantic Yards-related news, and I know others relied on NLG for summaries of my often detailed posts.

I can hardly blame McClure, who shouldered most of the work in recent years, for deciding not to become an archive of the flood of Barclays Center-related news.

I will likely do more round-ups in the future, but will not aim to be comprehensive.

Why did I not shut the blog down, I've been asked, when the construction of the Barclays Center began in 2010? Because the blog was not about "stopping" the arena, it's about looking at a complicated, challenging, and ever-changing story, and trying to hold those in power accountable.

Is the blog sustainable? Not in an open-ended way, but I don't have an expiration date, either.


Posted by eric at 1:09 PM

Post-game specials from the LIRR, but who pays?

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

My unintentional week of coverage concerning the new Barclays Center wraps up today with a look at an announcement from the LIRR. The MTA, as we know, will run extra service along the 2, 4 and Q lines after events at the Barclays Center in order to clear out the crowds, and this week, the agency announced plans to increase LIRR service out of the Atlantic Avenue Terminal as well. With extra train service and a dearth of easy parking in the area, everyone from the MTA to Brooklyn residents are hoping that relatively few people will drive to the Barclays Center.

I was curious about the extra service. Who pays for it all, I wondered. The issue isn’t without controversy as the WMATA and Nationals have run into a dispute this season over service for games that run late. Metro has asked the Nats to pony up nearly $30,000 per hour when the team wants the D.C. subway to run later than normal. In New York, the system’s closing too early isn’t the issue but frequency is.

In New York, the MTA picks up the bill for extra service.

I’ll leave you then with a question: Should the MTA pay for this service? It comes, after all, out of taxpayer and fare-payer pockets, but at the same time, the extra service goes a long way toward keeping cars off the road. One of the reasons why the Yankee Stadium parking lots, for instance, have been so empty is due to the increased Metro-North and subway service. It seems then that the few extra trains are beneficial to everyone. It’s a win-win a relatively marginal cost.


Posted by eric at 1:01 PM

ArtBridge is back, putting art on fences outside arena and TV van parking lot

Atlantic Yards Report

The organization ArtBridge, which a year ago spruced up some Atlantic Yards construction fencing by curating original art to be placed there, is back with the obliquely titled new installation, Intersections:

ArtBridge is pleased to return to the site of the Barclays Center with its latest installation, Intersections. In the works by the eight artists featured in the exhibition, lines meet, colors collide, and patterns form and break apart. Some are orderly, others unpredictable and at large scale in the public realm, can be seen as artful, if not playful interpretations of the varied rhythms of the urban environment that surrounds us.

The title may also conjure up thoughts of the less than salubrious intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

However the fences are the Sixth Avenue side of the arena near Dean Street and also outside the parking lot for TV trucks.


Photo: Atlantic Yards Report

Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

No Vacancy, or, why does New York City have a housing shortage, with so many vacant apartments?

by Gregory A. Butler

How dare Gregory Butler rain on Bruce Ratner's big ribbon-cutting.

As every poor or working class New Yorker knows, the city has a chronic shortage of decent affordable housing. Single poor or working class adults routinely live with roommates, many people live with relatives rather than setting up housekeeping on their own, families often live doubled up with distant relatives or even families they aren’t related to because, in the words of populist former mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan, “the rent is too damned high” in this city.

Indeed the rents are too damned high – an average 2 bedroom apartment in Upper Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx or Brooklyn rents for about $ 1,800 a month. In the rest of Manhattan, an average studio apartment (one big room with a kitchen off to one side and a bathroom) rents for around $ 2,500/mo. If you need a 2 bedroom, it’s around $ 4,000/mo!

Those are the prices for “walkups” (apartments in buildings with no elevator, where you may have to walk up seven flights of stairs to get to your apartment). These apartments aren’t that big either. The average studio is around 250 square feet – a “large” (by New York standards) 2 bedroom might be 1,400 square feet. Almost always, electricity and gas are extra.

Needless to say, not a one of the 20,000 apartments [NLG: Actually 6,430 units, of which 2,250 are pledged to be "affordable" rentals] that billionaire [NLG: Actually, multi-Millionaire] Bruce Ratner is building in Prospect Heights will be affordable to the average working class or poor New Yorker, not even the so called “affordable” ones.


Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

September 20, 2012

Embroiled In Embarrassment of Hosting Controversial Advertisement MTA Considers Banning “Issue Advertising”: What About Barclays LIBOR Scandal?

Noticing New York

You would hardly guess that ads pull so little financial weight when surveying the clamorous melee of advertising cluttering the MTA environment.

Now it turns out that playing prostrate host to advertising can be a headache that’s more than it's worth to the MTA in multiple ways: After objecting and losing in court the MTA has been ordered, on freedom of speech grounds, to run extremely controversial advertisements that, paraphrasing Ayn Rand (of all the gosh-darn times to do so!), equate Arab nations with savages and (of all the gosh-darn times to do so!) instructs New York subway riders to “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Faced with the dilemma of being between this hard-to-stomach place and the court ruling the MTA accedes it must follow, the MTA is now considering having its board adopt a total ban on future issue advertising. Interesting! What does that mean for the MTA’s advertising promoting the Barclays Bank with the “Barclays” Center and the “Barclays” subway stations? Will the MTA now adopt a policy that would have prohibited its current promotion of the LIBOR scandalous British bank? It will at least have to mull over whether whatever policy it adopts should naturally entail such implications.


Posted by eric at 10:11 PM

Round-up: Crain's says environmental review may begin soon; Yormark says arena will be 100% complete (nah); Times touts arena food as hyper-local; Veconi on affordable housing

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder wastes no time stepping into the void about to be left by NoLandGrab.

Crain's New York Business reports, in Many crises later, Barclays Center to open:

Perhaps the most interesting news [sic] to expected to emerge from the event will be the date for breaking ground on the first of the 16 residential towers Forest City plans for the site. Sources said that although the date would be announced Friday, the company has not yet decided whether to use modular or convention construction to build it. Forest City had promised to break ground by the end of the year. It wants to use modular construction to save money, but first needs to reach a deal with the unions to go down that path.

The article recognizes that Forest City and the state lost a lawsuit, and the latter is required to do a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the impacts of a 25-year project buildout:

Opponents are wondering why that study hasn't started, and they're hoping that government officials will put more pressure on Forest City to move at a faster pace to provide the jobs and affordable housing that were promised as a part of the project...

"There has never been enough supervision of this project," said Gib Veconi, treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a preservation group that opposed the project. "We need more transparency."

A spokesman for the Empire State Development Corp. said environmental consultant AKRF will conduct the environment review. He noted that the agency has been working on a draft scope of the review with hopes of beginning the public scoping later this fall.

So get ready for another round of public meetings.


NoLandGrab: Another round of public meetings? Homey don't play that. If there's one thing we learned from the Atlantic Yards approval "process," it's not to play the game when someone else makes the rules. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more politely stopping when our allotted three minutes are up. Mic check? MIC CHECK!

Posted by eric at 9:49 PM

Many crises later, Barclays Center to open

The 675,000-square-foot arena at the center of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn will host its first event Friday. Watch for possible news on the 16 planned residential towers.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

Um, the arena opening is the crisis.

Nearly nine tumultuous years after it was first announced—a span of time marked by multiple protests, at least seven lawsuits, a global financial crisis, the involvement of a Russian tycoon and the firing of a star architect—the Barclays Center at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards is slated to be officially unveiled on Friday.

The 675,000-square-foot arena at the center of Forest City Ratner Co.'s massive project is set to host its first event when Jay-Z, the Brooklyn native and minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets, opens a sold-out concert series in the venue that will serve as the home of the basketball team. Various officials will be on hand Friday to cut the ribbon on the arena, including Forest City Ratner chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who bought the majority of the team and 45% of the arena in 2009.


Posted by eric at 9:42 PM

Capital New York's McGeveran: phase 1 of Ratner's rehabilitation is successful, but next phase will be harder; also, Hamill's "two-page gloat"

Atlantic Yards Report

Capital New York co-founder Tom McGeveran, who opposed the Atlantic Yards arena, writes in an email to subscribers (not on the web, thus reproduced in full), a thoughtful, more supportive-than-not essay, headlined "Bruce Ratner's apology to Brooklyn, Part One":

The builders of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will have much to celebrate at tomorrow's ribbon cutting, having made it through legal battles, financing troubles and architectural disputes to get to the opening of the giant arena.

The mood will be different outside, where some vocal Brooklynites who opposed the arena will gather. They're the ones who protested first the seizure of property to cobble the site together and then the effect the arena would have on the sensitive intersection of residential neighborhoods like Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope and Boerum Hill, at the crossroads of which Barclays sits.

As it turns out, the arena itself is a beautiful structure, in stark contrast to developer Bruce Ratner's previous building forays in the neighborhood. Both 1996's Atlantic Center mall and 2004's Atlantic Terminal Mall are blights, and did much to make the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues feel like some windswept highway off-ramp halfway through Connecticut, in some exurban nowhere.

I'm not totally shocked that this Ratner project came out so differently because Ratner went, in the end, with SHOP, a local architectural firm that's big on both ambition and humanness. Partner Gregg Pasquarelli has the kind of genuine excitement for this project that you just don't see with rabid capitalist-architects who want to build houses for banksters.

The arena is striking, sure, and memorable. Beauty, of course, will be in the eye of the beholder, and I've heard a real spectrum of opinions already.

There's more.


Related content...

Capital New York, Bruce Ratner's apology to Brooklyn, Part One

Posted by eric at 9:28 PM

A Farewell to Arms...

Norman Oder's "Morning round-up" is an apropos jumping-off point for us to announce that we will cease publishing NoLandGrab on a daily basis next week.

We are immensely grateful to our loyal readers and occasional contributors for your great support, but the time has come for us to hang up our keyboards. This is the 19,146th post on our current publishing platform, which was launched on January 31st, 2004, and there were a fair number of NoLandGrab posts prior to that. In some instances, a post might have covered as many as a couple dozen individual news items. So we've burned up a lot of bandwidth, and a few editors. It's entirely possible that we've reported on 100,000 stories about Atlantic Yards, and that seems to be about enough.

We launched NoLandGrab as a clearinghouse for news about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. We thought the community (and media) would benefit from having a one-stop shop for what was being reported about the project, as well as a venue for the dissemination of information about the fight against what we believed was, and is, a corrupt abuse of eminent domain, a sinkhole for scarce public dollars, a subversion of democratic process, and an urban-planning disaster — among other abuses.

We also intended NoLandGrab as a means of fighting to stop Atlantic Yards, not watchdogging the project as it took shape. And with tomorrow's ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the Barclays Center, the project — or at least the "switch" — is taking shape. The "bait" — most of the promised jobs and all of the affordable housing — have yet to materialize, and whether they ever will remains to be seen.

As Atlantic Yards Report has expanded from original reportage to covering a good chunk of the news that we do, with the emergence of Atlantic Yards Watch as a nitty-gritty watchdog site, with the regular contributions of Noticing New York, and with the continuing web presence of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, project-watchers won't want for information about Atlantic Yards — though admittedly we do the job with superior wit and irony. Those aforementioned sites should consider that a challenge to which they will surely rise.

We will, however, reserve the right to weigh in when we observe something particularly galling — we're looking at you, Andrea Peyser and Denis Hamill — but we won't be covering the latest news about Barclays Center concert announcements or Bruce Ratner's or Brett Yormark's latest bald-faced lie (unless, of course, it's particularly bald-faced and galling).

Thanks again for reading our work.

Good afternoon, and good luck.

—The Editors

Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Morning round-up: NY1 on Battle for Brooklyn; Daily News' cramped view of protests; columnist Hamill plays reliable tune (and gets front page!); Post takes odd swipe at arena's lack of Barclays ATMs

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Daily News columnist Denis Hamill, professional Brooklyn nostalgist and Queens resident, reliably pens Brooklyn's Barclays Center is a rallying cry for borough that has been absent of a major sports team since Dodgers left town in 1957:

This rising tide will float all boats.

Which is why the NYC Independent Budget Office concluded that the arena would be a net loss for city taxpayers.

He writes:

But mostly, I think how lucky the kids of Brooklyn will be not to have to catch an F train to Times Square and then change to a 7 to go root for the Mets of Flushing, Queens. Or take the train all the way uptown into the distant Bronx on the mainland of the United States to cheer for the pinstriped Yankees.

How lucky they’ll be not to have to travel to Manhattan to see the Knicks or the Rangers or the Golden Gloves finals at Madison Square Garden.

What fantasy world does he live in? For most events, there will be few tickets available that are affordable to most "kids of Brooklyn."

Check out the cover. Hamill's description is:

It was an under-developed section of prime Brooklyn in the shadow of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, then the borough’s tallest, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Flatbush and Atlantic, once a place where hookers strolled, will now become the Hollywood and Vine of Brooklyn as borough native Jay-Z opens the arena with eight sold-out shows that begin Sept. 28.

A place where hookers strolled. Yeah, a while back. Also a "great piece of real estate," as Forest City Enterprises Chuck Ratner once said--and they got it with no competition for the full site and only one bidder responding to the belated RFP for the Vanderbilt Yard.

The New York Post, in Banking airball: Barclays has no game despite its $400M arena deal, suggests it's a problem that there will be no Barclays ATMs at the Barclays Center arena.

I think that's the least of their problems; there's that LIBOR scandal they'll be trying to live down for a while. And it's not a $400 million naming-rights deal; the sum was cut to $200 million plus unspecified additional payments.


NoLandGrab: But mostly, we think how lucky people who never read Denis Hamill's columns are.

Posted by eric at 12:43 PM

Brooklyn Holds Court: Documentary Outlines Controversy Surrounding Barclays Project

by Shazia Khan

Michael Galinsky, the director of "Battle for Brooklyn," wants to make sure that no one forgets just how the Barclays Center took center court.

"I love basketball," Galinsky says. "I'm a huge basketball fan. I don't think it negates the fact, though, that the process was really ugly and corrupt."

The film follows Brooklynite Daniel Goldstein's fight against developer Bruce Ratner, whose eventual use of eminent domain cleared the way for the arena, the cornerstone of his Atlantic Yards project. Towards the end of the more-than-eight-year process, Goldstein's condo is among the private properties seized for the project.

"Atlantic Yards was supposed to have been about jobs, housing and hoops," Goldstein says. "It was not supposed to be just about basketball and what's happening in these coming weeks is just basketball, just an arena. That's not what was promised and that's not why Ratner received so many public subsides, received the use of eminent domain.

"Battle for Brooklyn" premiered last year but it's set to have a nationwide release next week. Screenings around town include a showing at the Dean Playground Ball Field, just a stone's throw from the arena. The film will screen there next Friday, the same night the Barclays Center opens.

"We knew there was going to be so much press and hoopla about the arena," Galinsky says. "We wanted to make sure that people remembered what really happened."

link [with video]

Posted by eric at 12:37 PM

Last man standing in the way of Barclays Center plan to picket ceremonial ribbon cutting

Daniel Goldstein and members of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn plan to let developer Bruce Ratner know that they're not going away.

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin and Corky Siemaszko

The big shots will be congratulating each other when Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center opens Friday, but some of the little guys will be jeering.

Daniel Goldstein and members of his anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn plan to picket the ceremonial ribbon-cutting — and let mega-developer Bruce Ratner know they are not going away.

“We intend to remind people that Ratner . . . has yet to make good on promises he made to provide good jobs and cheap apartments when he got the go-ahead to build the arena,” he said.

For Goldstein, 41, the fight against the Barclays Center is not academic, it’s personal. He was the last thing standing in the way of Ratner’s plans to level part of a Prospect Heights neighborhood and build an arena. In many ways, he’s the public face of the controversy over eminent domain, offering a critique about crony capitalism and greed later picked up by the Occupy Wall Street movement.


Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

The Culture of Cheating: the developer's original Atlantic Yards map was much smaller, which suggests an arbitrary map of blight (and Forest City wanted to buy the Devils)

Atlantic Yards Report

The decision to declare the Atlantic Yards site blighted, a necessary precondition to the use of eminent domain, has long been suspect for several reasons:

  • developer Forest City Ratner drew the map of the 22-acre project site, with the oddly missing gap in the south-central block
  • the Blight Study conducted by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) concerned only the footprint of the project
  • the consultant conducting the Blight Study was hired to conduct a "Blight Study in support of the proposed project"
  • the consultant, AKRF, had always found blight as directed
  • the consultant, though initially charged to do so, did not compare market conditions on the project site with conditions nearby (Prospect Heights was already a hot neighborhood, and even pro-Atlantic Yards legislator Roger Green said the area was not blighted)
  • the criteria for blight, such a properties built out to less than 60% of allowable development rights, were arbitrary and never promulgated to warn property owners
  • blight was not raised as an official justification when Atlantic Yards was announced

That should be enough to suggest that the Atlantic Yards eminent domain process qualifies as the Culture of Cheating.

But wait, there's more.


Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

The Day: Speed Bumps Coming To Streets Near Barclays Center

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

In advance of the Barclays Center’s Sept. 28 opening, the city Department of Transportation will install new speed bumps within a half-mile radius of the arena, Council Member Letitia James said in an announcement posted on the Washington Avenue/Prospect Heights Association Facebook page. Three of the new traffic-calming humps will be in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. You’ll see one on Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place; one on Carlton Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street; and one on Clinton Avenue between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue.


Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo attend Barclays Center ribbon-cutting tomorrow? At very least, a Cuomo bobblehead at counter-ceremony (and maybe a housing announcement)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Governor of New York State is the key public official in charge of Atlantic Yards: because it's a state project, overseen and promoted by Empire State Development, the gubernatorially-controlled state authority, the buck stops at the governor's desk.

Gov. George Pataki was a crucial early booster, attending press conferences in support of the project, Gov. Eliot Spitzer maintained support, and Gov. David Paterson attended the March 2010 arena groundbreaking and famously pronounced that Atlantic Yards would have "job creation the likes of which Brooklyn has never seen."

In the media advisory announcing the official arena ribbon-cutting, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was not listed as among the attendees, which include Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Borough President Marty Markowitz. I queried the Governor's office and got no response.

That doesn't mean he's not coming. Cuomo's schedule seems to be updated day-to-day. He's in Albany today. I'd bet he wants to make it; elected officials tend to think such events provide good publicity.

Then again, given that Cuomo is ultimately responsible for the very limited oversight of Atlantic Yards, he couldn't be thrilled about facing questions about reforming project governance--or seeing himself as one of the two officials targeted as responsible for the project's failure to deliver promised benefits.


Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

Why the Nets Not Living in Brooklyn Could Hurt Their Credibility

NBA Grapevine

Just how “Brooklyn” is the Brooklyn Nets is an acrimonious and hotly debated subject for borough residents, particularly those who live near the Barclays Center.

However, whether the Nets’ players represent the Brooklyn lifestyle is not up for argument. That’s because none of them will be living in Brooklyn this season (via The New York Times).

With an arena that purports to give fans year-round gladiatorial-scale entertainment, the resulting noise pollution and traffic will inevitably transform parts of the idyllic neighborhood into a burgeoning metropolis in its early and most uncomfortable stages.

The inconsistent blend between the rust-colored homuncular national bank arena and the surrounding neighborhood’s aged brownstones and small stores is a testament that Brooklyn’s ethos is being changed, perhaps forcibly, by outside property owners.


Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

Success of Brooklyn's Barclays Center Will Be in the Eye of the Be-Hova

As the controversial arena nears completion, a SHoP-designed weathered steel facade—and the involvement of the hip-hop mogul Jay-Z—will influence its success.

Architectural Record
by Fred A. Bernstein

New York City felt “baited-and-switched,” says Gregg Pasquarelli, the principal of SHoP Architects, explaining how his firm came to design Barclays Center, the 675,000-square-foot arena in Brooklyn, home to the Brooklyn (formerly New Jersey) Nets. The arena will open with a Jay-Z (aka Hova) concert on September 28. The bait-and-switch occurred when Bruce Ratner, the developer of the arena, dangled a design by Frank Gehry, helping him win city approval for the project, then dropped Gehry after the financial meltdown of 2008. By spring of 2009, Ratner found himself with no design for the building, and a looming deadline: a tax law change that would have cost him hundreds of millions of dollars if the building wasn’t “in the ground” by the end of the year.

The SHoP partners envisioned a weathered steel façade that Pasquarelli describes as “snakeskin designed by Richard Serra and Coco Chanel,” which would cover the arena and a large oculus that projected out over the triangular plaza in the front of the building, like a giant, pierced tongue.


Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

Red and green messages from the subway globes

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

As I took a walk around the outside of the new Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center subway entrance on Monday afternoon, I chuckled to myself when I spotted a free-standing pole with a green globe on top of it. The subway globe strikes me as an iconic part of the subway system, albeit one that isn’t very old, and the globes themselves are supposed to broadcast a message to the public. These days, based on emails and Twitter comments I’ve received, no one really knows what they mean.

I’ve always associated the globes with the subway system and for good reason. Once upon a time, the globes were simply white with the word “subway” written through them. The color system in place today with red and green globes made their New York City debuts, so to speak, at around the same time I did. The MTA installed the globes in 1982, about a year before I arrived on the scene, and they were introduced as a safety measure.


NoLandGrab: You'll have to click the link for the answer, but here's our guess — the green represents all the corporate welfare that enabled the building of the Barclays Center, and the red represents all the red ink that the taxpayers are stuck with.

Posted by eric at 10:48 AM

Three-pointer! Triangle Sports building sold

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

Bruce Ratner's gentrification machine is kicking into high gear.

Two young real estate titans snatched up the prized Triangle Sports building steps from the soon-to-open Barclays Center — adding a crown jewel to their already impressive collection of upmarket Brooklyn properties and kicking off in earnest a real estate gold rush around the arena.

Redsky Capital LLC, helmed by recent Cornell graduates Benjamin Bernstein and Benjamin Stokes, purchased the three-sided structure on Flatbush Avenue for $4.1 million — a whopping $900 per square foot that sets a new record among comparable retail buildings in the borough, insiders say.

The young real estate barons would not comment on their plans or divulge anything about potential tenants for the site, which McDonald’s eyed earlier this year.


Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

September 19, 2012

What Comes Second: The Lesson of the Barclays Center

Culture Desk [NewYorker.com]
by Alexandra Lange

After nine contentious years, it is here. My first reaction, standing opposite on the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues is: it is big. Much bigger than I expected. The only arena that I am familiar with as a pedestrian is Madison Square Garden, a circular box in a forest of surrounding towers. You never see the bulk of it plain. On television, the cameras shoot arenas from above, turning surrounding parking lots into wallpaper, and emphasizing the shape and edge. But here there’s nothing to obscure, soften, or relate to the arena, which occupies more than a city block. The width of the surrounding streets allows the Barclays Center to stand in relief as the alien presence it is. The architect Gregg Pasquarelli recently described the arena to the New York Times as what might happen if “Richard Serra and Chanel created a U.F.O. together.”

My second reaction was dismay. I do not think the arena’s architecture should relate better to the context. The immediate context is the developer Forest City Ratner’s two cheaply clad, faux-historicist malls across Atlantic Avenue. The larger context is the lowrise brownstone neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. To relate to the first would be depressing; to relate to the second, impossible. The real building is an exact analogue to the renderings of this site, which, like so many other renderings, blur and dematerialize the neighbors. All you can see is the Barclays Center, because it is big, because it is dark, because it is without scale.

The arena was always a Trojan horse: its stars (Jay-Z), its original starchitect (Frank Gehry), and its semi-public function (bringing pro basketball to Brooklyn) have been used to make the development of the Vanderbilt rail yard seem like a reward rather than an imposition.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A grim arena assessment by critic Lange in the New Yorker: "What the Barclays Center does is create a whole new context"

Brooklynite and critic Alexandra Lange, she of the epic Nicolai Ouroussoff takedown, pens a grim view of the (outside of) the Brooklyn arena, in a New Yorker Culture Desk blog post headlined What Comes Second: The Lesson of the Barclays Center:

As you walk east along Atlantic Avenue, the new Barclays Center appears first as a dark shape on the horizon... The wrapper was designed by SHoP Architects, and the tough mesh speaks of the industrial past and the digital present, an image reinforced by the pulsing screens lining the cut-out entrance canopy. The Barclays logo speaks only of corporate branding, without a lilt. Given the bank’s recent scandals, it may be helpful that the signage can be switched out.

It's notable that Lange commented on the corporate branding and the cloud over Barclays; I suspect that most sports fans and sports scribes will pay it no mind. But critics shouldn't.

She's somewhat generous to the pre-weathered steel: as online comments suggest, some people love it, some people hate it.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, First Review of the LIBOR Fixer Center (aka Barclays Center) Is In. It's Not So Good

Though architectural criticism of a boondoggle is kind of besides the point, we know that there is a coming barrage. Critic Alexandra Lange takes the first critical look at the arena exterior and finds it alien to its surroundings, dark and, like renderings, "dematerializes" the neighbors. And the "The Barclays logo speaks only of corporate branding, without a lilt."

That's true.

Her overall thesis is that housing should have come first. And she is right.

Posted by eric at 10:20 PM

Wednesday Winners (and Losers)

Mobilizing the Region


Forest City RatnerAtlantic Yards Watch has revealed that the neighborhood near Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has been plagued by regulation-flouting trucks in the area on construction business, a condition that has reportedly grown even as project developer Forest City Ratner assumed control of an arena loading dock earlier this month. “With apparently no enforcement taking place,” AYW writes, “the consequence is a wide range of adverse impacts on the community: trucks idling for long periods; use of unauthorized truck routes; and blocking of bus lanes, bike lanes, no standing zones and travel lanes. Travel and the quality of life on Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th Avenue is particularly affected.”


Posted by eric at 10:09 PM

Video: Oculus goes fully live, with bright signage and rapid changes visible from a good distance away

Atlantic Yards Report

Until today, testing of the digital signage inside the Barclays Center oculus has been limited to a half-circumference or so. Today, the whole circle went live, and the photographer known as AYInfoNYC was there to capture it, from various angles.

The digital signage is supposed to be less obtrusive than, say, Times Square, and that's surely so. But the brightness and rapid changes may be disorienting for some drivers. (It's not clear whether/how it will be visible to any on residential streets.) The signage will go dark only from 1-5 am daily.

Click through for several more views.


Posted by eric at 10:02 PM

Atlantic Yards Developers Continue to Dodge Agreements on Affordable Housing

The Surreal Estate
by Elise Goldin

I’m sure that it comes as no shock that developer Forest City Ratner continues to weasel its way around this promise. Despite next week’s opening of the shiny New Barclay’s Center, affordable housing will not even begin construction until sometime this Fall. City Limits details how current plans for affordable housing, known as “Tower 2” differ from original promises:

Housing is more geared towards middle income than low, rents more than $2,700 a month and fewer family sized units than promised…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 community’s initial optimism about Atlantic Yards and its potential benefits has waned rapidly, thanks to a lack of transparency on the part of HDC and Forest City Ratner. Aside from a few feeble protests, New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) has stood by as Forest City Ratner continues reduce the number of family-sized units in Tower 2. Though the city has refused to provide Ratner with additional subsidy when asked, it has allowed the developer to adjust the number of 2-3 bedroom apartments in order to save money. This essentially limits the number of low-income families who will be able to call Atlantic Yards home, and welcomes single, shorter term and higher income residents. These adjustments to Forest City Ratner’s affordable housing plan were made in secret.


Posted by eric at 9:56 PM

Devils/Islanders in Brooklyn officially canceled

SNY Devils Blog

The Devils/Islanders preseason game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn was officially canceled today, according to Chris Botta of Sports Business Journal.

The exhibition game scheduled for Oct. 2 was supposed to be the first sports event at the new arena in Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab: If this report is accurate — the NHL has officially only canceled games through September 30th — it's Bruce Ratner's lucky day. Because it will push back the exposure of the Barclays Center's complete incompatibility with professional hockey.

Posted by eric at 9:50 PM

Alternatives To The Scandalously Spawned, Scandalously Named Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” Center: Protest & Locally Nurtured Concerts

Noticing New York

The kleptocratic story of how the Forest City Ratner/Mikhail Prokhorov “Barclays” Center Brooklyn basketball arena was spawned and inflicted through to its imminent completion is an ugly one. And then there's the name. . . The arena could have been named after any corporation ponying up some advertising dollars. . and whatever name the arena, squeezed into its Brownstone Brooklyn location ultimately brandished, it was likely to be deemed an irksome synonym for ignominy. Nevertheless, the demon gods overseeing the project’s incubation managed to short-cut more directly to ensure that result: This public-paid for piece of Brooklyn sports the name of “Barclays,” the bank whose association with the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal appropriately evokes the arrogant primacy our society puts on having the interests of the 1% supersede those of the 99%.

There Are Alternatives!

It's good to know that there are alternatives when the onslaught of publicity for the arena makes it seem almost obligatory for every citizen to celebrate the arrival of this first slice of the Forest City Ratner/Mikhail Prokhorov mega-monopoly conceptualized as "Atlantic Yards," nominally 22 newly-bequeathed acres but actually a monolithic total of 30+ developer-controlled contiguous acres. No, Not so . . There are clearly superior alternatives to feeling obligated to join the celebration or start attending arena events: The arena’s arrival can be protested, and in preference to the arena’s plans for what sounds like some overgrown concert performance confections there are enticing homegrown local alternatives that offer the more intimate embrace of time spent with performers who may actually be more moral and truer to their roots.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards: "Culture of Cheating" or an actual "crime"?

Michael D.D. White writes in Noticing New York:

Mr. Oder takes issue with whether Atlantic Yards can be technically described as a “crime,” suggesting that, more accurately, it is just part of the “culture of cheating,” the rubric under which Mr. Oder has been running a series of articles summing up how the mega-project has, across the board, been based upon strategies of deception and bad faith. But denying the crime here overlooks how the government, itself, was used as an instrument of theft which is, after all, the definition of “kleptocracy,” where a politically connected elite steal from the less advantaged.

Those keeping careful score as to what defines a “crime” will tell you that in these situations the real crime isn't what is technically illegal, it is what gets redefined as legal in order to permit such behavior. To give just two examples: That kind of redefining is what happened when the state and federal constitutional prohibitions on seizing private property for private benefit (including constitutional protections recently voted upon by New Yorkers) were rewritten out of existence by state agency skulduggery supported by judicial fiat (meaning that property that neighbor and senator Charles Schumer clearly knewwasn’t “blighted” was pretextually deemed to be so by collusive government officials so it could be taken by Ratner). And that kind of scrapping of laws on the books is what happened when the MTA decided that it didn’t have to comply with recently enacted public authority reform legislation designed to prohibit its rigged deal with Ratner because it was sure no one was going to make them follow the law.

So the real crime is what gets defined as legal? I get his point, but Michael Kinsley famously observed that the real scandal in Washington is what's legal, not illegal.

So as long as "crime" retains an actual relation to the criminal code, I'll stick with "cheating."

Posted by eric at 9:23 PM

"They played Brooklyn": Bed-Stuy's Umar Jordan, whose dramatic testimony boosted Atlantic Yards in August 2006, now says he's disgusted

Atlantic Yards Report

We don't want to say we told you so...

For one intense day in August 2006, Umar Jordan, a streetwise black man from the ‘hood--an ex-con turned handyman, youth worker, and community organizer--was as eloquent an exponent for Atlantic Yards as anyone, baiting opponents whom he claimed didn’t care about the real Brooklyn.

“If you haven't been to Brownsville or East New York, Flatbush, you not from Brooklyn," Jordan pronounced at a charged public hearing, "you just visiting." The room, hot and crowded with more than 800 people, erupted in roars.

Jordan was a bit of a mystery guest: he had not previously spoken up in the Atlantic Yards debate and soon vanished from it.

Still, his bravura performance was such that, three months later, in a New York Times article, Perspectives on the Atlantic Yards Development Through the Prism of Race, Jordan’s speech provided the lead anecdote, albeit with no more information about him.

Today, however, Jordan is bitter and angry about Atlantic Yards, seeing little impact on those “real” Brooklyn communities he knows, with few of the many promised benefits delivered. He’s a huge basketball fan, but Jordan says he’ll never attend a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We weren’t fighting for a stadium, we were fighting for young men in this [housing] project, and other projects... to have an opportunity to get a job, or at least go through an apprenticeship program to train them for jobs,” he states, interviewed recently at the Marcy Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “We were so deceived by the powers that be it was ridiculous.”

"They played Brooklyn, they played all of us," Jordan declares, with characteristic certainty. "We just got shook. Game over. We got played. The whole of Brooklyn got played."

Jordan, it might be argued, got played somewhat himself and might be experiencing some sour grapes. But he doesn’t see it that way. And the story he tells illuminates just how "community" support got promoted.


NoLandGrab: ...but we told you so.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Former Atlantic Yards Supporter Umar Jordan is Disgusted: "They played Brooklyn. They played all of us."

We feel for Mr. Jordan and take no solace in saying we told you so. We really don't. Though we wouldn't mind an apology for the caricature he made of project opponents for simply standing up for their beliefs.

We'd love for Mr. Jordan to join us at the upcoming AYCrimeScene events next week centered around the arena opening.

Posted by eric at 12:51 PM

The Culture of Cheating: does Yonkers trial show Forest City as “good corporate citizen”? Prosecutors say developer avoided "significant concessions"

Atlantic Yards Report

...in its desperate effort to get its 81-acre Ridge Hill retail/residential project past the Yonkers City Council, Ratner’s firm had rewarded a fixer--a clear case of looking at “the economics.” FCE and its subsidiaries are no stranger to aggressive lobbying and strategic spending, but this time Forest City Ratner seemed to cross a line--an ethical one, if not a legal one.

Shortly before the trial, the two key Forest City executives expected to testify, government relations chief Bruce Bender and his deputy Scott Cantone, let it be known they were leaving to form a consulting company.

Was this a purge, or perhaps damage control? Given the duo’s subsequent testimony--how Forest City hired a Yonkers operative for a no-show job after he helped get a City Council Member to flip her vote on Ridge Hill--their departure didn’t look routine.

Rarely does the development dance get described in such excruciating detail, complete with profane email messages and hold-your-noise hiring. This was the Culture of Cheating--no, not for Atlantic Yards, but with the same developer and many of the same players.

As the trial proceeded, Crain’s New York Business columnist Greg David, generally a friend to developers, commented that Forest City Ratner must be relieved that its “See no evil, hear no evil” posture in Yonkers got so little attention.

About six weeks after the trial began, on March 29, the fixer, Republican Zehy Jereis, and the Council Member, Democrat Sandy Annabi, were convicted on all counts, including the giving and receiving of corrupt payments and, in the case of a second project, extortion. Whatever the verdict, as David suggested, Forest City Ratner’s reputation had already been tainted--and far more than when the indictment emerged in January 2010.


Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Atlantic Yards protesters list demands: new plan, reformed oversight, more developers, environmental review, new regulations

Atlantic Yards Report

Organizers of the Atlantic Yards Crime Scene web site and upcoming protest events centered around at the Barclays Center opening weekend have fleshed out the website that debuted earlier this month, with, among other things, a list of demands:

When it put the economic interests of a single private developer before critical promised public benefits, the State of New York failed its obligation to the people of Brooklyn and the taxpayers of New York.

We demand that the State now:

However understandable these demands, they depend on a political configuration that doesn't yet exist. Still, I'd expect at least some more attention to public input as the project goes forward.


Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

Whatever Happened to the [In]famous Atlantic Yards Redevelopment Project?

Gideon's Trumpet

We just came across an admittedly partisan but revealing post by the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn folks ([DDDB] 9/12) which informs its readers that the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards redevelopment project — the one that was judicially approved in Goldstein v. Pataki – is having problems. In a nutshell, these folks tell us that apart from the basketball arena, nothing much is being built there. In their words:

“After $300 million of taxpayer dollars, and nearly $1.6 billion in special breaks, government favors and below market public land sales, and two and one half years after the arena groundbreaking, not a single one of the promised 2,250 taxpayer subsidized, “affordable” housing units is under construction, and of the 10,000 “permanent” jobs promised, the developer has announced only 105 full time jobs and 1,900 non-living wage jobs. There is no groundbreaking scheduled for the first of 15 planned residential towers, and the office tower that was to provide space for those 10,000 jobs is unlikely to be constructed in this generation, if ever.”

Sounds like Kelo all over again, doesn’t it?


NoLandGrab: Sure it's partisan. It's also true.

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

Coming to the Barclays Center plaza: a flagpole representing Ebbets Field (so I hear)

Atlantic Yards Report

A flagpole (right) was installed Monday on the plaza outside the Barclays Center arena, near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. It's obviously meant to be a beacon of sorts.

There's space on the flagpole base for a plaque.

What's coming? There's no official announcement yet, but I hear that the flagpole is supposed to represent the flagpole at Ebbets Field, home of the baseball Dodgers until they left Brooklyn after the 1957 season. And that means the flag will either be vintage or a copy.

(Yes, I know this is not officially sourced, but I had the Barbra Streisand news right.)

Linking the Nets and the Dodgers

It's another effort to link the Nets and the Dodgers, a connection important mainly to men of a certain age--like Borough President Marty Markowitz--and a connection easily grasped by media outlets.


Posted by eric at 12:17 PM

Billionaires and Millionaires to Cut the Ribbon at Barclays Center on Friday


Two multi-billionaires and two multi-millionaires (plus some politicians) will be cutting the ribbon at the Barclays Center arena this Friday.

Presiding over the ceremony will be Mayor Michael Bloomberg (worth $22 billion); Brooklyn Nets owner and Russian Mikhail Prokhorov ($18 billion), Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner ($400 million), part-owner Jay-Z ($480 million) and Borough President Marty Markowitz (priceless).

That's about $41 billion dollars worth of humanity on stage Friday morning, not counting the little people.


Related coverage...

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Ribbon-cutting for long-awaited Barclays Center

Interestingly, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and several other groups that took part in the opposition to the Atlantic Yards plan – especially its use of eminent domain – plan a series of protest events.

While the arena itself is a done deal, they contend that Forest City Ratner has not followed through on initial promises of jobs and affordable housing.

Among these events are a candlelight vigil on Thursday night at the nearby Brooklyn Bears Community Garden; and a press conference, also at the community garden, at 11 a.m. on the morning of the ribbon-cutting.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Jay-Z's place: He opens Barclays Center

by Glenn Gamboa

The tourists asking for directions in a part of Brooklyn that hasn't seen tourists in years are looking for the same thing. They want to see "Jay-Z's Place."

That's not factually correct, of course.

In fact, it's total bulls**t. Tourists don't ask for directions to "Jay-Z's Place," and they've been flocking to Brownstone Brooklyn for years.

The massive new arena at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues isn't actually called that, and the rapper from nearby Bed-Stuy isn't really responsible for building it, though he did help out occasionally. Nevertheless, when the Barclays Center, the home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, opens Sept. 28, it will be Jay-Z doing the honors, with the first of eight sold-out concerts.

Though Jay-Z owns only about one-fifteenth of one percent of the Nets franchise, he has been the public face of the project to move the New Jersey team to its new home. ("He is it," Brooklyn Nets minority owner and Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner told The New York Times last month. "He is us. He is how people are going to see that place.")


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Markowitz on arena: "It will bring us respect that's overdue"

Borough President Marty Markowitz, in a Newsday article headlined Jay-Z's place: He opens Barclays Center:

For a lifelong Brooklyn resident like Markowitz, the arrival of the borough's first major league sports team since the Brooklyn Dodgers is cause for lengthy celebration. "It will bring us respect that's overdue," he says. "It puts Brooklyn on the national map and gives us a sense of pride. It will bring people together in that way that music and religion and family and sports can -- really bring us together in a common goal to cheer for the team."

Really, hasn't it been a while since Brooklyn was the butt of jokes? Hasn't he heard of tres Brooklyn?

Posted by eric at 12:02 PM

Free A.T.M.’s at the New Barclays Center

Bucks [NYTimes.com]
by Ann Carrns

ABC left out a small detail in their story two days ago about the "free" ATMs at the Barclays Center, which The Times also buries in parentheses.

(The machines themselves don’t charge any access fees, but patrons’ own bank may charge them a fee for using an out-of-network A.T.M.)

With Bruce Ratner, there's always a catch.


NoLandGrab: So you'll get to watch an ad and get docked a fee as a bonus!

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

8 Bold Predictions for the Brooklyn Nets in Their Inaugural NBA Season

Bleacher Report
by Josh Martin

Bold predictions? More like absurd predictions.

The eyes of the basketball world will be watching as the Nets make their triumphant return to the Empire State on November 1 for their first regular season game as New York residents since 1977.

That was also the Nets' inaugural season in the NBA, immediately following the merger with the ABA, and, coincidentally (or not), marked the beginning of the franchise's long-standing futility. The Nets sold Julius Erving (a.k.a. Doctor J) to the Philadelphia 76ers just prior to the 1976-77 campaign as a means of covering the cost of entering The Association and have hardly been heard from since.

Until this year, anyway. The Nets' arrival in Brooklyn brings with it a revamped roster and new hope for success, perhaps even more so than the halcyon days of the Jason Kidd era.


Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

Barclays Center Boasts Stacked Concert Lineup

Dean Street

It's a safe bet that NoLandGrab won't be giving this place its holiday party business.

Need dinner before a show? A drink afterward? Stop by and we will treat you right.

We can hardly wait until the 28th, and it seems like most of the city feels the same way. Having another venue for events and entertainment is incredibly exciting, especially since this one is in our back yard. We hope to see you soon, and remember Dean Street next time you are headed to Barclays.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

Shoplifter bites security guard

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

Following in the great tradition of Bruce Ratner...

Atlantic terminated

A pick-pocket struck in the elevator of the Atlantic Terminal Mall, stealing a woman’s wallet on Sept. 9.

The 61-year-old victim said she got in the building’s elevator at 6 pm and noticed her wallet was missing when she got out.


Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

September 18, 2012

Arena facade will provide an all-over light show at night

Atlantic Yards Watch

In what is something of a surprise, the facade of Barclays Center is to be illuminated by multi-colored LED lights set in between the body of the arena building and the metal shell designed by SHoP Architects. The lights will shine from each of the slots in the rusted steel exterior. The colors of the lights are variable. So far we have witnessed purple, white, green and blue being tested.

A model at a presentation in 2009 by SHoP and Ellerbe Beckett, the joint architects of the arena showed illumination from most of the slots. Since that time some images of the arena have shown lights coming from the slots. However it was unclear they were LED lights. Rather the lights appeared to be coming from interior windows, increasing the illusion of transparency of the arena facade. There are not windows for much of the facade. No images found online of the arena show the slots with colors.


NoLandGrab: That's going to be hell for the pigeons.

Related coverage...

NoLandGrab, Barclays Center Arena exterior lights #1

Posted by eric at 10:57 PM

Sports Giant, Part Owner of Lakers, Weighs Sale

The Wall Street Journal
by Ethan Smith and Anupreeta Das

The Barclays Center's operational consultant may be for sale, before the arena even begins operations.

Anschutz Co. is considering a sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group, its powerhouse sports-and-entertainment subsidiary whose properties include a piece of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as sports teams, stadiums and music festivals around the world, according to people familiar with the matter.

A sale could be worth several billion dollars, these people said, but added that the deliberations remain early, and closely held Anschutz may not ultimately pursue a transaction.

Aside from its stake in the Lakers, AEG's sprawling empire includes the Barclays Center in New York, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the Coachella music festival, and the L.A. Galaxy professional soccer team, for which David Beckham plays.


Background (published October 17, 2011)...

SportsBusiness Daily, Brooklyn Sports signs AEG Facilities to help operate Barclays Center

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has signed a multiyear deal with AEG Facilities to provide operational support at Barclays Center, the New Jersey Nets’ arena under construction in Brooklyn.

The agreement falls in line with Brooklyn Sports’ strategy to find the best resources to operate New York’s first new arena in 43 years.

AEG has appointed Steve Rosebrook as vice president of operations and David Anderson as vice president of event and guest services. Both facility managers come from AEG properties and have experience operating NBA facilities. They report to John Sparks, Barclays Center’s general manager and an employee of Brooklyn Sports, the Nets’ arena management firm.

NoLandGrab: Whoops, no they don't. Sparks is already long gone.

Posted by eric at 9:24 PM

Atlantic Yards - It's a Crime! Schedule of Events for September 26, 27, 28, 29

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards – It’s A Crime!
Events on September 26, 27, 28, 29
Brooklyn Was Promised Much More Than An Arena

As Barclays Center Opens, Series of Events Highlights
Failures of Atlantic Yards and Demands for Change

Click through for the full roster of events.


Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

Brooklyn Holds Court: Barclays Center To Impact Surrounding Traffic And Businesses

by Tara Lynn Wagner

While business owners hope to turn sports fans and concert-goers at the new Barclays Center into customers, local residents are concerned about overcongestion. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

Selling out the Barclays Center is good news for Jay-Z but not necessarily for local Brooklynites. They say crossing the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue is already dangerous on foot and can take 20 minutes in a car.

"It's just going to be a nightmare because cars are going to be bottled up," says resident Julia Pacetti. "There are no really good sidewalks in that area to speak of. They are very narrow. I just don't think the roads and the sidewalks are going to be able to accommodate the cars and the people."

Greg Yerman, on the other hand, says he's happy to accommodate the new crowds. As the owner of two restaurants on Flatbush Avenue, he expects that an influx of 18,000 people will spice up business.

"If we can get even a small percentage of those butts in our seats, it would be a significant coup for us," he said.

While restaurant and bar owners prepare to cash in, other small business owners fear the new economic climate could force them to move out.

Their problem is that as the arena went up, so have the rental rates.

"Rental rates just about a year ago were in the $75, $80-a-foot range and we're now seeing rents approach $200 a foot in the immediate vicinity to the stadium," [commercial realtor Geoffrey] Bailey says.

article [with video]

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, NY1: residents may worry, but businesses mixed/optimistic about arena opening

Norman Oder sums up the story...

The gist:

  • a resident worries about traffic
  • a restaurant owner is hopeful
  • a commercial real estate broker says rents have gone up and more food-related businesses are coming
  • a barber thinks he'll be priced out
  • the Chamber of Commerce CEO promises cross-promotion with local businesses (though that hasn't been announced)

Missing: the reason this is a strain for neighbors is that the state overrode city zoning to place an arena within 200 feet of a residential district.

NoLandGrab: If only Oder could be that succinct with his own stories!

Posted by eric at 1:23 PM

New garbage cans, recycling bins appear around arena block; will they be sufficient?

Atlantic Yards Report

Developer Forest City Ratner has “agreed to adopt 16 public litter baskets and six public recycling bins on the perimeter of the [Barclays Center] and also on blocks between the facility and the parking lot,” a city Department of Sanitation official said earlier this month.

Neighbors have asked for much wider coverage than the places indicated in the map at right. (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

Coverage could increase after conditions are assessed--i.e., how much trash is on the ground in Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, and Boerum Hill.

Yesterday, some of the new litter baskets and recycling bins appeared. The recycling bins are big, the litter baskets small. I'd bet there will be a call for much larger garbage cans.


Photo by Tracy Collins from Sept. 5 community meeting

Posted by eric at 1:17 PM

Videos show short path from subway to arena plaza; straightest shots are Q/B and 2/3 northbound

Atlantic Yards Report

It's undeniable: public transportation is a very good way to get to the Barclays Center arena, and it must be a dream for the arena developers: it will deliver event-goers to the front door.

Below, some videos shot during yesterday morning's soft opening, tracking the rather brief path--at least, without a crowd--from some subway platforms to the surface, and back.

The concourses are wide, and, as Benjamin Kabak points out in Second Avenue Sagas, this will significantly improve pedestrian safety.

There are only two escalators--will they be going in just one direction before events?

Note that there's direct access to the Q/B/2/3/4/5 lines. Those aiming for the D/N/R have to go underground along a platform and then upstairs. Most likely, unless the weather's horrible, they'll take the streets.

Similarly, those heading for the Long Island Rail Road have a more direct route on the street, and would have to pay a fare--or use an unlimited ride MetroCard--to make it through the subway platforms.

Click through for some videos of the new station.


Posted by eric at 1:11 PM

Ahead of the arena, a new subway entrance for Atlantic Ave.

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

Subway nerd (and we mean that as a compliment) Ben Kabak reviews the brand-spanking-new Atlantic Av.—Pacific St. subway entrance.

Amidst little fanfare on Monday afternoon, the MTA opened up a new subway entrance. This isn’t just any old subway entrance. Rather, it is the subway entrance that leads to the Barclays Center, an arena that sits atop rail yards handed over by the MTA Board to Bruce Ratner for a well-below market rate of $100 million.

Over the years, the Atlantic Yards debacle has garnered more than its fair share of debate (and a very thorough website devoted to tracking the project in all its glory), but one element that has seemingly flown under the radar until recently concerns traffic, transportation and pedestrian flow around the arena. Simply put, the arena is in a terrible spot for pedestrian safety.

On its north side is a six-lane road that features cars speeding by at all hours of the day, and on the other side is a six-lane road that features cars speeding by at all hours of the day.


Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

The Culture of Cheating: Forest City gets the inside track with the MTA, then gets to revise the deal (though the MTA could have recognized its leverage)

Atlantic Yards Report

The spanking new Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway entrance is an undeniable asset to the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, and the city of New York. But in this public-private partnership, the subway station will serve arena patrons more than anybody--and Forest City Ratner won't pay for additional service.

Moreover, the key parts of the developer's transaction with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), notably the payment for development rights over the Vanderbilt Yard, and the subsequent development thereof, still wait, thanks in part to FCR's ability to get in on the ground floor in 2003 with no competition for years, then renegotiate the deal in 2009.

Did it have to be that way? Maybe not.

Yes, there’s a “fundamental asymmetry” in complex projects that favors a developer, because it “can generally leave the project and even the city while politicians cannot,” as planning professor Lynne Sagalyn warned in Times Square Roulette, her epic 2001 epic analysis of redevelopment.

With Atlantic Yards, however, the public had more power: Forest City was desperate to move the money-losing Nets from New Jersey into a profitable new arena, larded with luxury suites and sponsorships enabled by the country's richest media market, and to get tax-exempt bonds sold by the end of 2009.

Instead, when Forest City asked to renegotiate, the MTA, controlled by the governor and mayor, complied. This is the Culture of Cheating from another angle: less deception than an inside deal from the start.


Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

Videos: the Barclays Center Plaza, the parking lot, and "No Parking" ignored on Pacific

Atlantic Yards Report

Amateur videographer Norman Oder shot some megabytes of the latest conditions around the Barclays Center.

Some videos shot yesterday morning...

First, the Barclays Center Plaza, with traffic around it this morning. (The main part of the plaza, under the oculus, was still not open to the public.)

Click through for a couple more.


Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Weds, Sept 19, 6:30pm: Free Screening and Panel Discussion of Battle for Brooklyn

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Fifth Avenue Committee Invites you to a Panel Discussion and Special Screening of:

Battle for Brooklyn

Wednesday, September 19
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Old First Reformed Church
729 Carroll Street between 6th & 7th Avenues

With the Barclays Center arena less than two weeks from opening, and promised jobs and affordable housing nowhere in sight, the battle for accountability at Brooklyn's largest development project is just getting started. Join us to find out what we can do to make sure the future of Atlantic Yards won't be like the past.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with FAC's Executive Director Michelle de la Uz as moderator, Michael Galinsky, and Suki Hawley, producers of the documentary, Rev. Clinton Miller, Brown Memorial, Gib Veconi of BrooklynSpeaks and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, New York State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Councilwoman Letitia James (invited).


The screening is free.

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

September 17, 2012

Brooklyn Holds Court: Road To Barclays Center A Long One, Developer Says

by Jeanine Ramirez

Brooklyn is getting ready for a new era as it welcomes its first professional sports team since the Dodgers left town. All this week NY1 is taking a look at the impact of the Nets and the Barclays Center on the community, on the borough and on the national stage. In part one, Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez has an exclusive interview with the developer and a look at how the controversial project evolved.

The Barclays Center is getting its finishing touches and developer Bruce Ratner is happy with what he sees.

"Even I was a little surprised at how magnificent and beautiful it is. I almost started crying because it's been a long haul, a long time," says Ratner.

[Sniff, sniff.]

We're a little [sniff, sniff] choked up ourselves [sniff, sniff]. In fact, we need a moment to collect ourselves.

[Sniff, sniff.]

article [with video]

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner calls arena "public building," says "I think everyone right-thinking realizes that this was well worth it"

"I think everyone right-thinking realizes that this was well worth it," Ratner tells Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez, implicitly suggesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office, which called the arena a loss for the city, is wrong-thinking.

"That's the right place for a public building like this," Ratner tells his interviewer, which prompts some editorial pause:

But whether a privately owned arena is a public benefit sparked much debate and prompted lawsuits over the use of eminent domain.

The debate continues. After all, while the building may be open to the paying public, Ratner famously told Crain's New York Business 11/8/09, "Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."

Posted by eric at 10:11 PM

Community Sweepstakes for Barclays Center tickets Sept. 21, about a week after announcement; no plans yet regarding community-sponsored events

Atlantic Yards Report

About a week after a public announcement regarding community organizations--in Community Boards 2, 3, 6, & 8--eligible for Barclays Center tickets, the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) will hold its first "Community Tickets Program Sweepstakes."

The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 21, at the House of the Lord Church at 415 Atlantic Avenue. The DBNA is run by House of the Lord Presiding Minister Herbert Daughtry and seems to function as an army of the church.

Note that RSVPs for the event are due by Wednesday, Sept. 19, though it's not clear when applications are due for this first sweepstakes. Applications for the overall program are due 11/30/12.

It seems to me that organizations with advance notice of the DBNA's plans would have been far better prepared to enter the sweepstakes. I also suspect that some organizations outside those four community boards will make a case that they should be eligible for the sweepstakes, as well.


NoLandGrab: Let us take this opportunity to remind the DBNA that a sweepstakes is defined as a game of chance — not a game of "to whom do we and Bruce owe a favor."

Posted by eric at 10:01 PM

Is Barclays Center (Still) Ugly? [POLL]

As Sept. 28 opening draws near, revisiting a question on the arena's aesthetics.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Back in March, Patch asked readers what seemed to be an innocuous question: Is Barclays Center Ugly?

Since then, we received 31 comments and 419 votes, with a majority of the passionate opinion (and we're paraphrasing here) that, yes, the new home of the Brooklyn Nets was most displeasing to the eye.

However, like it or not, the arena has continued to march ever closer to its Sept. 28 completion target date.

Now with the installation of Barclays' distinctive rusted steel panels, oculus and sky blue signage mostly complete, here's a chance to revisit the question—albeit, with a minor twist:

Is the Barclays Center (Still) Ugly?


A Patch commenter also notes:

...the pigeons seem to love nesting inside that metal skin... The workers have been cleaning the glass weekly because of the pigeon poop...if you ride by you can see the pigeons hanging out on top of and inside the perforated metallic skin... Take a close look next time you go by.

Posted by eric at 9:54 PM

New Subway Exit Opens Near Barclays Center


Subway riders now have a direct route to the Barclays Center in place. A new exit at the Atlantic Avenue subway station opened Monday morning and leads directly to the entrance of the new arena.

The new station includes a 30,000-square-foot plaza lined with paving stones, benches and greenery.

While some locals are excited about the $76 million station, others say they're concerned.

"I live in the neigborhood and I'm worried that with the Barclays Center opening, there's gonna be way more people here and it's gonna be a lot harder for me to get home," said one.


Posted by eric at 9:50 PM

Klores' Brooklyn basketball essay in Times has glaring omission: Oder

NY Daily News Sports ITeam Blog
by Michael O'Keeffe

Sounds like Atlantic Yards Report blogger Norman Oder really liked Dan Klores' sweeping essay on Brooklyn and basketball in Sunday’s New York Times. But Oder also points out a glaring omission in the piece.

Klores, identified as a “Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and playwright,” is also the founder and chairman of the public relations firm that has represented Forest City Ratner, the company behind the Nets’ Barclays Center, since the Atlantic Yards project was first announced.


Posted by eric at 9:44 PM

Brooklyn/L magazines: "50 Things You Should Know about the Brooklyn Nets" (and the magic of ad support)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Fall 2012 issue of Brooklyn Magazine contains three pages of "50 Things You Should Know about the Brooklyn Nets," including tidbits conveyed in Nets advertising (Brook Lopez is "Batman's Biggest Fan") and that Brooklyn businesses Nathan's and Junior's will sell food at the Barclays Center arena.

One online commenter adds, "51. Barclays Center, is the web re-launch sponsor of Brooklyn magazine, hence the puff piece."

Also note the advertisement (right) on the facing page of the article, as it appears in print.

The list also appears in The L Magazine.


Related content...

Brooklyn Magazine, 50 Things You Should Know about the Brooklyn Nets

Here are some of the choice tidbits:

NO. 9 Not all Brooklyn Nets marry Kardashians. Forward Shelden Williams (#33) is married to WNBA star (and Olympian!) Candace Parker, who was also the first woman ever to win a slam dunk contest.

NO. 10 Williams was also a member of the National Honors Society. [UPDATE: Shelden Williams signed a professional contract in France, on August 28th, after the print issue in which this story first appeared went to press]


Posted by eric at 8:44 PM

NY Times Runs 3rd Article Mentioning That, Given Scandal, Promotionally Naming Subway Stations & Arena “Barclays” Is Problematic

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White follows up on today's City Room article about the MTA selling ad space — and naming rights.

Today the New York Times ran its third article including a mention of an obvious elephant in the media stream world: That promotionally christening of MTA subway stations and the heavily susbisidized Forest City Ratner/Mikhail Prokhorov “Barclays,” the name of the British Bank whose name is virtually synonymous with the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal of which that bank is a big part, could be awkward. See: New Territory for Ads, With a Moving Target, by David W. Dunlap, September 16, 2012.

Barclays may, indeed, go out of business but professor Vaidhyanathan’s other “what if” is just a tad off: Barclays has already entered into a £290m ($450m) fine agreement with the United States and Great Britain for manipulating LIBOR rates. Its manipulation is already acknowledged by that agreement and the payment of the fine, but one purpose of the bank’s payment of that fine was to preclude criminal prosecution and conviction of the bank. Nevertheless, Barclays traders and possibly Barclays executives are likely to be criminally prosecuted, possibly convicted, separately.

Notwithstanding that this is the third Times article with a conceding mentioning that the publicly-financed parading of the “Barclays” name is obviously awkward, the sober observance of that fact in three articles is far outweighed by the many more celebratory articles the Times is running about the opening of the new “Barclays” center including the one featured on the front page of its special-edition Sunday Styles Magazine proclaiming Jay-Z in its front-cover caption to be civic-minded for promoting the arena, scandalous history and scandalous name “Barclays” name notwithstanding.

The Times has launched into its promotions without mention of its business relationship with the arena’s developer. Furthermore, the Times’ relentless promotion of the developer/subsidy collector’s Atlantic Yards from its unveiling forward probably tipped the balance for the materialization of a boondoggle that is costly to the public in so many ways. Such being the “Times Effect” on this issue, the clever casualness of the article’s conclusion equating of the naming of the subway transit hubs after “Barclays” with the naming of “Times Square” could be considered somewhat chilling- because there is less coincidence than implied:

Alternately, however, what if the bank and the new name show some staying power? After all, “Times Square” seems to have caught on.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, In Times article on MTA advertising, a willingness to downplay the Barclays taint

The close of a New York Times article today, published online as New Territory for Ads, With a Moving Target:

Professor [Siva] Vaidhyanathan, for one, would like to see some more restraint. He bristled at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center name. “What happens if Barclays is convicted of massive fraud in the Libor scandal?” he asked. “What happens if Barclays goes out of business?” Alternately, however, what if the bank and the new name show some staying power? After all, “Times Square” seems to have caught on.

That's a little pat, isn't it? First of all, the naming rights agreement is only for 20 years. Second, Vaidhyanathan, despite his criticism, was a little generous: Barclays doesn't need to be convicted to be tainted. It's already paid some $450 million in fines.

Posted by eric at 8:22 PM

Truck violations increase while enforcement stays away

Atlantic Yards Watch

Atlantic Yards Watch publishes an extensive rundown of the traffic and trucking nightmare also known as the Barclays Center.

Over the last month changes to the way truck deliveries take place at Barclays Center have increased meaningfully the number of violations of NYC law, the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and Barclays Center Truck Delivery Rules and Requirements. With apparently no enforcement taking place, the consequence is a wide range of adverse impacts on the community: trucks idling for long periods; use of unauthorized truck routes; and blocking of bus lanes, bike lanes, no standing zones and travel lanes. Travel and the quality of life on Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th Avenue is particularly affected.

The violations have steadily increased through the summer, first as the method for processing construction trucks became impractical and at times impossible, and second with the introduction of truck deliveries to facilitate arena operations. Although no new rules for truck behavior have been posted on the ESDC website or listed in the bi-weekly construction alerts, trucks now queue and stage on a public street with residences instead of the privatized section of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues.

A key change occured a week or so ago when FCRC took control of the arena from construction contractors and began operating the loading dock. The photos above and to the right from Thursday, September 12th show On-site Environmental Monitor Adam Schwartz directing a delivery truck backward into the arena site while an ambulance with flashing lights waits.

NYPD officers appear not to be ticketing trucks idling or parked illegally, and one traffic enforcement officer elsewhere on the site, shown a truck parked in a bike lane, challenged this writer to tell her exactly what trucks are supposed to do: "after all, the area is under construction."


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch documents Culture of Cheating: increased truck violations, with no enforcement, as arena construction hits crunch time

As the completion of the Barclays Center arena hits the final stretch, procedures aimed at protecting the community fall off even faster.

Last week, as I wrote, Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner went on Bloomberg television and insisted that his firm was following construction protocols in building the arena.

I suggested the truth was otherwise, and Atlantic Yards Watch, in Truck violations increase while enforcement stays away, offers exhaustive documentation.

A warning for the future

The record bodes ill for actual operation of the arena, as residents have been told that delivery trucks will be scheduled to avoid idling in the street.

However, as Atlantic Yards Watch reports, "drivers either wait near the arena or drive to the closest location they can find to pull over, regardless of its proximity to residences. They then sit in their trucks to wait, sometimes with their engines idling."

Not only is there no capacity for trucks to queue, the drivers tell AYW they "are given little or no instruction before they come or once they arrive."

NoLandGrab: This giant clusterf**k is brought to you by the letters F, C and R — and E, S, D & C.

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Barclays Center Arena exterior lights #1

Tracy Collins via YouTube


Related content...

Tracy Collins via YouTube, Barclays Center Arena exterior lights #2

Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

The Culture of Cheating: Forest City's effort, through Kruger, to get taxpayer money to rebuild the Carlton Avenue Bridge

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how a Forest City Ratner executive, asked in July 2009 if the would seek more subsidies, responded, “Forest City does not expect to ask for more subsidy?" Not only did Executive VP later request $10 million more in housing subsidies, so too did Executive VP Bruce Bender try to get state funds to repair the Carlton Avenue Bridge the developer was supposed to fund.

The corruption charges that surfaced in March 2011 against then-state Senator (and now-imprisoned) Carl Kruger portrayed a chummy relationship between Kruger and Bender, who not only tried to get money for the bride but also for the Lakeside Center project in Prospect Park. (Bender's wife is on the Board of Directors of the Prospect Park Alliance.)

Though the conversation between Kruger and Bender occurred in December 2010, the charges cast in new light some of Kruger's over-the-top support for Atlantic Yards, including his Brooklyn aria at an August 2006 environmental review hearing and his accusation in May 2009 of Metropolitan Transportation Authority intransigence regarding a renegotiation of the Vanderbilt Yard deal.

And they showed Forest City's relentless--if, in this case, unsuccessful--push to offload its obligations on the public. That's savvy business, but its closer to the "culture of cheating" than to "civic developer" status that Bruce Ratner professes.


Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

In the Boroughs: Biz eyes kick from soccer

But park advocates wary of Flushing Meadows stadium.

Crain's NY Business
by Amanda Fung

New York City has green space out the wazoo, right? But what we don't have enough of is publicly subsidized sports stadiums.

The prospect of a big new soccer venue coming to Queens' largest park—the site of two World's Fairs—is winning the thumbs-up from everyone from soccer fans and local business owners to community and elected officials. But already, park advocates are up in arms over the possible loss of public space for yet another sports stadium. Nearby, the U.S. Tennis Association took 42 acres out of circulation for its three stadiums, the last of which was completed in 1997. At this point, however, it looks as though soccer's supporters have the upper hand.

"The stadium will create jobs and bring money to the shops and restaurants in the area," said Assemblyman Francisco Moya, a soccer fanatic who learned how to play at Flushing Meadows with his friends as a kid, and is today actively involved in negotiations to bring the stadium to the park. "It's a win-win for Queens. Rarely does a project come along that is beneficial to the local community and city."

He got that last part right, at least.

"They need to find a home for the stadium that does not displace valuable parkland," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. "We have seen many acres of park taken away for commercial purposes."

"I believe Major League Soccer intends to do the right thing when it comes to parkland," said Mr. Moya. "I am optimistic."

Not to mention a fool.


Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

Arena gets belated TCO, two weeks before opening; work on retail stores remains; exterior photos show progress

Atlantic Yards Report

On Friday, Sept. 14, the Barclays Center finally got a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO), from the NYC Department of Buildings, nine days after it had been promised for months, and more than a month after it was once expected.

That gives the arena developers exactly two weeks to get the building in shape for the first public event, the Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28. And that explains why there are double shifts and weekend work (and the Culture of Cheating).

As I wrote 9/6/12, the once-planned "public events and tours" to "welcome and introduce the Brooklyn community to its new building" seem to be off the table. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Friday, Sept. 21, and an event for season-ticket holders on Monday, Sept. 24.

Not everything will be ready.


Photo: Atlantic Yards Report

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

Ad-Supported ATMs Expand in NYC

ABC News
by Susanna Kim

A small start-up called FreeATM Inc. and the Barclays Center stadium of Brooklyn, N.Y. are partnering to bring ATMs with no fees to New York City.

The Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets and oft-used concert venue, will have seven ATMs on Sept. 28, including one which provides access to the public who are not attending an event.

"Oft-used concert venue?" The place isn't open yet.

Instead of paying an ATM fee, typically $2 or $3 when you use a machine outside of your bank’s ATM network, FreeATM machines are supported by advertising.

The Barclays Center ATMs are expected to distribute $5 million in cash in its first year.


NoLandGrab: To pay for all those $10 beers.

Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

What's the Deal

Triangle Building Sold

The Wall Street Journal
by Laura Kusisto

Just a couple of weeks before the opening of Brooklyn's new Barclays Center, the Triangle Building, a 96-year-old neighborhood mainstay across the street from the new arena, has sold to a Brooklyn-based investment firm.

RedSky Capital LLC paid $4.1 million, or $900 a square foot, for the building at the intersection of Flatbush and Fifth avenues that's housed Triangle Sports a retailer of shoes and sporting goods.

Officials with RedSky declined to comment. But Ofer Cohen, a broker at TerraCRG, which arranged the sale, said the new owner is "exploring unique retail uses that can take advantage of the visibility and exposure of the property."

Some neighborhood residents have objected that nightlife establishments are taking the place of neighborhood spots, but Mr. Cohen, of TerraCRG, insists that won't be the case here. "Part of [the new owners'] vision is to make it a very Brooklyn-type use, to stay true to the Brooklyn authenticity," Mr. Cohen says.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Triangle Building sells for $4.1 million; ad-supported free ATMs at Barclays

Just enough authenticity, I'd bet, to make sure they earn back their investment.

There was no timetable announced for an opening, but the new retail outlet obviously won't be open when the Barclays Center opens across the street on Sept. 28.

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Crime Report: Teen Arrested in iPhone Theft Spree

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

They must've learned the ol' misdirection game from Bruce Ratner's "Jobs, Housing & Hoops" scam.

Check-Out Fake-Out

A pair of crooks stole a 23-year-old woman’s wallet while she tried to work the self-check-out machine at the Atlantic Center Pathmark around 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 9, police said. The woman told cops she placed her wallet down to check out her groceries when one person distracted her and another grabbed her wallet. Her wallet held $20 in cash, as well as a Capital One card, a TD Bank debit card and an American Express card, according to cops.

The woman canceled her cards before any unauthorized purchases could be made, police said.


Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

The Net Effect on Sports, Economy and Community

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Michael Randazzo

The Brooklyn Public Library, which infamously wouldn't display a painted portrait of Daniel Goldstein it termed "hagiographic," had no problem hosting a one-sided panel discussion entitled "Sports and the Economy: A Win-Win for Brooklyn."

With the Barclays Center set to open Sept. 28, the Brooklyn Public Library hosted a panel discussion Wednesday called, “Sports and the Economy: A Win-Win for Brooklyn,” focusing on the overlap of sports, business and community.

In the event’s lead-off spot was Borough President Marty Markowitz, who trumpeted what he considers his signature accomplishment: returning the Nets to New York.

The panel examined how the business of professional sports meshes with the complex demographics of the city’s largest and most economically diverse borough. Mr. Mierswa touted the Barclays Center as the culmination of the Nets’ carefully orchestrated efforts to build community. He mentioned numerous examples of local connections, from donating money to neighborhood playgrounds to supporting such institutions as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.


NoLandGrab: One slanted panel's win-win is another Independent Budget Office's net loss for taxpayers.

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov opens up about rap, Jay Z, women and more in October issue of DETAILS magazine

Nets' billionaire owner on rapping with Jay Z: 'I could cause irreparable damage to his professional career'

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

Prokhorov won't be kicking any rhymes at Jay Z's concert on Sept. 28, but he is attending next week's ribbon cutting ceremony at the Barclays Center. And after purchasing the Nets for $200 million three years ago, his investment is expected to skyrocket in value with the team moving to Brooklyn. Prokhorov has estimated the franchise will be worth $1 billion in 2015 (even though he'll likely be faced with stiff luxury tax penalties, considering he handed out over $300 million in contracts this offseason alone).

Whether or not one of Russia's most eligible bachelors finds a woman worth marrying, don't expect him to feel heartbroken or nostalgic. Ever.

"The word miss is not part of my vocabulary," he said when asked if there's anything he'll miss about the Nets former home of New Jersey.


Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

New Territory for Ads, With a Moving Target

City Room
by David W. Dunlap

Then there are naming rights: for $200,000 a year, the authority has added the designation “Barclays Center” to the name of the Atlantic Avenue stations in Brooklyn. The measure is one part customer service — the new arena by that name is a block away — and two parts marketing, as the arena and stations now carry the name of a giant international financial services company.

But revenues come with a cost of their own, suggested Siva Vaidhyanathan, the chairman of the media studies department at the University of Virginia.

Professor Vaidhyanathan, for one, would like to see some more restraint. He bristled at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center name. “What happens if Barclays is convicted of massive fraud in the Libor scandal?” he asked. “What happens if Barclays goes out of business?”


Posted by eric at 10:53 AM

How Brooklyn Businesses REALLY Feel About The Barclays Center

Business Insider
by Shlomo Sprung

As Brooklyn braces for the long-awaited opening of the $1 billion Barclays Center on September 28, the area around the new arena is quickly changing.

New businesses are coming in, rents are going up and many of the old businesses are being forced to close their doors.

While many outsiders view the arena opening as positive, there is a lot of worry among local business owners, who are concerned they may not be able to withstand downtown Brooklyn's shift from a bustling residential area to a super-busy urban hub with an arena that will draw millions of visitors.

We recently walked around the neighborhood and spoke with local business owners to see how they're being impacted by the new arena.


Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

New York’s Barclays Center Opens Just In Time For Jay-Z Concert!

by Molly Cotter

The ribbon-cutting scissors better be extra large for this one because the scheduled officials to make the announcement are FCRC Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner; NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; Barclays Executive Chairman of the Americas Thomas L. Kalaris; and Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Phew!


Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

September 16, 2012

UniWatch's Lukas: opposes arena, likes idea of Brooklyn having a team; no fan of logo but approves herringbone floor

Atlantic Yards Report

UniWatch's Paul Lukas takes questions from readers:

As a Brooklyn resident, what’s your opinion on the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and their chance of taking a nick out of the Knicks’ fan base?
Although I’m strongly opposed to the new arena, I’m into the idea of Brooklyn having its own team. Should be interesting to see how the Knicks/Nets dynamic evolves. There are definitely enough fans in the city to support two teams, and I think the rivalry (if one develops) will be good for both franchises.

I suspect there multiple sets of opinions: not merely like/hate arena and like/hate team, but like/hate arena design and like/hate arena placement. Some people like the design but don't like the placement.

Lukas wrote 5/1/12:

I’m about to mark my 25th anniversary of moving to Brooklyn (plus both my parents grew up in Brooklyn), so I care deeply about the borough and am generally in favor of having a major-level team here. Like I’ve always said, sports teams are civic enterprises as much as they’re business enterprises, so I dig the civic aspect of a team with “Brooklyn” on its chest.
But I’ve been very, very opposed to the new arena (about nine blocks from where I live) and its associated development project. It’s in a terrible location that will bring loads of traffic and congestion to a spot that’s already overburdened, it’s a financial boondoggle, it has forced people out of their homes, it’s not providing as many jobs as had been promised (happy May Day!), and on and on. It’s a fucking disaster, and I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

He called the new logo "really, really plain" but thinks the new herringbone floor--a departure for the NBA and an effort to brand the Barclays Center the way the Boston Celtics have a parquet floor--"looks pretty nice."


Posted by steve at 5:25 PM

Barclays Center listed in NRDC report as among the "latest green building leaders in professional sports"; does it have "best connection to public transit"?

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center is listed as among the "latest green building leaders in professional sports," according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Game Changer: How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment

The text, based on press releases, notes that the arena is pursuing LEED Silver certification and is the "arena with the best connection to public transit."

Maybe that's compared to the "latest" buildings, but I don't think the Barclays Center tops Madison Square Garden.

Note that while the Brooklyn arena offers a convoluted direct connection to the Long Island Railroad, those without unlimited ride MetroCards would have to pay a fare to enter the subway system, go downstairs, and then go upstairs to the LIRR.


Posted by steve at 5:23 PM

In Sohn's Motherland, a film called Atlantic Yards (which differs from the film in PPW)

Atlantic Yards Report

Amy Sohn's dishy, satirical Motherland, a high-end soap opera set mostly in Park Slope and drenched in local detail (reviews here and here) and dark views of parenthood and marriage, has recurring references to a film called Atlantic Yards.

The film seems to have morphed from its description in the prequel, Prospect Park West, as "a thriller about gentrification and terrorism" with "a terror cell run out of a muffin shop, and a corrupt borough president funneling money to the terrorists, and then there's this weathered Seventy-eighth Precinct cop who catches on to the scheme and winds up saving the day."

Rest assured, it's not based on the actual story of Brooklyn's most controversial development project--after all, Brooklyn's current Borough President has his ethical challenges, but he's no cokehead. But the new description is kind of ominous nonetheless: The gentrification blues


Sohn's good at referencing the class and style signifiers of gentrification, as well as registering generational frustration. One veteran Park Sloper thinks:

It was a strange feeling to live in a neighborhood you could no longer afford. You were the reason values had gone up, and yet you were invisible.

In another passage, a woman who runs a chi-chi store on gentrifying Fourth Avenue reflects on her mixed feelings:

Hipsters now did beer runs on bicycles to the bars up and down the avenue. The Nets arena was going through; they had already broken ground and you could see it rising as you passed. Poor people would soon be booted out to make way for high-end retail shops. Rebecca had been part of the transformation, but it was taking off on its own. You walked down the same street a thousand times, and then one day, everything was different.

Just for the record, such trends, however representative of broader societal shifts, are also driven by policy: the state's override of city zoning to permit the arena, and the city's re-zoning of Fourth Avenue.


Posted by steve at 5:17 PM

BK hoops essayist (and Forest City contractor) Klores: Ratner "cannot share the depth of the Brooklyn soul" but it "hardly matters," because he and allies "have brought us a triumph"

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a nice essay about the roots of Brooklyn basketball in the Times Sports section today headlined The Brooklyn Game Had Its Own Beat, by Dan Klores, described as "a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and playwright. His first film was 'The Boys of Second Street Park.'”

Unmentioned is that Klores is also the founder and chairman of dkc Public Relations, Marketing & Government Affairs, which just so happens to have Forest City Ratner as a client. And though Klores on the one hand suggests that pro hoops can never compete with the real rooted Brooklyn game, he also ultimately gives his clients major props and suggests--in a vision most commonly experienced by men of a certain age--that the Brooklyn Nets can replace the loss of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

His essay concludes:

So now, here are the Brooklyn Nets, an idea hatched out of another vision, a real estate deal, and promoted with the all-consuming vigor of a tummler borough president, Marty Markowitz. On Nov. 1, they will become a grand and appropriate replacement for a gaping loss, a sense of revenge, a concept in the psyche of all true Brooklynites.

No doubt, the arena will be filled. But when all the noise dies down, the child walking into the gym, ball in hand, alone, ready to bank his first shot off the board, that is still the point of the game and its people. Much has changed. The sounds of Jay-Z have replaced Little Anthony and The Tokens. Yiddish and Italian are now Creole and Russian. The transistor has died. Even Spike Lee’s Radio Raheem is 23 years gone. Neighborhoods filled with junkies and hookers where the White Rose was the place to cop are now buzzin’ trendy. The walk from park to park in search of proving yourself is no more. Now kids get free shirts from sponsors, endure the desperate hopes and anger from their fathers to make it in the nasty A.A.U. world in which thug “coaches” rant and rave, juice birth certificates and believe the game is merely about “pressure, pressure.”

In the new Brooklyn, the argument of the day revolves around baby strollers, while the real Brooklynite still waits for the bus to get to work. The new Brooklyn doesn’t know that only 10 years ago, hailing a yellow cab home from “the city” was a test of creativity and guts. “Yeah, well, I’m already inside so whattaya gonna do about it?” Banks and nail salons have replaced the record store and the shoemaker. The scheduled play date will hopefully at least result in, “I’ll be Deron, you can be Amaré.”

Dreamers and doers, though, win out. You can’t get one without the other. So here comes a new 18,000-seat arena. It hardly matters that an outsider, Bruce Ratner, from Cleveland, created the concept but cannot share the depth of the Brooklyn soul. Nor can the Nets’ new owner, Mikhail Prokhorov from Moscow, nor General Manager Billy King, nor even the cerebral coach Avery Johnson.

Still, they have brought us a triumph that related to the gut of all Brooklyn b-ballers: be proud and play to win.


Posted by steve at 5:14 PM

Can Barclays Center plaza become the Brooklyn equivalent of the Grand Central Station clock? Only in part

Atlantic Yards Report

From NY1 yesterday, 9/14/12, Barclays Center Offers Glimpse Of New Transit Hub:

Arena developers paid $4 million for the next 20 years for the naming rights for the station, whose doorstep is a 30,000 square foot open space plaza lined with paving stones, benches and greenery.

"We love the plaza. We think it becomes in some ways the new clock, the grand central clock for many people in Brooklyn," [Forest City Ratner Executive VP] Gilmartin said.

Can the Barclays Center plaza serve as the Brooklyn equivalent of the Grand Central Station clock, a meeting place and dispatch point?

Only in part. First, it's not (obviously) a year-round destination; the Urban Room, the atrium that was supposed to be there, had more of a chance.

Second, however convenient the stairs to the transit hub, it's not the most direct path to all the subway platforms, nor the Long Island Rail Road.

Third, the adjoining streets, Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, promise to be rather busy, which means lingering at the plaza will become that less enjoyable.

That said, it should become a gathering place, at least in better weather. And if it's "programmed," with attractions and events, that would draw more people and give them a reason to stay.


Posted by steve at 5:11 PM

Brooklyn Rail's Hamm: an eyesore arena named for a crooked bank, but "I’m trying to figure out how to come to terms with it" (and the logos are "pretty cool")

Atlantic Yards Report

From Ted Hamm's CityNotes column in The Brooklyn Rail's September 2012 issue, This Is It?:

It was a hot afternoon in July when I first felt the sting. As I approached my destination on the D train, the conductor announced the stop’s new name, “Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center.” And sure enough, when I got off, the new signs on the platform were there to greet me. With little fanfare, a crooked bank had made its imprint on the most central subway stop in Brooklyn. Ouch.
The sensory impact of Barclays is just a bit larger above ground, of course. The choice of baby blue for the enormous sign on the new arena merely adds injury to the insulting use of rusty beams. In an unintentionally satirical piece in the Times, Elizabeth Harris managed to find a few admirers of the prematurely decayed aesthetic. Meanwhile, over the summer I asked at least a couple dozen folks to share their views regarding the new arena’s exterior. Rest assured that they unanimously offered variations on the immortal words of Ignatius J. Reilly: the design is indeed “a most egregious offense against taste and decency.”
Another Ratner eyesore has thus grown in Brooklyn. We don’t need Nostradamus to tell us that traffic and parking will be a nightmare, or that if everyone miraculously does take public transportation, the Atlantic Terminal and adjoining subway station will be complete chaos for the many thousands of people just going about their business. Coney Island was once seen as the preferred site for the arena by Marty Markowitz and many planners, and to this day Coney needs a year-round draw. If the Barclays Center turns downtown into a perpetual cluster-you-know-what, many folks will be longing for the road not taken.
Still and yet, I am conflicted. The arena ain’t going nowhere in the near future. My tax dollars and yours went into building it, so I’m trying to figure out how to come to terms with it. And though I’m not a Nets fan, I must admit that I find the black-and-white team logos and gear to be pretty cool. At the risk of sounding too bipartisan, I can thus understand why many folks are excited, and others dismayed, about the arena. I’m just hoping that everyone gets out of my way when I’m trying to get home.

Sure, I understand why many folks are excited, too. And I suspect that those using the arena will like it--well, at least when they get the kinks worked out.

At the same time, I also suspect that a good number of neighbors previously un-roused by the project will, by necessity, become more civically active.


Posted by steve at 5:07 PM

September 15, 2012

Atlantic Yards Deep Thoughts: Big Gulp and Mayor Bloomberg Logic Edition

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Apparently Big Gulps are bad, and Big Land Grabs are good.


Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

September 14, 2012

The Culture of Cheating: Nets/arena CEO Yormark says "what I'm most proud of is the cultural fit for Barclays" (unmentioned: the LIBOR scandal)

Atlantic Yards Report

An exchange in a 9/11/12 Billboard Q&A, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark on the Brooklyn Brand, Jay-Z, $1 Billion Building, has some unintended resonance regarding the "culture of cheating" and the elephant in the room: dishonest behavior by Barclays.

A big part of this project is the 20-year naming rights deal with Barclays. How much did it mean to you to get that deal done?
*That's a great question, because when I look back on my career, it's probably one of those top two or three highlights... There were a lot of doubters, but they weren't doubting my ability, they were doubting because of all the planned new buildings in the market... They're like, "you're the last one to get yours, so you're probably going to need some help." They doubted the project, the merits of Brooklyn, lots of different things. And we nailed it. For me, what I'm most proud of is the cultural fit for Barclays.
(Emphasis added)

Tell me about that, it just seems so unlikely.
You can either do it for the money or you can do it for the partnerships, and thankfully, in our case we did it for both reasons. Financially, they made a very appealing offer to us, but more important than the financials is, we just believed in Barclays and Barclays believed in us, and that goes to the highest levels.

Of course, Yormark was talking about commerce, about branding Brooklyn, about mutual promotion.

But think about it: "the cultural fit for Barclays."

If Atlantic Yards, as I've contended, represents the "culture of cheating," then isn't Barclays a perfect fit?


Posted by eric at 12:35 PM

First look at the $76 million Barclays Center subway station

A new station where Flatbush meets Atlantic in downtown Brooklyn will connect subway travelers on nine lines to the Barclays Center.

NY Daily News
by Jason Sheftell

Life is about moments. So is New York City. The first time you see a doorman in a top hat and tails in front of the Plaza Hotel. When you lay eyes on the Statue of Liberty. Every time you take the Long Island Expressway to the Midtown Tunnel and the skyline opens up before you. Yankee Stadium. Landing at LaGuardia.

There’s a new one. Opening this Monday at 8 a.m., subway travelers on nine lines will be able to walk up the stairs of a new station where Flatbush meets Atlantic in downtown Brooklyn and see the rusted metal oculus of Barclays Center spread before them like a moment in a science-fiction film. It’s as grand as Lincoln Center, as Brooklyn as the Boys of Summer, and as New York as a skyscraper.

No hyperbole there.

When empty, the new subway station feels like a movie set. Think “Planet of the Apes.”

You damned, dirty Ratner!

“We want this to be magical,” says Gilmartin, who has been with FCRC since 1994 and handles its key negotiations and development execution. “The canopy, oculus, all of this is part of what will define Brooklyn for the next century.


NoLandGrab: The next century? It's already rusting. If arena's were built to last a century, Madison Square Garden would still be in Madison Square.

Photo: Jeff Bachner/NY Daily News

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily News gets first look at new subway entrance opening Monday, accepts Forest City's claims about budget and timing; exec claims they don't want anyone driving to arena

Sycophantic Daily News Real Estate correspondent Jason Sheftell gets the exclusive look at the new subway entrance serving the Barclays Center arena that opens Monday morning--yes, it's an impressive addition, but a clearly self-serving one, especially given the revisionist mythology described below.

And Sheftell delivers.

He continues:

It cost $76 million. No, it’s not paved in gold. But not a cent of it came from taxpayers’ pockets. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the developer of the arena, the housing around it, MetroTech and Atlantic Center Mall, agreed to pay for the station as part of financing in return for the air rights from the MTA above the arena’s plaza, where one day a world-class commercial building could stand.

Hold on. Maybe Forest City spent $76 million, in their accounting. The contract for the station is $57.8 million, according to a report from the construction monitor for arena bondholders.

And of course taxpayers helped: Forest City's commitment to build this was part of why the MTA accepted a $100 million cash bid for development rights for the Vanderbilt Yard--not just the area above the plaza--at less than half the appraised value.

Sheftell quotes Forest City Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin: "The new entrance is the key component to making this arena work. Under no circumstances do we want anyone driving to the arena, ever.”

Ever? Is that why the Barclays Center website includes a link to prepaid parking?

NLG: And why they're building a giant surface parking lot on Dean Street?

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

Ticket program announced for arena events, managed by Daughtry's DBNA; will be aimed at organizations in CBs 2, 3, 6, & 8

Atlantic Yards Report

Community organizations--well, some of them, limited to four community districts near the Barclays Center--will be eligible for 50+ free tickets for various arena events, not just--as first believed--Nets games, via a sweepstakes.

Great! NoLandGrab would like the suite for Streisand, The Stones, and Dylan. Email us when the tickets are ready and we'll send someone over to pick them up.

It's unclear which events, but presumably there will be more available for college basketball, gospel, and games against bottom-dwellers than Nets vs. Knicks.

The organization in charge is the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), led by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, and, as far as I can tell, essentially a subgroup of his church.

(The DBNA officers are apparently church members; though they're not listed on the web site, they are listed on IRS filings. According to the most recent Form 990, from the year 2010, the DBNA had received more than $700,000 in support over the previous five years. The donor is not specified, but the lion's share, if not all, almost surely comes from Forest City Ratner.)

Not only will the DBNA manage the ticket giveaway, Daughtry has long championed a chapel-like meditation room, 150 square feet.

They're calling it the "Meditation Closet."

His organization also will be in charge of "a Project Gallery for documenting and celebrating the creation of the CBA [Community Benefits Agreement]," which will be an interesting challenge, because all of the CBA signatories accept money from the developer, not a best practice in CBA circles, and several are silent to the point of moribund.


Related content...

Press Release via Brooklyn News Corp, Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance Announces Community Tickets Program for Events at Barclays Center

Posted by eric at 11:58 AM

Sports Plan Faces Fight

Community Opposition Swells in Queens Over Proposal for New Arenas and Mall

The Wall Street Journal
by Laura Kusisto

An ambitious Bloomberg administration plan to remake a corner of Queens with two professional-league sports arenas and a roughly 1-million-square-foot mall is meeting with unexpected and growing opposition that could stymie the effort.

Although the projects are separate from each other, they are all in or near Flushing Meadows Corona Park and have roiled groups that accuse the city of eroding green space without considering the impact of an influx of traffic and thousands of new spectators and shoppers.

Importantly, the coalition of about a half-dozen groups has the initial support of the local City Council member—who, in the tradition of the council, has almost unilateral power to hold up necessary approvals.

Just like with Atlantic Yards, where Council Member Letitia James... oh, wait a minute.

The challenge could stall the projects, which are among Mayor Michael Bloomberg's signature development plans: an 8,000-seat U.S. Tennis Association stadium, a possible 25,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium—both in the park—and the mall on a gritty swath near Citi Field, across from the park.

A Bloomberg spokesperson said the projects are vital to reviving the area. "In all of our conversations with Queens community groups, we hear the same message consistently: the borough needs more jobs and economic activity. These projects would meet that need in spectacular fashion and provide employment to thousands of Queens residents," said spokeswoman Julie Wood.

And surely they're clamoring for less park space, which New York has in spades, right?


Related coverage...

Curbed, Flushing Sports Arenas: the Barclays Center of Queens?

It's a familiar story: local residents are speaking out against a plan to bring a new sports arena to their neighborhood. But instead of the middle of Brooklyn, this is the biggest park in Queens. And instead of one NBA arena, it's two sports arenas.

All of the plans are a ways away from even breaking ground, but clearly the local fight is picking up steam. Will the people have Queens have more power than the anti-Barclays Brooklynites?

Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

My Atlantic Yards tour, September 23, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Municipal Art Society's list of tours: Sunday, September 23, Urban Debate: Atlantic Yards:

11:00 AM - Atlantic Yards Report watchdog journalist Norman Oder leads a walk around and beyond the controversial Atlantic Yards site, home to the new Barclays Center arena, opening on September 28. While visiting Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, Oder will discuss the history and future of the ambitious project (announced in 2003 and aimed to include 16 towers), the debates over urban design, architecture, public process, and eminent domain, and the challenge of fitting an arena into a site which offers excellent public transit access but also encroaches on an established neighborhood. Cost: $20 / $15 Members.

Note: tickets are limited; the location is provided when you pay.


Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

Bloomberg's Soda Ban Victory Lap: "Biggest Step A City Has Taken To Curb Obesity"

by Jen Chung

The big news is that the Barclays Center will not wait until March to follow the new rules. Developer Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner was present for the event and Bloomberg said, "I raise a 16 ounce cup and toast Barclays for joining us today and implementing this plan 6 months ahead of schedule. This is a game-changing vote and the new Barclays Center is on the winning side."


NoLandGrab: What Bruce isn't telling us is that he still plans to charge as if it's a 64 oz. soda.

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Nets Say ‘Nyet’ to Super-Sized Drinks: Bruce Ratner Announces Barclays Center Backing Soda Ban

So far the biggest drinking controversy at the arena has been over how late it would be serving alcohol until (a state panel settled on 1 a.m., an hour earlier than the arena wanted but hours after neighbors had prayed for). The size of alcoholic beverages will not be impacted, which is really all most sports fans care about, though there have been rumors that is where the mayor will turn his attention to next.

Still, what of the poor Justin Bieber fans who will have to shell out repeatedly to slake their thirst during the pop stars upcoming concerts?

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Markowitz on the "good jobs" at the Barclays Center: "if you don't have a job, you can't pooh-pooh it"

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, speaking at a Brooklyn Public Library "Power Up Breakfast" 9/12/12, offered continuing rhetoric about the jobs at the Barclays Center and a new--though questionable--defense.

"Sports brings us together as a community and as a nation," Markowitz said. "It's the social thread that binds us together and gives us something we can collectively take pride in."

Sure, people may be interested in a team, and enjoy watching it. But should we be taking pride in a privately-run sports entertainment corporation?

Markowitz on jobs

"Traditionally, sports stimulate our economy and create jobs. Thanks to the magnificent Barclays Center.... roughly 2000 New Yorkers will have good jobs, full and part-time jobs, that will bring in money and create jobs for many local businesses as well, surrounding the area," Markowitz declared.

Whether they're good jobs is very much in doubt, since part-time workers without other income would likely qualify for food stamps, as I've written.

But Markowitz was undeterred. "Now, those who oppose the arena pooh-pooh jobs, but you know what--if you don't have a job, you can't pooh-pooh it," he said.


NoLandGrab: Oh, yeah?! Just watch us. Pooh, pooh; pooh, pooh.

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

September 13, 2012

Barclays Center becomes first food service venue to voluntarily comply with new rules limiting size of sugary beverages (but what about that unlimited food option?)

Atlantic Yards Report

We're not above giving credit where it's due, so it's nice to know that we'd be able to buy a reasonably sized soda if we ever attended an event at the Barclays Center, though that, of course, ain't gonna happen.

So the New York City Board of Health agreed to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's contentious plan to limit the sale of sugary drinks in food service establishment to 16 ounces (here's coverage in the Times), and the guest of honor at the press conference was developer Bruce Ratner, whose Barclays Center will voluntarily conform six months in advance.

At the press conference (video), Bloomberg noted that Ratner was once Consumer Affairs Commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch and "he's never lost his sense of civic responsibility."

"Bruce has never been shy about taking on a challenge, like bringing professional basketball to Brooklyn," Bloomberg said later, introducing Ratner. "Here he is, my hero."

Gag us with an All-Syrup Super Squishee.

Ratner didn't say he was going to lean on his mall and movie theater tenants to voluntarily adopt the policy. That would have been heroic.

Also, Ratner's anti-obesity cred deserves an asterisk. The Nets offer an All Access Pass that can "be used for unlimited food, prepared by award-winning Levy Restaurants, at designated clubs and all fixed concession stands during NETS games -- a first-time offering for a major New York metropolitan area sports team."

So those sugary drinks, at least for the high rollers, can keep coming.


Posted by eric at 8:37 PM

I don't usually email you...

...probably for good reason.

Deb Goldstein, sister of Daniel Goldstein and t-shirt designer extraordinaire, received the following email this morning.

From: Beyonce Knowles info@barackobama.com
Date: September 13, 2012 9:55:25 AM EDT
To: Deborah Goldstein
Subject: I don't usually email you

Deborah --

I usually don't email you -- but I have an amazing invitation I have to share.

Jay and I will be meeting up with President Obama for an evening in NYC sometime soon. And we want you to be there!

Until midnight tonight, if you pitch in $25 or whatever you can, you'll be automatically entered to be flown out to join us.

I've had the honor of meeting President Obama and the First Lady a few times -- and believe me -- it's an opportunity you don't want to miss.

Don't worry about the airfare and hotel, it's taken care of. And you can bring a guest.

But the countdown is on -- this opportunity ends at midnight:


Can't wait to meet you!




NoLandGrab: They could've met at the Barclays Center groundbreaking, but Deb was corralled behind police barricades while "B" was on the inside.

Posted by eric at 1:13 PM

The Culture of Cheating: Ratner claims efforts to comply with construction regulations, but record tells a different story (and the state backed off plan for $10K/day fines)

Atlantic Yards Report

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, appearing 9/11/12 on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance," managed to smoothly rewrite the history of Forest City Ratner's (FCR) noncompliance with construction protocols (noise, dust, traffic) and the state's failure to stop such violations.

The failure, actually, goes beyond FCR's noncompliance and a TV host's inability to be skeptical. It implicates the "culture of cheating"--nothing illegal, but a framework that lets private interests trump public interests.

The failure goes back to the December 2009 Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC) that FCR negotiated with Empire State Development, the state agency that has the dicey duty of both overseeing and promoting Atlantic Yards. The MEC was supposed to bind Forest City to construction practices that protected the neighborhood.

In fact, according to documents I viewed via a Freedom of Information Law request, the state at one point sought a $10,000 daily penalty for violations of the MEC. Forest City opposed the penality. The developer clearly prevailed--though the documents I saw didn't explain how the resolution was achieved.

Think about it: even assuming that the state first issued a warning in response to violations, Forest City could have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars--likely millions--for letting its subcontractors cut corners in the breakneck effort to get the arena and associated infrastructure finished under a tight deadline.


Posted by eric at 12:54 PM

Yes, the Barclays Center is getting fully branded: EmblemHealth entrance emerges on Dean street

Atlantic Yards Report


Photo: Atlantic Yards Report

Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

An odd Times blog post about plans to screen Battle for Brooklyn: arena is reality, battle lost, but filmmaker "argues" the story remains relevant

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times's City Room, noticing just one aspect of the counter-programming planned in response to the Barclays Center opening, yesterday published a short article about plans to screen Battle for Brooklyn.

In On New Arena’s Big Night, a Rebuttal Down the Street, the Times reported:

Though the arena is now a reality, and the battle the movie tracked has long been lost, [filmmaker] Mr. [Michael] Galinksy argues that his documentary remains relevant.

“There’s a real tendency to want to forget,” he said of the contentious process. “But that’s how these things repeat themselves.”

A spokesman for the Barclays Center declined to comment.

My comment, as posted:

Yes, the battle tracked in the movie has been lost, but declarations of victory are rather premature. Forest City Ratner promised "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops."

The result so far: hoops (and concerts).

In other words, the benefits used to sell the project--and the significant government help, subsidies, and tax breaks--haven't been delivered.

Beyond that, does one have to argue that a documentary about recent history remains relevant?


Posted by eric at 12:42 PM

Yes, Barclays Center has logo in place for fly-over view

Atlantic Yards Report

From WCBS's Chopper 880/Tom Kaminski, a flyover photo of the Barclays Center. (Here's the backstory on the roof logo.)


NoLandGrab: Kinda looks like Brooklyn received a giant George Foreman grill for opening an account with the World's Most Corrupt Bank™.

Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

The Yards They Are A’Changing: Barclay’s Center Is Opening Up Really Soon

NYU Local
by Eric Silver

You remember the Barclays Center, right? You know, it’s that construction site in Brooklyn that’s supposed to become something? Since you’ve been away, the House That Jay-Z (And Gentrification) Built is actually looking like a stadium. A really, really, really big stadium.

Actually, its looks a lot bigger than everyone thought it was going to look like. Barclays Center construction watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report shows an extremely misleading rendering used on the official Atlantic Yards website. “First, the hovercraft effect… The rendering appears to be the work of someone standing on his shoulder. Note the height of the subway entrance.” The rendering also makes the stadium look much less wide and about the same size as the adjacent mall, which is pretty much not true. Check out the website’s own panorama to compare the details.

This isn’t the first huge piece of construction that’s come to the Atlantic Yards area. Bruce Ratner, the president of Ratner Forest construction and the guy responsible for the Barclays’s Center, built two monstrous malls just next door. The Atlantic Terminal and the Atlantic Center are two testaments to suburbs right in the heart of Brooklyn, sporting a Target, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chuck E. Cheese, and a DMV for good measure. Although everyone was equally abuzz when the Terminal went up in 2004, there’s been a shift from “Wow, we have a Target!” to “Wow, this guy is taking over everything!”


Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

Meet the new Nets fans

With 10,000 season tickets already sold, Brooklyn’s new basketball team has won over the borough — and convinced Knicks supporters to abandon the Garden

NY Post
by Kirsten Fleming

Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo grew up following the Celtics during the Larry Bird era, had her first date with her husband Chris Ivery at an LA Clippers game and frequently goes to see the Lakers.

Ah, that's who Ellen Pompeo is.

“Basketball is my only sport,” an enthusiastic Pompeo, 42, tells The Post. “I’m such a fan of the game.”

But now she’s supporting the newly minted Brooklyn Nets. When season tickets at the team’s soon-to-open Barclays Center went on sale this year, Pompeo and her husband snapped up courtside seats.

Pompeo isn’t the only basketball fan cozying up to the new-and-improved team. More than 10,000 season tickets have been sold to date, says Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center — and of those 10,000 season ticket holders, only 10 percent owned seats when the Nets were based in New Jersey.

“When you look at our season ticket base, you’re talking about roughly 45 percent from Brooklyn, 25 percent from Manhattan, 12 percent from New Jersey, and the rest is from the outer boroughs and Long Island,” explains Yormark.


NoLandGrab: Wait! Didn't Bruce Ratner and his "sports economist" Andrew Zimbalist tell us that 30% of Brooklyn Nets' ticket buyers would be coming from New Jersey?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Have the Brooklyn Nets "won over the borough," as the New York Post asserts? Well, they've sold 4,500 season tickets to Brooklynites

OK, so the Nets are drawing new fans in a new market. But 4500 season tickets from a borough with more than 2.5 million people does not mean that the Nets have "won over the borough."

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

Brooklyn Nets’ new Barclays Center home features unique herringbone-patterned court

The $1 billion Barclays Center will open Sept. 28 with a Jay Z concert. The first basketball game is an Oct. 15 preseason contest between the Nets and Wizards.

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

The Celtics have their fabled parquet floor, and the Nets hope their unique design will bring just as much success to Brooklyn.

Yes, we're fully expecting the Nets to win eight straight NBA championships, and 11 in 13 years.

A court surface highlighted by dark shading and herringbone pattern was unveiled at the Barclays Center this week, giving us another reminder of how the Nets want to be hip, different and, perhaps most consistently, dark.

They're like Batman trying to save New York basketball.



Photo: Bloomberg

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

Inside the New Home of the Brooklyn Nets

19,000 seat arena and a re-branded team, minority owner Jay-Z has big plans to take on the dominant Madison Square Garden.

The Hollywood Reporter
by Jordan Zakarin

Getting celebrities to sit courtside is a high-value target for any NBA franchise, and while Jay-Z and Beyonce will go a long way, the Nets will have to do better than just Ellen Pompeo and MTV's Sway (who have bought season tickets) if they're going to compete with Madison Square Garden -- which, for decades, has been the city's only viable spot for massive concerts and events. MSG also has the advantage of being the home of the Knicks and the WNBA's Liberty as well as the NHL's Rangers -- and those franchises drove the Garden's profits to $322 million last quarter.

"Personally, I don't think the Garden has any reason to consider Barclays as a serious competitor mainly because of the No. 1 rule in New York City real estate: location, location, location," Alan Hahn, who covered the NBA for Newsday and now is an on-air analyst for MSG's TV network, told The Hollywood Reporter. "The Garden is in mid-town Manhattan, at the heart of New York City. It's also the Garden, an icon, a place with rich history and tradition."


NoLandGrab: Yeah, but does the Garden have a herringbone floor? Huh? Huh?

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

September 12, 2012

On New Arena’s Big Night, a Rebuttal Down the Street

City Room
by Elizabeth A. Harris

After years of conflict and construction, the Barclays Center will finally be open for business Sept. 28, and Jay-Z, a part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, will perform a sold-out show to christen the arena his team will call home.

But at that very moment, less than one block away, some of the people who opposed the project hope to put on a show of their own.

A documentary called “Battle for Brooklyn,” which follows the multiyear fight against the Atlantic Yards development, will be screened by the filmmakers at 8 p.m. on the arena’s opening night, just about as close to the action as they can get without buying a scalped ticket.

The filmmakers have applied for a permit to show the movie at Dean Playground, just down the block from the Barclays Center. Vickie Karp, a spokeswoman for the parks department, said the permit is under consideration, and if approved, it will move on to the Police Department for a sound permit.

If the permit is rejected, Mr. Goldstein said he and the filmmakers hope to show the documentary in one of two locations nearby, both on private property — thus requiring no city permit — and both less than half a block from the arena. The use of those locations had not been confirmed, Mr. Goldstein said. Admission will be free, wherever the screening takes place, he said.


Posted by eric at 6:25 PM

Fact-checking eight claims in Brett Yormark's Billboard Q&A

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder injects a little sodium pentathol into yesterday's ridiculous Billboard.biz interview with Brett Yormark.

A Billboard Q&A, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark on the Brooklyn Brand, Jay-Z, $1 Billion Building, is worth some quick fact-checking.


Posted by eric at 4:17 PM

Victory lap: in Bloomberg interview, Ratner calls arena "whole big good," claims "we've done a huge amount" to placate neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder dissects another insipid Bloomberg TV love-fest with Bruce Ratner.

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, speaking yesterday with Tom Keene, Sara Eisen and Scarlet Fu on Bloomberg Television's "Surveillance," got the typical hero treatment from unskeptical business reporters.

Asked Keene, "What did you learn about NIMBY, not in my backyard?"

"Too much," responded a grinning Ratner. "When you live around a project and near a project of this size, it's likely that you will be opposed to it.... And it's understandable on one level. On the other, when you look at the whole big good, it's not understandable."

The "whole big good" that says the arena's a loser for the city, according to the Independent Budget Office?


NoLandGrab: Ah, we get it now. This isn't a real interview. It's a Second City spoof starring Eugene Levy.

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

An Occupy protest coming in response to Jay-Z's comments, but will it be just before his Sept. 28 concert?

Atlantic Yards Report

An Occupy Wall Street affiliate is planning a protest of Barclays Center/Nets part-owner Jay-Z regarding his comments on Occupy, though I suspect that the announced time, 6 pm on Sept. 28, will be adjusted once planners recognize how difficult it will be to get near the arena in the hours before the first event.

(Note that those Brooklyn organizations behind the Atlantic Yards Crime Scene protest are planning other events, including a 9/27, 7PM candlelight vigil at the Barclays Center and a 9/28, 11AM press conference there, but nothing after 4 pm that day other than tweets and a movie screening nearby. I suspect they recognize that the combination of event-goers and massive security would make any gathering impossible.)

Also responding to Jay-Z was Russell Simmons, one of the relatively few hip-hop figures (producer, entrepreneur) who has the wealth and stature of Jay-Z (though, obviously, not the same adoring fans). Simmons wrote on Global Grind, in part:

As a person who cares deeply about Occupy Wall Street, I have to honor their year-long effort and educate my long-time friend, Jay-Z. This weekend, he was interviewed by the New York Times where he discusses OWS, where he was quoted as saying “I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?” If he understood it and endorsed the movement, it would make a big difference to poor people. As the same man that said he would pay more taxes if it helped educate more children and create affordable healthcare, Jay-Z's words matter. He was honest enough to say that he didn’t understand it. A lot of Americans don’t. He was also honest enough to recognize that there are some in the 1 percent who "deceiving" and "robbing," so I know in his heart he gets it. I know he is a compassionate person who cares about the poor, so I'm certain if I had two more minutes with him, I could change his mind.


NoLandGrab: Jay's one of the few people who's deceived and robbed as a member of the 99% and the 1%.

Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

The Culture of Cheating: after Forest City claimed "We do not expect to ask for more subsidy," they started asking for more

Atlantic Yards Report

It wasn't a lie, but it sure doesn't look like forthrightness, either. Consider it part of the "culture of cheating" that pervades Atlantic Yards.

Let's go back to a July 2009 Q&A sponsored by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), as a prelude to a public hearing on re-approval of the Atlantic Yards plan, and one of the few times Forest City Ratner executives have been subjected to challenging questions from the public.

"Has Forest City Ratner asked the city and/or state for additional subsidies, including 'extraordinary infrastructure costs'?" asked moderator Craig Hammerman, District Manager of Community Board 6, reading a question from the audience. "If so, how much and, to Forest City Ratner, do you anticipate asking for more subsidies?"


Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

Brooklyn Nets – Lets be serious for a minute

Believe the Hype

For the last few months there has been a lot of hype surrounding the Brooklyn Nets. It seems like NBA Fans & even basketball analysts have jumped on the back of the teams glitzy move from New Jersey as if it’s a whole new era where the team will become one of the most successful teams in the NBA. Yeah, sure, it could happen… But straight away? Not likely.

The Nets may have a new home in Brooklyn, a new arena in the Barclays Center & new black & white jerseys. But if you have a look at the most important part of an NBA team, the roster, it isn’t as shiny, new & chic as the franchises other major changes.

Whilst it should be expected that the Nets will improve this season & I expect them to potentially challenge for the 8th seed in the East, lets just try & not get caught up in the marketing hype surrounding the team at the moment & remember what they really are right now… An NBA Cellar Dweller that has added an overpaid all-star & has replaced bit-players with similar bit-players & not an elite team.

New City… New Uniforms… New Arena… Pretty much the same Nets.


Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

Atlantic Yards Deep Thoughts: Rusty Facade Edition

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

It makes perfect sense that the Barclays Arena is all about the facade, since "Jobs, Housing & Hoops" was just a facade.


And here's another...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Deep (Rhetorical) Thoughts: Eminent Domain Down The Memory Hole Edition

Is the media going to remember that eminent domain was used by New York state to seize and demolish people's homes and businesses so Forest City Ratner could build a money losing arena, or just do daily fluffs and puffs of Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark?

Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

Cops: Woman slashes man with broken mug handle

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

More action in the "whole big bad" of Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn malls.

Atlantic terminated

A crook stole a woman’s wallet in the Atlantic Center Mall on Sept. 1.

The victim told cops she was at a restaurant in the plaza near Flatbush Avenue at 6 pm when she left her purse on the table while she used the restroom, returning a few minutes later to find her wallet missing.


A crook waltzed out of the Atlantic Center Mall’s Target with a TV he didn’t pay for on Sept. 8.

Representatives from the store in the mall near Flatbush Avenue told cops that a thief walked out with a 32-inch Samsung TV without paying for it between 7 and 7:10 pm.


Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

September 11, 2012

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark on the Brooklyn Brand, Jay-Z, $1 Billion Building

by Ray Waddell

Like a modern-day P.T. Barnum without the charm, Brett Yormark keeps on burnishing the legend of Brett Yormark.

Brett Yormark, CEO, Brooklyn Nets/Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Barclays Center, is a self-proclaimed "brand guy," and as such he knows a great brand when he says one. That would be Brooklyn.

Since joining the Nets organization in January of 2005, Yormark has reinvented the culture of the organization. Yormark's mission has been to make the Nets the most accessible, inventive, fan-friendly, and community-active team in sports. And that mission will come to bear physically in the form of the Barclays Center, the Nets' new home beginning for the start of the 2012-13 NBA season.

Billboard: How did the New Jersey Nets to end up in Brooklyn at the new Barclays Center?

Brett Yormark: Bruce Ratner had the vision of bringing sports and entertainment back to Brooklyn and building a mixed-use development at Flatbush and Atlantic for the arena and the team, which really would be the anchor of this renaissance of downtown Brooklyn. It took a little longer than expected. There was a little opposition. But I give all the credit to Bruce for persevering, having the vision, and sticking with that vision.

Anchor the renaissance? The renaissance has been happening for more than a decade. The arena is more likely Brooklyn's jump-the-shark moment.

I'd agree, the arena feels very "Brooklyn." I've rarely seen a venue built to integrate so completely into its neighborhood, and reflect the vibe of that neighborhood.

Oh, God. Mike Wallace this guy is not.

You're absolutely right. SHoP Architects and Ellerbe Beckett, they've done an incredible job of truly speaking to the borough and integrating the architectural flavor of the building in a way that really fits the borough. The grittiness of the weathered steel exterior really speaks to the strength of Brooklyn, and the boldness of it. The terrazzo flooring across the concourse, the black ceilings, exposed loft-type environment, I really think they've captured it all.

It gets better.

A big part of this project is the 20-year naming rights deal with Barclays. How much did it mean to you to get that deal done?

For me, what I'm most proud of is the cultural fit for Barclays.

Come again?

Tell me about that, it just seems so unlikely.

You can either do it for the money or you can do it for the partnerships, and thankfully, in our case we did it for both reasons. Financially, they made a very appealing offer to us, but more important than the financials is, we just believed in Barclays and Barclays believed in us, and that goes to the highest levels.


Posted by eric at 11:01 PM

Atlantic Yards: The Treachery of Promises

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

A raft of Governors from Pataki to Cuomo, and Mayor Bloomberg approved taxpayer subsidies, eminent domain and below market public land sales for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. In return the developer was supposed to deliver (with our tax dollars) 2,250 units of "affordable" housing over ten years. Two and one half years after the groundbreaking of the Barclays Center Arena not a single housing unit has broken ground.

While not indictable, unfortunately, this is criminal.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, this is not acceptable and something has got to change at the Atlantic Yards site. Jobs, Housing....whoops, just isn't working.


Posted by eric at 10:38 PM

Consultant: Arena schedule "extremely aggressive, but achievable" (though TCO not gotten as planned); punch list work will extend to 9/22, then resume on non-event days; also, a sign of a hockey push

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest report by Merritt & Harris, the construction consultant to the Barclays Center bond trustee, provides additional evidence that work on the arena is going down to the wire, with the projected substantial completion of the arena, 9/5/12, already missed and the consultant's observation that "the Arena schedule is extremely aggressive, but achievable," given overtime.

This is the first time the consultant has made such an observation.

Indeed, punch list work will extend to 9/22/12 and "resume during non-event days." That suggests that when the arena ribbon-cutting is held on 9/21/12, there will be more work to do.


NoLandGrab: We don't know about you, but we're starting to think it's unlikely that all of Atlantic Yards will be complete by December 10, 2013 — the promised ten-year buildout from the date the project was introduced.

Related coverage...

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com], Barclays Center countdown

We’re only 17 days away from the first event at the $1 billion Barclays Center, the Nets’ new home near downtown Brooklyn – and only 10 days away from a grand opening ceremony at the site.

And while it still doesn’t seem like it will be the scramble that the Devils faced in 2007 to move into the Prudential Center in Newark, it has become increasingly clear in the past few months that the site will continue to be a beehive of activity every single day for the next several weeks.

Posted by eric at 10:28 PM

Jay-Z's Got 99% Problems, and a Barclays Center Protest Is One

The Atlantic Wire
by David Wagner

Jay-Z has drawn the ire of Occupiers yet again, this time over quotes he dropped in his Zadie Smith-penned The New York Times T Magazine profile. This isn't the first time Jay-Z and Occupy have feuded. Last November, Jay-Z pissed off the Zuccotti Park set by selling Occupy Wall Street knock-off shirts without donating any profits to the movement. OWS called the rapper a "bloodsucker," but Jay-Z emerged from the spat mostly unscathed. After all, Occupiers were too busy trying to not get kicked out of their campsite to focus on Jay-Z too much. But this time, the 99 percenters have a more targeted plan of attack for shaming the rap mogul. They're taking their beef to Jay-Z's big opening-night concert at the Barclays Center, turf he partially owns.

Jay-Z has always seemed somewhat supportive of the Occupy movement in theory, but he questions its goals and rhetoric. "What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for?" Jay-Z asks in the quotes that reignited the feud. "I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?" As a firmly-established member of the 1 percent, Jay-Z is most bothered by Occupy's demonization of everyone in the top-tier. "Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on."

Funny, we don't remember Hova having even one problem with New York State taking people's homes away to make room for the Barclays Center.

Occupy-affiliated group Guitarmy took to Tumblr to set Jay-Z straight about what they're working towards. They write, "We have spent one year on the streets organizing for exactly the things Jay rapped about in his early days, ending urban poverty, ending Stop & Frisk and police use of lethal force, of returning dignity and hope to the everyday people of New York City." Guitarmy plans to make sure Jay-Z gets the message by protesting his grand opening concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sept. 28th.


NoLandGrab: What do we want, Jay? We want a travesty like Atlantic Yards to never happen, ever, anywhere.

Related coverage...

Pitchfork, Occupy Wall Street to Stage Teach-In at Jay-Z Concert After Jay Questions Movement

As the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street approaches, the movement's Guitarmy group has announced a teach-in for September 28 outside Jay-Z's concert at the new Brooklyn arena, the Barclays Center. (You may remember the Guitarmy from this spring's May Day protest.) Jay-Z is a part owner of the Nets, the basketball team that plays at the Barclays Center.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Barclays Center, A Great Monument to Crony Capitalism, Invites Protest

Hold it right there Hova. Surely, with Jay Z's 1/15th of one percent ownership of the Nets and 1/5th of one percent ownership of the arena the rap mogul is aware that his partners, Forest City Ratner with the help of a raft of Governors and Mayor Bloomberg used eminent domain against people to do just that—"take their home away from them"—all for the benefit of one of the ultimate one-percenters Mikhail Prokhorov.

Posted by eric at 12:03 PM

New video exposes the Culture of Cheating: Markowitz admits Brooklyn is not "1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards," as he told Chinese investors, but asserts, jocularly, it's "980 percent"

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz made a video in the fall of 2010, claiming that Brooklyn was "1000 percent behind Atlantic Yards?"

Such misleading support helped Forest City Ratner raise some $228 million in cheap capital from immigrant investors via the federal government's EB-5 program, an effort I've been dissecting for two years under the rubric "Anatomy of a Shady Deal."

Well, I finally got Markowitz to explain himself--sort of--and he admitted he was wrong, though not by much.

Valuable help

Markowitz's shilling, as well as cheerleading from city and state officials, helped the developer save tens of millions of dollars from 456 investors, given that the would-be immigrants, who park $500,000 in a purported job-creating enterprise in exchange for green cards for themselves and their families, care little about earning interest.

The middleman--in this case a federally-authorized investment pool called the New York City Regional Center--loaned the money to Forest City at below-market interest, and gets to keeps the spread.

The loser? The public, since the intent of the law is to create new jobs, not simply to increase the profits of a developer by allowing it to substitute cheaper capital for existing capital, as seems to be the case here.

Thus Markowitz's role also highlights my new, ongoing Culture of Cheating series that aims to provide a framework for viewing the Atlantic Yards saga.


Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

As EB-5 "visas for job creation" program faces renewal vote today, the Daily reveals that an investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse has begun

Atlantic Yards Report

Federal overseers are apparently following the vastly obvious clue that not all is right with the booming EB-5 program, which grants wealthy foreigners green cards for themselves and their families in exchange for purportedly job-creating investments marketed by private investment pools known as regional centers.

In 'INVESTOR VISA' PROBE: Federal program trading foreign finance for citizenship comes under scrutiny, The Daily's Sarah Ryley (ex-Brooklyn Eagle) reported yesterday:

A burgeoning immigration program that gives wealthy foreigners and their families a chance at citizenship if they lay down big cash is under scrutiny by Homeland Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Daily has learned.

...Jay Peak Resort in Vermont has used $200 million to transform itself into a year-round destination. And the developer of a new basketball arena for the Brooklyn Nets has collected $228 million to replace costly conventional financing.

But many projects have gone bust and some are in legal disputes that allege fraud, casting doubt on the immigration agency's ability to effectively monitor the program....

Last month, Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General launched an investigation to determine if the program is "effectively administered and managed to detect and deter fraud, waste, abuse, while avoiding national security threats," according to the internal announcement obtained by The Daily.

Beyond the legal disputes, there's much evidence of misleading marketing, as shown in videos from web sites in China regarding the Atlantic Yards investment.


Related content...

The Daily, ‘INVESTOR VISA’ PROBE: Federal program trading foreign finance for citizenship comes under scrutiny

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

New Nets court shines in Brooklyn

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Ooh, the Barclays Center has the only herringbone pattern and black key areas in the NBA! Jobs Herringbone, Housing Black Keys & Hoops!

Nets officials yesterday gave The Post an exclusive first look at the team’s new basketball court at Barclays Center, boasting it includes a “one-of-a-kind” herringbone pattern of wood panels that stands out above anything hoop fans have ever seen.

“We wanted a court that was identifiable and different, so that when fans turn on the TV at home they’ll realize they are in Brooklyn,” crowed Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “This court does exactly that.”

Yormark also said there’s a “bold, dark, gritty feeling” to the court that “blends nicely with the entire motif” of the 18,200-seat arena.

The design, fashioned by Yormark and the club’s marketing team, had to pass strict NBA testing to ensure it doesn’t look blurry on television.


NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure "strict NBA testing" is an oxymoron.

Related coverage...

New York Magazine, Lookin’ Sharp, Barclays Center!

With the seats in place, the Jumbotron danglin', the baskets up, and the court laid down, the place almost looks ready for a basketball game. Via Nets Daily, we've also got images of the arena dressed up for hockey (the Islanders and Devils, remember, will play a preseason game at Barclays in October, and there'll be KHL action there early next year). Shiny!

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

Agency, Developer Wrestle Over Atlantic Yards Affordability

Affordable Housing Report

Culture of Cheating? You betcha.

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.


Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

After Barclays Comes the Building Blocks Towers

by Dave Hogarty

Now that the Barclays Center is practically open, it's time to direct our attention behind the arena and the planned pre-fab towers that Forest City Ratner plans on building at the Atlantic Yards. The first building is a 32-story tower comprised of 930 separate modular units that will be manufactured elsewhere and assembled on site. If all goes well, that might just be the first of 15 modular-built towers, according to Crain's, with the highest one reaching 50 stories. That's tall, and almost as up in the air as the question of whether any of them will be built.


Renderings: Forest City Ratner/SHoP Architects

Related coverage...

The Real Deal, Come Christmas, Forest City will make its prefab decision at AY

The decision hinges, in part, on whether Forest City can get construction unions to accept a 25 percent pay cut to work on the project. Crain’s noted that cutting construction costs is especially important to the developer because by the time all 4,500 rental units are erected on the former rail yards, half of them must be affordable.

But with the unconventional construction technique comes unique concerns.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

September 10, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: arena down to the wire, as some work won't be finished within two weeks

Atlantic Yards Report

The Barclays Center, in both exterior and interior photos, looks close to finished, but there's still a lot of work to do regarding the arena and the site in general before the arena opens Sept. 28. And that's why there are double shifts daily to get the work done.

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated today and issued by Empire State Development (after preparation by Forest City Ratner), the path to a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) has been delayed somewhat, as indicated at last week's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet.

While the NYC Department of Buildings performed the first and preliminary TCO walk-though of the facility on 08/20/12 and did a second on 08/27/12, the final walk-through, scheduled for 9/4/12, was rescheduled to 09/07/12--though the document doesn't explain whether it actually occurred.

The FDNY inspections of the fire alarm were supposed to be finished the week of 08/27/12 but now are "expected to be completed during this reporting period."The Department of Health inspection of the food service was scheduled for yesterday, 9/10/2012.

While New York City Transit was initially expected to inspect the new subway entrance during the week of 8/27/12, it's now expected to inspect it this week. A soft opening of the station entrance is tentatively scheduled for September 14.

The challenge

The overall challenge: getting the arena tested and commissioned before opening, a process that Forest City executive MaryAnne Gilmartin once swore had to start in July after the arena was completed.

My prediction: the arena will open, but it will be a bumpy ride.


NoLandGrab: The next time Maryanne Gilmartin is true to her word will also be the first time Maryanne Gilmartin is true to her word.

Posted by eric at 10:10 PM

Carlton Avenue Bridge expected to reopen on or around Sept. 24

Atlantic Yards Report

The Carlton Avenue Bridge will, in fact, reopen before the Barclays Center arena opens--offering key traffic flow but still leaving a bad taste for those who remembered that, when it closed in January 2008, the timetable was two years.

On or around September 24, 2012, Carlton Avenue will re-open to vehicular traffic as a two-way roadway between between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street. Drivers can turn left or right on Atlantic Avenue.

After Carlton Avenue reopens, Pacific Street between Carlton and Sixth Avenue will change from one-way westbound to a two-way roadway.

As shown in the map below, an eastbound turn onto Pacific will be permissible only for those accessing the surface parking lot associated with the arena. For more information, see www.esd.ny.gov/AtlanticYards or www.atlanticyards.com.


Posted by eric at 2:13 PM

Atlantic Yards and the Culture of Cheating

Atlantic Yards Report

This page launched on Sept. 10, 2012 and will be updated.

The Barclays Center opens Sept. 28, 2012. The parade of entertainment and Brooklyn's first arena surely will provoke much media attention.

The looming, metal-clad arena, unmistakable at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, forming a new node just past long-accepted downtown boundaries, has been enough to convince some journalists, like a New York magazine sportswriter who willfully puts on blinders when it comes to the political implications of sports, that the “battle is over, and Bruce Ratner won it.”

That, however, depends on amnesia, or ignorance: a dismissal of the enormous claims of Atlantic Yards benefits, and belief in Ratner's assertion that “Nobody will remember what we had to do to make it happen.”

But Atlantic Yards, announced in December 2003, approved in December 2006 and again in September 2009, will be remembered, not just for its promises of 16 towers and arena, "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops," but "what we had to do."

Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center have provoked neither indictments nor investigations. It's not a crime--despite the metaphorical use of the term by those planning protests for the opening weekend.

It’s almost all legal--well, judges this year confirmed serious civil illegality: that the state had evaded the required environmental review. Though too late to affect the arena, that meant one official finding that the project is tainted.

There's no legal corruption. But Atlantic Yards relies upon what I'd call a "culture of cheating," a term inspired by The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, a book by business ethicist David Callahan.

It's an ends-justify-the-means shamelessness and betrayal of promises that pervades the project, involving, at various times, project promoters, consultants, lawyers, and community partners. And that cheating has been too often ignored or papered over by the press.


Posted by eric at 2:05 PM

The "Civic Developer" and the Culture of Cheating: how Bruce Ratner backed off promises to build Atlantic Yards in ten years and to build conventional towers with union labor

Atlantic Yards Report

There's nothing criminal about Atlantic Yards, nothing corrupt--at least nothing found or even investigated.

But many people feel uneasy about the project and the process, suspicions validated by a finding of serious civil illegality--the state's failure to study the impacts of a 25-year buildout.

That failure, left unresolved when the Barclays Center opens Sept. 28, was linked to the signing of a Development Agreement in 2009 after the project was approved. The Development Agreement, which gave developer Forest City Ratner 12 years to build the first towers on the arena block and 25 years to build the project, was initially withheld from public and legal scrutiny.

It's part of a pattern that pervades the Atlantic Yards saga. I call it the "culture of cheating," drawing on The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, a book by business ethicist David Callahan. (The book doesn't deal with Atlantic Yards, though an update could.)

Developer Bruce Ratner has made two self-sabotaging--if rather little-noticed--statements that back up charges of cheating:

  • he repudiated the ten-year timeline to build the project previously endorsed by his company and the state
  • he claimed that high-rise, union-built affordable housing isn't feasible, even though that's what he long planned and the state approved twice

Ratner's been using the word civic a lot, but it's a weasel world. It means "relating a city," or to citizenship, but it does not necessarily denote the public interest. Ratner seems to be saying that, as long as he's building in the city, he's somehow helping the city. The reality is a bit more complicated, since he also gains things like public subsidies, tax breaks, and eminent domain.


Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

Former Markowitz deputy Scissura: arena can be convention center and Marty can "do whatever he wants to do" after he leaves office

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder picks out the relevant pieces from a City & State interview with Marty Markowitz's former right-hand man.

From City & State, An Interview with Carlo Scissura, the Brooklyn Chamber’s New Leader (and former Chief of Staff to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz):

Q. Are you going to work with the Brooklyn Nets?

A. It’s the greatest thing happening in Brooklyn right now. In less than two months, the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn. We’re thinking about partnerships with the Nets and the Barclays Arena. One of the first things out of my mouth when I travel to tourism trade shows is we have the Nets and we have the Barclays Arena. Let’s do some conventions there. It’s time Brooklyn become convention central for smaller conventions. The Barclays Arena should become a beacon for conventions across America.

That's interesting--the arena has never been promoted as a convention center, nor are arenas generally that flexible. It would help to have more delivery space and parking, and a connected hotel or two.


Related content...

City & State, An Interview with Carlo Scissura, the Brooklyn Chamber’s New Leader

Q. How do you replace Marty Markowitz when he leaves office?

A. There is only one Marty Markowitz in the world. He currently is the best borough president Brooklyn has ever had. It will take 20 of us to replace him. He will always be the borough president.

Q. What’s he going to do next?

A. He can do whatever he wants to do. Any organization in the city would be lucky to have him.

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Legoland comes to Brooklyn

Decision looms on plans for world's tallest prebuilt towers in downtown Brooklyn.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

Here's another article for which we covered Atlantic Yards Report's coverage this weekend.

Architect Christopher Sharples knows what most people think of when they hear the term "modular construction."

"A bunch of shoeboxes sitting on top of one another," said the SHoP Architects principal.

Soon he hopes to shatter that negative stereotype in record-setting fashion. Mr. Sharples is part of a core group of 18 people brought together by Forest City Ratner to design a 32-story residential tower made up of 930 prebuilt modules containing portions of finished apartments—everything from bathrooms to kitchens—bolted to a steel frame.

It will not only be the world's tallest modular structure but likely the least uniform one as well, boasting four different façades. It will also take a prominent position next to the Barclays Center, in the developer's Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn. There it may ultimately be joined by 15 other modular apartment buildings, at least one soaring as high as 50 stories.

For starters, 60% of the construction would be done indoors in a factory where carpenters, plumbers, painters and electricians would build the modules. Meanwhile at Atlantic Yards, crews would erect the tower's steel frame. The dual tracking of construction alone could shave as much as six months off the process, saving millions of dollars.


NoLandGrab: Six months? That means Atlantic Yards might get built in 29 years, six months, rather than 30 years.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Training Facility Search Broadens


The Nets are looking at a number of sites for their new training facility. According to a Brooklyn website, in addition to visiting site near Brooklyn Ikea in Red Hook, team representatives visited a school bus depot, also in Red Hook, recently. The site, at 62-64 Ferris Street, is next door to the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal in a former industrial area.

The Nets are looking primarily in Brooklyn, but are not close to making a decision, which will be based on cost, access to Barclays Center, team offices and area airports.


NoLandGrab: Why is Bruce wasting his time? He should just pick the location he wants, have the ESDC condemn the property, and toss in a generous subsidy package to sweeten the deal.

Related coverage...

DNAinfo.com, Brooklyn Nets Size Up Potential Practice Sites in Red Hook

The NBA's Brooklyn Nets are eyeing two waterfront sites in Red Hook for new practice facilities and offices closer to the team's new Barclay's Center in Boerum Hill, a realty source and Crain's said.

NLG: Last we checked, the Barclays Center — no apostrophe — was in Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

As Carlton Avenue Bridge proceeds toward completion, a "September is Just the Beginning" banner waves nearby

Atlantic Yards Report

The reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, which has to be open before the Barclays Center arena opens on Sept. 28, is nearly finished.

But even before it's done, a "September is Just the Beginning" banner appears down the block on Carlton Avenue, right above a sign that announced the bridge closing, which began in January 2008.

Yes, there are banners on Carlton Avenue, even though they mysteriously appeared and were removed within 24 hours on equally residential Dean and Pacific streets.

What's going on? We don't really know, and we're still waiting for the Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager to be hired, so there's no single point person for the arena.


NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner promised in January 2008 that the bridge would be closed for just two years. That was four years and nine months ago.

Posted by eric at 10:53 AM

When Big Projects Stall

Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, Like Others Across the Country, Brings Mixed Results

The Wall Street Journal
by Eliot Brown

We covered Norman Oder's coverage of this Journal piece this weekend — here's the source article.

Partially-built mega-projects dot U.S. cities.

In New London, Conn., a piece of land once eyed for a sprawling waterfront development with a hotel, office space and residential, is still fallow seven years after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of eminent domain to take homes on the site. The new mayor, Daryl Finizio, says now the city is hoping to start on a residential development on a portion of the 90-acre site by mid-2013, but for now the site is without the new neighborhood and the envisioned tax revenues.

In downtown Los Angeles, developer Related Cos. hasn't been able to build a set of skyscrapers proposed at the market's peak that were planned on lots in the downtown area in a $3 billion development known as Grand Avenue. The developer recently opened a park, and has said it is considering changing the project to get it going beyond a mid-sized building it plans to soon begin. But public officials are still contending with ownership of the vacant lots.

In New Jersey, the $1.9 billion mega-mall previously named Xanadu has been stalled for three years, and a new developer working with the administration of Gov. Chris Christie is trying to restart work and enlarge the project to include more entertainment. Officials were counting on thousands of jobs and improvements to a swampy area of the Meadowlands.

In the case of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, benefits were crucial to tempering a vocal community opposition when the project was approved in 2006. As the centerpiece of the development, the arena was supposed to be designed by famed architect Frank Gehry with a roof adorned with grass and a running track. The New York-based developer, Bruce Ratner, also pledged to reserve nearly one third of 6,400 planned apartments for low and middle-income families, along with a community health-care center and other givebacks.

But these and other selling points have been deferred, or in a few cases scrapped, as the company has struggled to get the larger project off the ground amid a chilly climate for new development.

Changes such as the decision to drop Mr. Gehry, were necessary given the decline of the real-estate market during the recession, Forest City executives say. "You need to be flexible and to be nimble," says MaryAnne Gilmartin, an executive vice president at Forest City. "The alternative would be to let the project die of its own weight."


Related coverage...

Willets Point United, When Big Projects Fail

The WSJ has a fascinating article on the failed promises of the Atlantic Yards project-and Eliot Brown's take on this is a cautionary tale for all of the grandiose promises still swirling around the Willets Point development.

That gets us to the affordable housing pledge the city has made over at Willets Point-and why we have called it a "Wimpy" deal-the likelihood of any of the original promises being kept is closer to nil. This means that, when all is said and done, the city will be taking the property of small owners and handing it over to Sterling Equities and Related to build a lucrative mall for the crony capitalists-shafting not only the property owners but the public as well.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

September 9, 2012

Crain's: Forest City to construct prototype module for prefab tower this month, will decide by Christmas; some revisionist history on consultant's role

Atlantic Yards Report

There are a few new tidbits in a Crain's New York Business article posted today headlined Legoland comes to Brooklyn: Decision looms on plans for world's tallest prebuilt towers in downtown Brooklyn.

(Of course, it's not "downtown Brooklyn.")

Here's the latest timetable for the long-delayed first tower, which would be the world's tallest modular building.:

What remains to be seen, however, is whether it actually gets built. Forest City will construct a prototype module this month and then decide by Christmas on whether to build modular towers or conventional ones. The choice hinges largely on whether Forest City can ink a deal with unions that would require them to take significant pay cuts to help the developer achieve its goal of lowering construction costs by up to 25%. Saving that money is especially important because 50% of the 4,500 rental apartments planned for Atlantic Yards are designated to be affordable or low-income housing. Forest City hopes that its system eventually will become a model for other large-scale developers.

"This could revolutionize how we do construction in the city," said MaryAnne Gilmartin, the Forest City executive vice president who is spearheading the project.

There's nothing as to how this might affect the promised jobs and tax revenues associated with the project. The modular gambit also might be used as a negotiating tactic with the labor unions. But if they're building a module, they already have preliminary cooperation with labor unions.

And saving that money is "especially important" not so much because there's subsidized housing but because a corporate developer deemed it so. After all, New York State approved the Atlantic Yards plan on the assumption that Forest City could build it.

Revisionist history

The article states:

Setting up a factory will be essential for Forest City, not just for this project, but also for any hopes it might have of churning out modules for other developers in the future. Nearly two years ago, Forest City launched its modular journey by tapping SHoP, engineering firm Arup and consultant XSite Modular to devise a plan.

The process actually started nearly three years ago, as I reported, when Forest City began work with a now-defunct firm, Kullman Construction.

After Kullman's second-in-command left, she formed a new firm, XSite Modular, that eventually became Forest City's partner. Kullman filed a lawsuit against XSite that was settled out of court, but not without some drama.

Gilmartin, angry at the breakdown in negotiations with Kullman and another outside part of the team, architect James Garrison, issued a threat, which Garrison described in an email to Kullman's Avi Telyas that was included in the legal file. "I had an unpleasant conversation with MaryAnne," Garrison wrote. "I was told they know the same people I know and they’ll make sure to fuck me whenever possible."

Not only is Kullman no longer extant, XSite bought the Kullman web address.

Factory coming?

To actually proceed, Forest City will have to start a factory, likely in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In early June, Real Estate Weekly quoted Gilmartin as saying the developer was "four to six weeks away from signing a lease for 100,000 s/f of factory space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard." That hasn't happened.

The plan for the first building is sophisticated, according to Crain's:

Adding to the challenge, the developer insisted that its tower transcend the dull uniformity for which modular buildings are known. Instead, its plan calls for a tower with setbacks outside and 24 different apartment layouts inside. That variety, however, led to a need for 225 different modules, which in turn require a more complicated frame.


Posted by steve at 10:48 PM

Jay-Z: "Civic-Minded Hip-Hop Mogul" or "The House that Hova Hyped"?

Atlantic Yards Report

I already critiqued the fawning interview/essay about Jay-Z in the New York Times's Sunday T Magazine ad-jammed supplement, but the cover line deserves notice too: "The Civic-Minded Hip-Hop Mogul Holds Court With Zadie Smith."

Civic-Minded? That sounds like a termed dreamed up by, or in syncrhonicity with, developer Bruce Ratner's p.r. advisors, who have him regularly self-reporting as a "civic developer," a gauzy term that implies a social mission rather than a calculation that something beyond the minimum--better architecture, subsidized housing, jobs (?!)--is necessary to get a project passed.

So, while the article, headlined "The House That Hova Built," says little about the Barclays Center, it is indeed, as I put it, "The House That Hova Hyped." Jay-Z is portrayed, at the arena, wearing expensive clothes--this is a fashion magazine supplement--and being cited for "civic" goals like making sure "Brooklyn" was part of the name of the Nets when they moved from New Jersey. (Civic? That's marketing.)

Some cautions

Not everybody was buying it. Shane Danaher wrote in Music is My Oxygen:

Yesterday’s New York Times profile of Jay-Z (courtesy of unimpeachable novelist/memoirist Zadie Smith) took a precariously laudatory tone toward its subject, a tack that helped both to highlight the Jiggaman’s extant qualities (of which there are many) as well as the contradictions that make those qualities such a tough pill to swallow.
The article’s cause célèbre—the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which will house the partly-Hova-owned New York Nets—exemplifies this apparent contradiction.
Housed in Jay-Z’s neighborhood of origin, the center will drive economic resurgence in a region long considered low on the social rungs. However, it’s hard to say whether Jay’s involvement is better described as charity or mercantilism, since he undoubtedly stands to add to his $460 million personal fortune as an upshot of the deal....

While [Smith's] optimistic view of the [latest Jay-Z/Kanye West] LP [Watch the Throne] casts it as a manifesto for community empowerment, other critics have looked with scorn on the album’s baroque materialism, especially coming as it did in the midst of the vituperative, if somewhat soft-headed, Occupy Wall Street movement.

The truth is that Smith, however talented and interesting, is not unimpeachable. neither is Jay-Z. (Oh, and the center will not "drive economic resurgence" in Jay-Z's "neighborhood of origin.")


Posted by steve at 10:33 PM

How shockingly big is the Barclays Center? Depends on how you look at it (and maybe how new you are)

Atlantic Yards Report

Some people who know the Atlantic Yards saga tend to give the Barclays Center more gentle marks than those totally new to it. After all, peaking at 137 feet, the building's not quite as big as it could be, given that the floor is some 20-25 feet below grade.

The architects covered the arena with a bands of swooping pre-rusted steel and glass, aiming to emphasize the horizontality of the building. It's sure not surrounded by the four towers initially planned, essentially burying and blocking the arena.

But consider some unvarnished reaction from newbies.

Wall Street Journal columnist Simon Constable, 9/7/12 hosted a video segment on the progress of "big infrastructure projects," though I'd say Atlantic Yards is less the latter than a "big real estate project."

Constable says, early in the video above, "This is the arena, the Barclays arena in Brooklyn, I've actually passed by it, it is enormous...." His plummy British accent makes him sound that much more authoritative.

"I was almost in shock"

Or take Nets fan Jonah Mars, writing 8/29/12 for From Russia With Dunk:

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.

Actually, if you come from the malls on the north side of the arena along Atlantic Avenue, the shock is far less, since those are big buildings on superblocks, as well.

But these examples suggest that the efforts to cut down the impact of the building only go so far.

They also suggest that seeing the building in person is necessary; the deceptive, self-serving renderings produced by the facade architect, SHoP, are no substitute.


Posted by steve at 10:31 PM

WSJ: Public benefits for big projects like Atlantic Yards lag without "carefully drawn contracts;" actually, the AY contract was carefully drawn, just with provisions giving the developer 25 years

Atlantic Yards Report

The Wall Street Journal published a round-up yesterday headlined When Big Projects Stall: Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, Like Others Across the Country, Brings Mixed Results. It's got some insight, but I have to think that when reporter Eliot Brown was writing for the New York Observer, he was allowed to be a wee bit more skeptical:

...But as the borough gears up for the brown, metal-wrapped arena's opening event, a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28 before the Nets take court this fall, the surrounding neighborhood still is waiting for housing and other benefits once touted by the developer as part of a planned $4.9 billion real-estate project known as Atlantic Yards.
As one of the largest mixed-use projects under way in the country, Atlantic Yards was meant to transform a swath of Brooklyn. But the missing pieces of the project highlight the challenges many U.S. cities face with large-scale real-estate developments that have become stalled amid a slow economic recovery, leaving them without taxes, jobs and amenities once pledged to the public.
Historically, such delays or loss of pledged benefits have been common for large private and public projects alike, said Jerold Kayden, an urban planning professor at Harvard University. "Too often, without carefully drawn contracts, the project gets built without these things," Mr. Kayden said of public benefits to large developments, "and the public ends up with the short end of the stick."

Well, there is a carefully drawn contract with Atlantic Yards. It was just carefully--and quietly--drawn so Forest City Ratner would have 25 years to build the project. The failure to study the impact of that buildout was ruled illegal, but nobody gets sanctioned for delaying the benefits.

Moreover, nobody gets sanctioned for providing cost-benefit scenarios that assumed a full buildout within a decade, rather than a range of scenarios, from optimistic to pessimistic.


Posted by steve at 10:25 PM

The mystery of the Barclays Center street banners, and the missing arena Community Affairs Manager

Atlantic Yards Report

What's up with those Barclays Center marketing banners that appeared and disappeared on Prospect Heights streets, and also remain on some other Brooklyn streets?

No one's provided a full answer yet.

On Wednesday night, Forest City Ratner External Affairs VP Ashley Cotton, queried at a community meeting, responded, "We just noticed... that is the Barclays Center marketing program, sold via NYC and Company," the city tourism agency.

Cotton should know, because she's the boss of the yet-to-be-hired Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager, who should be answering such questions pronto. (Forest City controls Brooklyn Events Center, which controls the arena.)

I asked Cotton Thursday night about the banners that disappeared in Prospect Heights. I asked the Department of Transportation yesterday. I haven't heard back. I didn't contact NYC and Company--my bad--but shouldn't someone step up to inform the public?


Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

Coming Sept. 28 along North Flatbush Ave.: merchants will be wearing Nets t-shirts, balloons in team colors outside shops

Atlantic Yards Report

From Sharon Davidson, executive director, North Flatbush Business Improvement District:

Saturday, September 28th, will be a big day in our neighborhood. The grand opening of the Barclays Center Arena.! That is why I am working with Forest City Ratner to provide Brooklyn Nets t-shirts to all of the merchants along North Flatbush Avenue to wear on opening day! Black and white balloons will be distributed to our merchants to tie up outside their shop! We expect news and media coverage in our area and the BID will also be taking out a full page ad in the Brooklyn Paper Barclays Center commerative issue to promote some of our participating restaurants! I am also working with Brooklyn Paper to promote some of our retail and service businesses in a full page spread in a special DIRECTORY, with a 35K run, which will be provided to all Brooklyn Hotels and hotels in lower Manhattan.


Posted by steve at 10:20 PM

Battle for Brooklyn documentary going national, local in next six weeks

Atlantic Yards Report

As the Barclays Center opening approaches, an alternative narrative is available in the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, which will screen in New York, in cities nationally, and on national TV. (Press and reviews here.)

New York City Dates:

Wednesday, September 19 — Brooklyn
Park Slope’s Old First Brooklyn Church - presented by the Fifth Ave Committee
Tuesday, Sept 25, 9pm — Brooklyn
Indiescreen, Brooklyn
Tuesday, Sept 25 — Staten Island
ETG cafe on Staten Island Wednesday, Sept 26 — Brooklyn
Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society as part of Brooklyn Reconstructed
Thursday, Sept 27 — Manhattan
Maysles Cinema in Harlem
Bronx and Queens screenings TBA

Nationwide Dates:

Chicago, September 24, 7pm at Facets
Fort Lauderdale, September 24, 7pm at Cinema Paradiso
Washington, D.C., September 25 at West End Cinema
Seattle, September 25 at the Northwest Film Forum
Bellingham, WA, October 1 at Pickford Film Center
Dallas, October 1 at Studio Movie Grille

Nationwide screenings of the film will include a recently filmed Q & A with the filmmakers and the film’s protagonist and a discussion after the film with the audience.

On national TV

A press release:

DIRECTV's Audience Network, known for its daring entertainment programming, will take viewers a step further into the realm of the deeply provocative with the premiere of Something to Talk About, a series of socially and culturally relevant documentaries presented in association with Brainstorm Media, beginning in October exclusively on DIRECTV. In certain cities, the films will be screened in theaters starting in late September and, in select locations, will include live discussions following the screenings.
The twelve-part series will kick-off with the broadcast premiere of BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN, on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT


Posted by steve at 10:12 PM

September 7, 2012

"It's a Crime!" New web site targets Atlantic Yards failures, announces vigil, protests geared to arena opening weekend

Atlantic Yards Report

A new web site, Atlantic Yards Crime Scene, has appeared, targeting secret deals, crony capitalism, and the failure to deliver "a plan that puts families, communities, and the public first."

The four sponsors--Brown Community Development Corporation, BrooklynSpeaks, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, and Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE)--also announce a series of protest actions during the opening weekend for the Barclays Center, not specifically targeting the arena.

  • 9/27, 7PM: Candlelight vigil @ Barclays Center
  • 9/28, 11AM: Press conference @ Barclays Center
  • 9/28, 12PM - 4PM: Popup actions @ Barclays Center
  • 9/28, 5PM: Virtual rally—tweet #BarclaysCenter and @AYCrimeScene for housing and jobs now
  • 9/28, 8PM: Free outdoor screening of Battle For Brooklyn @ Dean Playground (Dean St. between 6th Ave. and Carlton Ave.)
  • 9/29, 4PM: FUREE March for Housing, Jobs and Justice @ Bridge St. and Willoughby St. (this march to Barclays Center concludes FUREE’s 10th Annual Convention @ 80 Willoughby St. 12PM-4PM)

The web site will be updated, and there's an @AYCrimeScene Twitter account.


Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

"September is Just the Beginning" banners that mysteriously appeared on Prospect Heights streets mysteriously removed

Atlantic Yards Report

Now you see them, now you don't. Apparently September is not the beginning.

Last night, some 24 hours after a few dozen "September is Just the Beginning" banners appeared on light poles on Prospect Height streets near the Barclays Center arena, most were removed.

Why? I'm hoping to find out.

Friday morning on Sixth Ave.

Thursday morning on Sixth Ave. (same spot)


NoLandGrab: Good riddance.

Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

AY District Service Cabinet to be replaced by Quality of Life Committee; "Day 2 Task Force" gearing up for arena opening, but details murky (what about Atlantic Antic?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The big news yesterday at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting yesterday was the Barclays Center's scramble toward the finish line, with a delay in the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy and silence about once-promised pre-opening events.

However, government officials also shared other significant information, including not-yet-clear plans for a "Day 2 Task Force" to address arena operations and a transformation of the District Service Cabinet--a bimonthly morning meeting that included agency officials, elected officials and developer Forest City, with no public input--into a committee meeting in the evenings to focus more narrowly on quality-of-life issues.

While that transformation should increase input from neighbors, both as committee members and visitors, the impact on accountability is less clear, given that the District Service Cabinet has sometimes been the venue for Forest City to face probing questions from elected officials about Atlantic Yards issues beyond quality of life.


Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

Brick By Brick: Final Edition

A last look at the construction of an arena years in the making.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

In October 2010, Patch began the first in a series of features tracking the progress at what was then a cleared-out lot at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, promising "to take note as each beam is raised and each wall is erected."

Nearly two years later, there are few, if any, beams left to be raised, and no more walls left to be built.

Barclays Center is ready for its close up... almost.


Related content...

Business Insider, A Construction Worker Posted Photos From Inside The Barclays Center On Instagram

Someone who appears to be a construction worker working on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn posted nearly 50 photos of the exterior and interior of the arena on Instagram, where they were quickly noticed and picked up by NetsDaily contributor @OctoberGR8NESS.

The photos, which were posted by Instagram user jefisher62, were quickly removed. ...

Check out the full collection of photos on NetsDaily.

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

A round-up of promotional Barclays Center tidbits in the Metro newspaper; is arena designed by Frank Gehry and in Fort Greene?

Atlantic Yards Report

From the ESPN the Magazine school of "journalism"...

The free daily Metro is offering a "tidbit daily" about the Barclays Center arena until opening day on Friday, Sept. 28.

While the tidbits seem as promotional as the sponsored special section that appeared Aug. 28, some of them have rookie errors that seem prepared not with the help of the arena's p.r. consultants but by an intern working from a not-quite-complete clip file.

(Note: the arena's not designed by Frank Gehry; he did the original design. The arena's designed by Ellerbe Becket and SHoP.)


Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Brooklyn residents last gasp complaints over Barclays arena traffic and garbage before opening Sept. 28

Prospect Heights complain and worry about what's about to happen to their neighborhood

NY Daily News
by Reuven Blau

Residents near the Barclays Center lashed out at Forest City Ratner officials Wednesday over anticipated parking and trash problems before the arena opens in three weeks.

More than 150 angry Prospect Heights locals showed up at a meeting to complain about how the neighborhood was soon going to be taken over by thousands of cars and revelers expected for each basketball game and concert.

“You put an arena in a residential area and that's what's going to happen,” said Anthony Reves, 30, as he walked home after the meeting started at Latin Evangelical Free Church at 506 Bergen St.

FCR official Ashley Cotton told the audience the bright lights outside the arena would be turned off from 1 to 5 a.m. night and delivery trucks would be assigned to a specific route on main roads in an effort to reduce traffic down residential blocks.

Before the meeting started, community activist Tracy Collins, 48, stood outside reminiscing about the six year struggle. “I don't expect much to come of this,” he said.

Asked if he'd be attending events at the arena, he responded, "I don't envision myself paying money to see something at Barclays. I feel like I've already paid enough."


NoLandGrab: Wow, a whole four hours! We're surprised they didn't start out at two hours and say they'd been merciful.

Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, 2012 Barclays Center Arena Neighborhood Protection Plan Meeting

Speaking of Tracy Collins...

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Brooklyn Nets have the sizzle, but will the steak follow?

by Joe Favorito

Last week the Brooklyn Nets started their countdown clock to the long-discussed opening of Americas newest showplace, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Not a day goes by without another announcement of a concert, high school hoops extravaganza, new billboard going up, community visit, concert or “innovation” as the organization continues to scream “Look at Me” to anyone who will listen or not.

There is probably no organization on the planet which has tried as hard to find ways to place itself in the media than the Nets and the Barclays Center in the past 18 months. From the added exposure coming from Kris Humphries’ ill-fated and short lived Kardashian experience, to the constant push of brand partners and the man who is pulling the pieces together from a sales side (Brett Yormark), everyone has at least a casual knowledge of where the Nets will be. Every day there is a reason to at least be intrigued by the goings-on in Brooklyn, whether you like NBA basketball or not.

Some questions, however, remain unanswered. Will the team play well enough to have fans show up night in and night out for games against subpar opponents? Will the arena be a technological innovation along the lines of Kansas City’s Livestrong Park, which has emerged as the most tech-savvy of all new facilities to date? Will die-hard Knicks fans who have to traverse Penn Station on their daily commutes be drawn consistently to an aggressive vibe in Brooklyn? What happens when the sizzle comes off the new arena in a years time?

Old habits are tough to break, and that’s when the real selling will come in, on the rainy days when there are few “firsts” left in the Nets bag of tricks.


Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

ESPN: "Hello, Brooklyn" (and how about that arena in "Fort Greene")

Atlantic Yards Report

From the 9/17/12/ issue of ESPN the Magazine, a one page annotated graphic hyping "Hello, Brooklyn," suggesting that "the borough the Dodgers made famous is once again having a sports moment."

Well, yes, there is a new team.

I'm not quite sure what the Brooklyn Boulders, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Hipster Williamsburg, and Mike Tyson's Bushwick (getting hipster-y, actually), have in common with the "Center of the Center," as ESPN dubs the Barclays Center arena, other than sharing the vast borough we call home.

But I am sure that the arena is 1) not located in Fort Greene and 2) thus not located, where it's placed, above Atlantic Avenue near Fort Greene Park.


NoLandGrab: At least they refrained from invoking The New York Times's favorite trope package: the Park Slope Food Coop, arugula, Birkenstocks and Socialism.

Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

DIRECTV and Brainstorm Media partner to Present Socially Relevant and Critically Acclaimed Documentaries on TV and in Theaters this Fall

“Something to Talk About” to Feature Broadcast Premieres of Award-Winning Documentaries, including “Battle for Brooklyn,” and “Big Boys Gone Bananas!*,” Exclusively on DIRECTV’s Audience Network and in Theatres


DIRECTV’s Audience Network, known for its daring entertainment programming, will take viewers a step further into the realm of the deeply provocative with the premiere of Something to Talk About, a series of socially and culturally relevant documentaries presented in association with Brainstorm Media, beginning in October exclusively on DIRECTV. In certain cities, the films will be screened in theaters starting in late September and, in select locations, will include live discussions following the screenings.

The twelve-part series will kick-off with the broadcast premiere of BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN, on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT which will be followed by BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. From award-winning and acclaimed writers and directors, each documentary will include a special, hosted introduction and will conclude with a filmmaker interview that provides an update on the current state of the documentary issue. The films will also be available on DIRECTV on Demand, DIRECTV Everywhere, on home video and via electronic sell-thru.


Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Neighbors in the News: Barclays, Books, and The Bachelorette

Park Slope Stoop

Today, WNET talks to watchdog journalist Norman Oder, who’s been hawkishly documenting the Atlantic Yards Project since 2005 on his blog, Atlantic Yards Report. For regular AYR readers, the interview covers pretty familiar turf: Atlantic Yards’ “culture of cheating,” the lack of substantive media coverage, the next phases of the project, post-Barclays. But if you’re not tracking the Oder’s daily posts — and even if you are, (although at a certain point, go look at some cat memes or something, you deserve it!) — it’s worth a read. (Technically, Oder’s actually in Ditmas Park, but given his PS cred, we’re claiming him.)


Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

September 6, 2012

Looking at "The House That Hova Hyped," the Times T Magazine supplement feature on Jay-Z

Atlantic Yards Report

There's almost nothing about the Barclays Center in The House That Hova Built, novelist Zadie Smith's fawning interview/essay about Jay-Z in the New York Times's Sunday T Magazine ad-jammed supplement, but all the photos--the fashion spread, with their high-priced accoutrements--are set there.

And Jay-Z is declared Brooklyn's "once and future king."

Call it "The House That Hova Hyped" and consider it a win-win for arena promoters and Jay-Z, and another example of the Times's less-than-exacting coverage of Atlantic Yards. (There's no disclosure, of course, of developer Forest City Ratner's relationship with the Times.)

Looking at AY

Smith writes:

Jay-Z likes clarity: “I think all those things need to really declare themselves a bit more clearly. Because when you just say that ‘the 1 percent is that,’ that’s not true. Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”

Except that house that he "built," the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards is far from free enterprises: a sports team in a cartel of a league, with a "done deal" announced from the start.

She writes:

Heavy responsibility lands on the shoulders of these unacknowledged legislators whose poetry is only, after all, four decades young. Jay-Z’s ready for it. He has his admirable Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, putting disadvantaged kids through college. He’s spoken in support of gay rights. He’s curating music festivals and investing in environmental technologies. This October, his beloved Nets take up residence in their new home — the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 10:56 PM

The House That Hova Built

The New York Times
by Zadie Smith

Synergy! You build us a new office tower, we'll run a big, softball, pseudo-literary fashion piece on your frontman and your arena three weeks before he opens it with a series of concerts.

With Tupac, you can hear the effort, the artistry. And Biggie’s words first had to struggle free of the sheer bulk of the man himself. When Jay raps, it pours right into your ear like water from a tap.

Or subsidies from the ESDC.

The fish sandwich arrives. Conversation turns to the schoolboy who was shot to death, Trayvon Martin — “It’s really heartbreaking, that that still can happen in this day and age” — and, soon after, to Obama: “I’ve said the election of Obama has made the hustler less relevant.” When he first made this point, “People took it in a way that I was almost dismissing what I am. And I was like: no, it’s a good thing!” He didn’t have Obama growing up, only the local hustler. “No one came to our neighborhoods, with stand-up jobs, and showed us there’s a different way. Maybe had I seen different role models, maybe I’d’ve turned on to that.”

Um, no. When local hustler Bruce Ratner came to his (former) neighborhood, he was all in.


Posted by eric at 10:42 PM

Battle for Brooklyn, About Atlantic Yards Fight, To Screen Nationwide and In 5 Boroughs

Battle for Brooklyn, The True Story of How the Soon-to-Open Barclays Center Arena Came to Be, To Screen Across the Nation and In All Five Boroughs

Press Release via Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

At the 2010 groundbreaking ceremony for the Barclays Center, just one portion of the massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, Mayor Bloomberg intoned, "No one's going remember how long it took. They're only gonna look and see that it was done."

Battle for Brooklyn will ensure that, despite the Mayor’s wishful thinking, people won’t forget.

Amidst the growing hoopla and hype of the Brooklyn Barclays Center September 28th opening, Jay-Z concerts and the Brooklyn Nets arrival on the scene, the other story of the eight year fight and controversy that swirled around the arena and the rest of the Atlantic Yards project, the critically acclaimed, award-winning feature film, Battle for Brooklyn, will premiere at select theaters across the nation and screen in each of New York's five boroughs.

New York City Dates:

Wednesday, September 19 -- Brooklyn
Park Slope’s Old First Brooklyn Church - presented by the Fifth Ave Committee

Tuesday, Sept 25, 9pm -- Brooklyn
Indiescreen, Brooklyn

Tuesday, Sept 25 -- Staten Island
ETG cafe on Staten Island

Wednesday, Sept 26 -- Brooklyn
Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society as part of Brooklyn Reconstructed

Thursday, Sept 27 -- Manhattan
Maysles Cinema in Harlem

Bronx and Queens screenings TBA

Nationwide Dates:

Chicago, September 24, 7pm at Facets

Fort Lauderdale, September 24, 7pm at Cinema Paradiso

Washington, D.C., September 25 at West End Cinema

Seattle, September 25 at the Northwest Film Forum

Bellingham, WA, October 1 at Pickford Film Center

Dallas, October 1 at Studio Movie Grille

Nationwide screenings of the film will include a recently filmed Q & A with the filmmakers and the film’s protagonist and a discussion after the film with the audience.


Posted by eric at 10:10 PM

Stern: Brooklyn move means revenue jump to Nets

Atlantic Yards Report

So why again did we taxpayers have to give Bruce Ratner a billion dollars in subsidies and tax breaks?

From Bloomberg News, Stern Sees Nets’ Revenue In NBA’s Top Five With Move To Brooklyn:

The National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern said the Brooklyn Nets may jump into the league’s five highest revenue teams in the franchise’s first season in the Barclays Center.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit hosted by Bloomberg Link in New York, Stern also stressed the league’s desire to increase its brand in India, the world’s second most- populous country. Those inroads include a Hindi-English website, television agreements, tournaments and possibly a league that bears the NBA name.

The Nets’ revenue should improve from “pretty bad” during their last season in Newark, New Jersey, to one of the league’s top five or six, according to Stern.

“The Nets have these wonderful tent-pole sponsorships, they’re doing spectacularly in their season-ticket sales and they have retained a team that, in reading about it, looks like they’re going to compete,” he said.

So, did anyone quantify the value of selling "Brooklyn" to arena and team operators? No.


Related content...

Bloomberg, Stern Sees Nets’ Revenue in NBA’s Top Five With Move to Brooklyn

“I’m not looking at a lot of movement, but I am looking at a lot of price increases simply because when someone offers you a very high price for your asset, you have to decide whether you’re in it to pass it to your family or if it’s an asset that you may love but may not love enough to turn down a very high offer,” [NBA Commissioner David Stern] said.

Posted by eric at 10:01 PM

Residents to Barclays Owners: You Have the Clout to Protect Our Neighborhoods

If Ratner has the power to build the arena, it has the pull to ensure adequate police and sanitation services, those living near Atlantic Yards said at public meeting.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

You know you're in trouble when you're relying on Forest City Ratner to protect your neighborhood.

Frustration bubbled over last night at a public meeting discussing how to handle illegally parked cars, litter-strewn yards and other anticipated problems once the Barclays Center opens later this month.

Of the some 100 people who came to Bergen Street’s Iglesia Latina Evengelica two blocks from the arena, there seemed to be a number of new faces along with the seasoned regulars leading to fresh reactions to familiar responses from Forest City Ratner, which is developing the Atlantic Yards site.

But for such issues as residential parking permits, rats and double-parked cars, Ratner officials said they didn’t have jurisdiction outside of their property to help with such matters and directed residents to consult with the the NYPD and Department of Sanitation.

While this response is expected by repeated meeting attendees, several newer participants at last night’s meeting responded with pique, saying that if Ratner has the political pull to get the arena built, they had the influence to get resident-only parking permits passed in Albany and to make sure the police and sanitation departments have enough manpower to provide adequate enforcement and services.


Posted by eric at 9:51 PM

Crime Report: Thumb Severed In Attack

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

In the House That Bruce Built, crime took center stage again this week.

iPhones Snatched

A pickpocket stole a 24-year-old woman’s iPhone from her purse while she shopped at the Mandee department store on Flatbush Avenue, between Fourth and Atlantic Avenues, on Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m., police said.

Flatbush Avenue, between Fourth and Atlantic Avenues, is better known as Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Terminal mall.

Target Targeted

Someone stole a flat-screen television and two DVD players – valued at more than $1,000 – from the Target at the Atlantic Terminal Mall between noon on Aug. 31 and 3 p.m. on Aug. 2, police said.

Bag Taken at Daffy’s

A crook grabbed a 26-year-old woman’s bag from the stroller she hung it on while she shopped at Daffy’s department store inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall on Aug. 28, between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., police said. The woman told cops she didn’t see anyone steal her bag, which contained her wallet, debit card, MetroCard, a camera and some clothing.


Posted by eric at 9:44 PM

What Goes Up, if Only in Stages

The New York Times
by Philip Nobel

No "Nobel" Prize for this article — The Times continues to dismiss (and fails to cover) completely legitimate neighborhood concerns about Bruce Ratner's basketball arena.

Two long-anticipated projects, both with long histories of controversy, will be completed — at least partly completed — in the city in the next year.

For star appeal, media fuss and renewed bouts of neighborhood grumbling, it may be hard to beat the opening of Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That building will be the first completed element of the extensive Atlantic Yards development, a plan that has been the focus of protests since the project was announced in 2003. The striking raw-steel-clad structure, designed by SHoP Architects of New York, will open on Sept. 28 with the first of an eight-night run of sold-out concerts by the performer, impresario and part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z. The Nets, kicking off an interborough rivalry, will play their first home game there against the Knicks on Nov. 1.


NoLandGrab: Hey, isn't that arena being built by The New York Times's development partner?

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Scrambling toward the finish line: TCO for Barclays Center is delayed until next week; "public events and tours" in "first several weeks" of September to introduce community not announced

Atlantic Yards Report

Ruh-roh, Raggy!

Scrambling to get the Barclays Center in operating shape--if not final shape--in time for the grand opening on September 28, Forest City Ratner officials today acknowledged that they were behind in what was already a tight schedule.

The "substantial completion date," when the arena would get a temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO) from the city Department of Buildings has been nudged back several times, in April 2011 from Aug. 12 to Aug. 27, and in February 2012 to Sept. 5, yesterday.

And even though the construction monitor for arena bondholders, Merritt & Harris, has dutifully reported that Sept. 5 date, most lately in a report dated 8/7/12, now the goal is sometime next week.

“The schedule for turnover by Hunt [Construction] to Forest City is today," Forest City executive Jane Marshall said this morning at a meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, a bi-monthly meeting of involved agencies. "There is--that's not a deadline for them, they don’t get penalized... they earn something if they do it by certain dates... We think, in general, the arena is on track for getting a TCO probably next week. And at that point it will be turned over to arena operations. And I’m not sure when the permanent C of O would be--it doesn't need to be [there] for opening.”


Posted by eric at 1:15 PM

Wary neighbors express concern about arena's operating impact; Council Member Levin suggests "facts on ground" after opening will spur changes; FCR nudges position on permit parking

Atlantic Yards Report

A wary, worried audience of Barclays Center neighbors--perhaps 120 people--came to a Prospect Heights church last night to hear two Forest City Ratner executives explain how the arena will interact with and impact neighbors and to provide an update on a proposed Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP).

The latter was proposed by three civic groups, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Boerum Hill Association, and the Park Slope Civic Council, and includes such things as increased trash pickup, a dedicated hotline for community concerns, and residential parking permits (RPP).

Despite the cordial presence of Forest City’s Ashley Cotton and Jane Marshall, the developer has bent only a little; for example, it will fund garbage pickup on key corners on Dean and Pacific streets on the path to the Barclays Center from the on-site parking lot, but will not address the routes arena-goers will take to local subway stations.

The question of parking

The biggest issue, clearly, is parking, with residents facing an already competitive search for on-street parking fearful that an influx of arena-goers seeking free parking will flood the neighborhood, despite exhortations to use mass transit and pre-pay for spaces area parking lots.

"It's going to wreck our neighborhood," one attendee exclaimed.

Council Member Steve Levin, a supporter of the NPP and so-far nixed residential permit parking (RPP), gave a philosophical prediction: “I think the facts on the ground are probably going to be significant enough that a lot of things are eventually going to be adopted.”


Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

The Beat Goes On: Q&A With Atlantic Yards Watchdog Journalist Norman Oder

MetroFocus [Thirteen.org]
by Georgia Kral

MetroFocus spoke with [Atlantic Yards Report's Norman] Oder about the ongoing Atlantic Yards story, press coverage of the development and the “culture of cheating.”

Q: The Barclays Center is built. Will those who have been fighting the development for so long continue to do so?

A: There’s been a shift in that some of the activists and organizations most involved with fighting Atlantic Yards have receded. They’re not gone and as I understand it there’s something going on with a broad range of groups for the weekend the arena opens.

The fact that the arena is opening is neither here nor there when it comes to accountability. The broad story [of Atlantic Yards] is about accountability.

Q: Do you feel the entire Atlantic Yards development has been shrouded in deceit?

A: This is not my off-the-cuff personal opinion, it’s a considered judgment based on immersion in the subject. There are numerous examples of what might be called the culture of cheating.

The Community Benefits Agreement promised an independent compliance monitor [to monitor the project] but they’ve never hired one and instead Forest City Ratner [the developer] self reports. In 2010, Bruce Ratner was interviewed by Matthew Schuerman on WNYC and he said 10 years had never been the timeframe for completing Atlantic Yards. Schuerman said that was the time they [Forest City Ratner] had consistently projected. That looks like cheating to me. It’s not criminal, but it’s misleading.

Lot's more where that came from.


Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

While there may be enough offsite parking lot spaces to meet demand, too few, for now, are part of the pre-paid inventory

Atlantic Yards Report

Will there really be enough off-site parking lot spaces to serve demand for the Barclays Center?

There should be enough spaces, at least according to a consultant's memo, but only one-third of the facilities listed in a memorandum (also at bottom) are currently part of the "seamless" pre-paid parking system aimed to steer drivers directly to the parking lots rather than meander Brooklyn streets.

Forest City Ratner VP Jane Marshall explained last night that parking vendors may be waiting to see how arena parking demand evolves, but more should be joining the Click and Park inventory. That's plausible, but it sure reinforces the notion that the first few months of arena operations will be something of an experiment.

And the brownstone residential neighborhoods nearest the Barclays Center will be the petri dish.


Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

NY Times Report On Public Officials Suing On `Broadening' LIBOR/Barclays Scandal Doesn’t `Broaden' To Mention “Barclays” Center

Noticing New York

In a new article (in today’s print edition) the New York Times has continued reporting about how government officials around the country are “working intensely behind the scenes to build a case for suing the nation’s largest banks” in connection with the LIBOR/Barclays rate fixing scandal. . . .

(See: Banks Face Suits as States Weigh Libor Losses, by Nathaniel Popper, September 4, 2012.)

. . . It’s the second Times article about such government lawsuits. Once again, the article doesn’t report that local New York government lawsuits against Barclays Bank would occur, ironically, just as the New York taxpayers are providing massive subsidy for the promotion of Barclays Bank with the opening of the Ratner/Prokhorov basketball arena to which the “Barclays” name is being affixed.

Click through for more, including a quiz challenging readers to guess the difference between The Times's real estate and sports sections.


Posted by eric at 12:36 PM

Better Know a District - New York's 9th - Yvette Clarke

Representative Yvette Clarke believes that rich people like Stephen could still create jobs without their Bush tax cuts.

The Colbert Report

And she also believes that the Dutch were enslaving Brooklynites in 1898.

Professional basketball has now come to the district, with the rechristened Brooklyn Nets, who are partly owned by rapper Jay-Z. Yes, they got 99 problems, all of which involve winning at basketball.


Posted by eric at 12:28 PM



If I had $1000 I would not decide to invest in Barclays because after looking at their past history, they have not had huge stock since 2007, and they almost went out of business in 2008.

The only positive thing I have found about Barclays is they own the naming rights to the new Brooklyn Nets Arena.


NoLandGrab: Who needs negatives if that's the positive.

Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

Kids Chosen for Brooklyn Nets Dance Team After Open-Call Auditions

by Janet Upadhye

There's something really disturbing about a kids'-size Brooklyn Nets halter top.

Hundreds of kids accompanied by their siblings and parents arrived at Long Island University’s recreation center for an open call to audition for the Brooklyn Nets Kids dance team.

Parents arrived on Navy Street outside of the university as early as 9:30 a.m. with camping chairs in tow, hoping their children would be the first to audition at 4 p.m.

“Over 400 talented dancers attended the open call,” said Kimberlee Garris, Director of Entertainment Marketing for the Nets. “This was the biggest kids audition the Nets have ever held.”

Some kids were dressed to put on a show, with ribbons and glitter in their hair, sparkly leg warmers, bedazzled sneakers, and styled Brooklyn Nets T-shirts.

Less than a week later the calls were made. Ultimately, the judges chose 17 kids to represent the Nets during weekend home games in Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

"September is Just the Beginning" banners suddenly appear on Prospect Heights streets

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner rolls out a threat to residents of Prospect Heights.

Residents of Prospect Heights, notably Dean and Pacific streets near the Barclays Center arena, woke up this morning to see banners advertising the arena attached to light poles, making the residential streets just a bit more commercial.

There were approximately six on Dean between Carlton and Vanderbilt and seven on Pacific a block away. Such banners are also on Sixth Avenue and, I'm sure, be spotted on several other streets.

People went to bed last night, woke up, and saw "banners all over our neighborhood," asked Pacific Street resident Wayne Bailey at a community meeting tonight on the proposed Neighborhood Protection Plan, echoing widespread dismay.

"We just noticed," replied Forest City Ratner External Affairs VP Ashley Cotton, who explained that "that is the Barclays Center marketing program, sold via NYC and Company," the city tourism agency. Perhaps any residential street is subject to such banners--at least if they're on a path to a facility like the arena.


Photo: Tracy Collins

Related coverage...

mcbrooklyn, Black, Vaguely Menacing Banners Blanket Prospect Heights

Creepy black banners with an X-ray-style image of a seemingly radioactive cityscape under the chilling words, "September Is Just the Beginning" have suddenly appeared all over Prospect Heights.

Terrorist threat?

Forest City Ratner says no, it's just "the Barclays Center marketing program, sold via NYC and Company," the city tourism agency.

Great imagery, guys.

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

The Pacific St. Edition of ‘What’s in a Name?’

2nd Ave. Sagas
by Benjamin Kabak

Nothing though has generated more angst than the corporate naming rights deal at the former Atlantic Ave.-Pacific St. subway stop. For $200,000 a year for 20 years, Barclays has appended the name of its sponsored arena to the station, and Transit has dropped poor neglected Pacific St. Although the arena doesn’t open until month’s end, the station signage has been updated, and the IRT FIND displays are sporting some decidedly low tech decals. Even as protest t-shirts spring up, the station is now, for better or worse, Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center.

But is Pacific St. supposed to have been left to the dustbins of history? Tough to say, says Norman Oder in a recent post at his Atlantic Yards Report. Noting that the signage wasn’t supposed to debut until the arena actually opened, Oder questions the MTA’s handling of the name change.

As Oder notes, the signs weren’t supposed to be revealed until the “Beneficial Use of the Subway Entrance is achieved.” In non-legalese, that essentially means that the date of the name change should have been the date the new subway entrance is available for public use. That clearly hasn’t happened yet. The signage, however, has changed, and the pre-recorded announcements trumpet “Atlantic Ave.-Barclays Center.” Consider it a few months of free advertising.


Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

House Hunting on a Brooklyn Nets’ Budget

Ditmas Park Corner

...wants to set the record straight on the Nets' Deron Williams's mistaken belief that one can't find a place with four bedrooms in Brooklyn.

As neighbor Gordon Rothman, who pointed us to this story, says, “Someone needs to give him a tour.”

In July, Williams signed a five-year contract with the Nets worth almost $100 million. For less than 2% of that, his family could be sitting very comfortably in a completely renovated standalone house in the Ditmas Park area. We’re only about four miles from the stadium, and the traffic will probably be better than coming in from Manhattan (though it’ll still be quicker to take the subway–Atlantic is just seven stops from Cortelyou on the Q).


Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy

Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

Are the Nets' corporate offices really a nest of KGB spies? Don't say we didn't tell you so.

If Boris Volodarsky is correct, then Prokhorov’s riches stem from his approval by the Russian Secret Service, and the decision to buy the Nets had to be one made by the shadow KGB . No one, especially a foreigner, can buy into the NBA without approval of the league. So what did the league do? NBA commissioner David Stern, always eager to trumpet the game’s global expansion, said Nets fans could feel good about Prokhrov.

“I think that any investor who stepped into the opportunity he did would be important and bring excitement, because it’s the final step in ensuring that there will be a brand new building in Brooklyn and the Nets will return to New York,” said Stern.

So, if Boris Volodarsky is to be believed, the Russian secret service now has a fully legal operation ensconced in the head offices of the Nets. Time will tell what effect this may have.


Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

September 5, 2012

Forest City: Barclays Center ribbon-cutting will be Sept. 21; Investor Day at arena will be Oct. 22

Atlantic Yards Report

There will be a "formal ribbon-cutting event" to mark the opening of the Barclays Center arena on Friday, Sept. 21, David LaRue, CEO of Forest City Enterprises (parent of arena developer Forest City Ratner), said today.

(That's one week before the first concert, with Jay-Z, on Sept. 28.)

LaRue and other executives participated in a quarterly conference call with investment analysts, following up yesterday's press release regarding second quarter results.

CFO Bob O'Brien also provided an update on Investor Day, which will be held at the arena on Monday, Oct. 22. He said it would be an afternoon event, with optional evening activities, including a concert at the arena.

The event, he said, would help introduce new investors to Forest City and update them on the company's progress, as well as provide a closer look at the arena and Atlantic Yards.


Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

Unbuilt towers and a hovercraft perspective: what's wrong with common Barclays Center rendering (plus an accurate panorama from Tracy Collins)

Atlantic Yards Report

With a project on which nothing is on the level, it's no surprise that the renderings are crooked, too.

What does the Barclays Center really look like? A common rendering from SHoP Architects (used on the official Atlantic Yards web site and an arena operations presentation) appears at right, misleading viewers with unbuilt towers and a hovercraft perspective.

The image, for example, appears on Time Out, which says:

The controversial Atlantic Yards development—stalled by eminent-domain lawsuits and recessional money woes—took nearly a decade, but finally the project's centerpiece, the 18,000-seat Barclays Center, will begin hosting events in September. Most notably, the arena will be home to the borough's first major pro sports team since the Dodgers left in 1957, when the Brooklyn Nets start the 2012–13 NBA season. Before they hit the court, team minority owner Jay-Z will christen the space with an inaugural series of concerts....

What it really looks like

Photographer Tracy Collins went to the north side of Atlantic Avenue outside the Atlantic Terminal mall and attempted to duplicate the perspective, coming up with the image below, a panorama of four photos.

What's wrong

In a discussion with Collins, we discerned several distortions in the rendering by SHoP.

First, the hovercraft effect. Collins's photo is shot at eye level, about six feet up. The rendering appears to be the work of someone standing on his shoulder. Note the height of the subway entrance.

Second, the rendering portrays the arena as far less broad than in Collins's panorama. Had he moved further east down Atlantic Avenue to Fort Greene Place to be more precise--and to line up the edge of the subway entrance with the letters R and C of "BARCLAYS," the arena would have stretched even more horizontally. It would have been wider, and the canopy would have been even more prominent. It might have been impossible to get "BARCLAYS CENTER" fully in the photo.

Third, consider that in the SHoP image, the Atlantic Center mall is roughly the same height as the arena. Collins's panorama suggests that the arena, which peaks at 137 feet, is bigger.

Fourth, take a look at the tiny automobiles along Atlantic Avenue in the rendering. The vantage point in the SHoP image is actually closer to the Atlantic Center mall on the north side of Atlantic, but the cars are far smaller than in Collins's panorama.


Panorama copyright Tracy Collins; permission required for re-use

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

I'll be talking about Atlantic Yards on WBAI today at 4 pm on "Talk Back!"

Atlantic Yards Report

I'll be talking Atlantic Yards jobs, housing, and more at 4 pm today on Hugh Hamilton's Talk Back! news/talk show specializing in political discourse and public policy on WBAI, Pacifica Radio, in New York 99.5 FM (show streaming/archive). There should be time for callers.


Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

Neighborhood Protection Plan meeting tonight; I'd bet on a concession; some pending questions; AY DSC meeting Thursday

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on a couple imminent meetings.

Tonight, a 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)

Protecting quality of life for residents around the arena

Join Ashley Cotton and Jane Marshall of Forest City Ratner in a discussion about protecting the quality of life of those living and working near Barclays Center once it opens. Issues include crowd control, safety, clean streets and sidewalks, traffic, parking and more. Bring your questions and concerns.

Local elected officials and civic groups have proposed a Neighborhood Protection Plan, modeled on plans of other sports facilities around the country. The plan can be read here.

Another key meeting will be Thursday at 9:30 am at Borough Hall: the bi-monthly meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, which includes involves city and state agencies and offers an opportunity for elected officials, though not the public, to ask questions.

Expect an update from the "Day Two Task Force" headed by the elusively quiet Lolita Jackson, the city official tasked with coordinating city agency responses to arena events.

Also, perhaps, we'll hear about the promised but not yet implemented sub-committee on quality-of-life issues.


NoLandGrab: Maybe it's us, but wouldn't a more effective Neighborhood Protection Plan have involved doing everything possible to stop the thing from being built in the first place?

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM


Dime Magazine
by Dylan Murphy

Of course native Brooklyn-ers might jump ship and leave the Knicks hanging, but I envision these Nets as a pseudo-Cowboys – representative of something larger, a certain style, if not particularly worldwide or “America.”

But the simple idea that a franchise could steal fans previously attached to another team hints at a larger sports-centric enigma: why do we root for these teams, anyway? There was nothing particularly alarming about Beck’s piece. I always knew, somewhere, that NBA players generally don’t live where they play. But to be confronted with that reality strikes a peculiar absurdity in the realm of NBA fandom, because there’s nothing particularly personal about our connection to franchises and players. Really, they’re all just a bunch of hired mercenaries jumping from team to team (How many players stay on one team their entire career? Almost none.) building their own resumes and legacies, which seemingly contrasts the team-first mentality of basketball. And, even if winning is their truest priority, it’s only in the me-first sense.


Posted by eric at 10:41 AM


F***ed in Park Slope

Did you hear that the Barclays Center is Rusting?

Neither had I, so I took to the streets to see for myself. As I walked down 5th Ave, pausing to stop at a few favored watering holes, I thought, surely this must be an egregious rumor that bears little truth, because why would a brand new arena that hasn't even opened yet already appear aged with rust?!

Boy, was I wrong. Turns out, the damn thing is actually covered in rust! There it stands, larger than life in Brooklyn’s busiest shitshow of an intersection, with a woven pattern of rusted metal that, as it turns out, is deliberate.


Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

Nets Won't Live In Brooklyn: Report

Players choose New Jersey, Manhattan over borough digs.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Where's Marty Markowitz's outrage?

When the final buzzer hits at Barclays Center, it'll be more "Goodbye" than "Hello, Brooklyn" for the starting lineup of the Nets.

According to the New York Times, Brooklyn Nets players are passing on making the borough of Kings home—instead opting for living arrangements in New Jersey and Manhattan.

“Brooklyn has some great places,” Nets point guard Deron Williams said. “But four bedrooms, they don’t have it.”


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

Nets Won't Live In Brooklyn: Report

Players choose New Jersey, Manhattan over borough digs.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Where's Marty Markowitz's outrage?

When the final buzzer hits at Barclays Center, it'll be more "Goodbye" than "Hello, Brooklyn" for the starting lineup of the Nets.

According to the New York Times, Brooklyn Nets players are passing on making the borough of Kings home—instead opting for living arrangements in New Jersey and Manhattan.

“Brooklyn has some great places,” Nets point guard Deron Williams said. “But four bedrooms, they don’t have it.”


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

September 4, 2012

Forest City Enterprises: as of July, 75 percent of forecasted arena revenue under contract (but August had gains)

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, the Barclays Center is moving ever closer to a hugely hyped opening, but revenues, it seems, are not quite there--though presumably the opening won't hurt.

From a press release issued today by Forest City Enterprises, Forest City Reports Fiscal 2012 Second-Quarter and Year-to-Date Results, regarding activity up through 7/31/12:

In Brooklyn, plans are being finalized for the opening events at Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards. Of the more than 200 events planned for arena's first year of operations, approximately 195 were already committed as of the end of the second quarter, and ticket sales to date are meeting the company's expectations. As the opening approaches, interest in suite sales and additional sponsorship opportunities is also accelerating. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for September 21 and Forest City is planning an Investor Day event at the arena for October 22. Approximately 75 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract.

Given that Honda and GEICO both signed on in August, after the second quarter ended, they're presumably well above 75 percent.

Still, a year ago, the projection for the opening was a vague "most sold," according to Forbes. They do have "most sold," but that's a lot of wiggle room.


Posted by eric at 9:14 PM

That's the Story: While Barclays Opens The Job Promises Go Broken

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

As the local, national, and international media starts ramping up Forest City Ratner's and the Nets' hoopla machine it behooves the same media to start reading the only journalist actually covering Atlantic Yards on a daily basis since 2005 — Norman Oder. This isn't in order to play any game of we-toldya-so, but rather so these journalist don't come across as foolishly getting lost in the smokescreen of the glitz and hoopla. We mean, how boring will it be to just read over and over "rah rah rah, isn't Barclays great." That doesn't make for interesting reading or historical accuracy. Because, while sure, big events and pro sports are exciting, the true story of the Barclays opening is what isn't happening.


Posted by eric at 9:09 PM

Here Comes the Arena! What Happened to the Atlantic Yards Jobs? (10,000 office jobs gone; 15,000 construction jobs lag; arena jobs talked up; existing jobs used for low-cost financing)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder publishes a condensed history of Atlantic Yards' broken promises, a must-read for anyone who's not 100% familiar with the sordid history of Bruce Ratner's basketball-themed boondoggle.

When the Atlantic Yards mega-project was announced in December 2003, developer Forest City Ratner, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and their allies promoted “Jobs, Housing, and Hoops,” with bright blue buttons perfect for a local's lapel.

Nearly nine years later, the Barclays Center opens Sept. 28 with a string of Jay-Z concerts. The Brooklyn Nets debut in October. But there's far more hype than evidence of the “jobs” and “affordable housing,” which prompted so much public passion.

Could it be that Atlantic Yards, that 16-tower, borough-changing behemoth, is first about basketball and entertainment? Wasn't the public assistance--the subsidies, tax breaks, override of zoning, eminent domain, and more--justified because of the promises of the full project?

Yes, but for now the big winners appear to be mogul Bruce Ratner, the arena majority owner*, and his partner Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's second-richest man and the Nets' majority owner. They get to milk a new media market for the team and arena, reap rewards from luxury suites and sponsorships, and leave the doldrums of New Jersey behind. The value of the Nets has already boomed, according to Crain's New York Business.

(*Ratner owns 55% of the arena operating company, with Prokhorov the minority partner. The arena is nominally owned by the state, to enable Forest City to get tax-exempt financing, which saves the developer perhaps $150 million.)

Meanwhile, Forest City, with the help of Markowitz and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, has done its best to promote Potemkin successes, while hoping that everyone forgets the promises about jobs and housing, or that the New York City Independent Budget Office called the arena a net loss for the city.


Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

OMG, where will the Nets players live? Times devotes two articles, six reporters, to investigation, promotion

Atlantic Yards Report

In a Sports section front-page story (B7) headlined Nets Will Play in Brooklyn but Will Practice and Live Outside Borough, the New York Times relies on five reporters to explore the vital conundrum, as expressed in the article's closing paragraph:

Brooklyn seems ready to adopt the Nets. It may be a while before the Nets adopt Brooklyn.

Of course the "ready to adopt" is evidenced, in the main, by the team's extensive advertising campaign--and the Times's promotion, in two articles covering at least 1.6 pages today (and nearly 3 pages a few weeks back).

Because the Nets will practice in New Jersey for two years--they're looking for a site in Red Hook--the players are mainly living in New Jersey or Manhattan. Howard Beck writes:

The team is making plans to ease the commuting strain. The Nets will provide hotel rooms in Brooklyn on game days, allowing them to hold a morning shootaround at the arena’s practice court without forcing players to crisscross Manhattan multiple times before tipoff.

And guess what, Alabama native Gerald Wallace says "I’m afraid of the city... Hopefully, I can find a driver to take me back and forth.”

So much for arena slogan of "Eleven Trains. One Destination."


Related content...

The Times loves nothing more than its development partner's basketball arena, hollow Brooklyn-themed "trend" pieces, and a chance to mention the Park Slope Food Coop. And wrapping them all in one package? Better than winning a Pulitzer!

The New York Times, Nets Will Play in Brooklyn but Will Practice and Live Outside Borough

The Nets will call Brooklyn home this fall, but you won’t find them bagging organic tomatoes at the Park Slope Food Co-op, antique hunting at the Brooklyn Flea or enjoying a pleasant fall evening on the nearest brownstone stoop. For reasons both practical and personal, the Brooklyn Nets will not be living in Brooklyn, at least for their inaugural season.

The New York Times, Nets Players May Find Brooklyn a Tempting Place to Live

For now, Nets players may be Brooklyn in name only, since they will practice and live elsewhere.

But given the chance to spend a little more time in the borough, and on the blocks beyond the Barclays Center, they might reach the same conclusion that waves of ex-Manhattanites, fresh college grads and longtime locals already have — that Brooklyn is a fairly trendy, sort of chic and all in all pretty nice place to live.

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Politics may trump Nets players’ wishes

Crain's Insider

Team officials for the Brooklyn Nets apparently hesitated to commit to building a new practice facility in Brooklyn last year despite weighing three sites in the borough, a real estate insider told Crain’s. The decision not to pursue those opportunities came as key players who reside in New Jersey lobbied to practice closer to their homes, the insider said. The Nets, who will play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season, have a lease on an East Rutherford, N.J., practice facility through 2015.

Those players’ wishes, however, might be no match for the political sway of Marty Markowitz. Sources said the Brooklyn borough president has been pushing the team to relocate the remainder of its New Jersey operation to Brooklyn, a move that could ultimately prove to be a financial windfall for the city.

“A Brooklyn training complex would provide a great assist to the arena,” said Markowitz. “The team that plays together should practice together—in their home city of Brooklyn.”

Well, that settles it, then.

With the Barclays Center and a practice facility in Brooklyn, Nets players would have a stronger incentive to move to the city, which would be able to tax more of their income.

Regardless of where players live, however, income they earn from playing games in the city will be subject to city taxes and taken as a credit against taxes imposed by their home states.


Related content...

Crain's Insider, At A Glance: Moving On

Crain's also announced that reporter Daniel Massey, who a month ago authored a rah-rah, puffball piece on the Brooklyn Nets, is joining political consulting firm BerlinRosen, which works for — wait for it — the Brooklyn Nets.

Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

Barclays Center Opens September 28: Will Brooklyn's Worst Fears Materialize?

About.com Brooklyn, NY
by Ellen Freudenheim

After years of public controversy, Barclays Center is actually opening its doors on September 28th, starting with a blockbuster series of concerts by part-owner Jay Z.

The stadium isn't, um, an architectural wonder. OK.

But....Will there be horrific traffic jams? Will people take public transportation? Will locals love it or be bent out of shape? Will the 1 AM bar closing time prove a public nuisance or a boon to local businesses?


Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Brooklyn Nets: 30 Pictures In 30 Days; Barclays Minus 27 Days

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

We don't usually waste bandwidth posting items from "Mike from Bensonhurst," who's now counting down the days until his life is complete, but this piece is so wrong and dishonest, we had to put it up.

Groundbreaking Day ~ March 11, 2010

After years of delays and legal wrangling, Groundbreaking Day finally arrived. Six years after Bruce Ratner announced his intention to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, the developer finally got to bask in his long awaited moment of inglorious satisfaction. But to watch Bruce Ratner speak from the dais was to watch him savoring his finest day. Even he admitted, for a time the project seemed doomed. Interestingly, the major groups in opposition to Atlantic Yards expected to attend Groundbreaking Day ceremonies showed up numbering in the tens and tens of people. That's right - the displeased and protesters alike never showed up to voice their discontent; not en mass anyway. Pictured above is a rather small and harmless gathering of curious pedestrians and other intrigued passers-by along Sixth Avenue. Back on Atlantic Avenue, the barricaded sidewalk closest to the tent where ceremonies were to be held was void of any clearly defined or coherent opposition to the project as well.


NoLandGrab: That shot is of arena supporters, most likely rounded up by one of Bruce Ratner's astroturf groups. Back in the real world, hundreds turned out to protest (Mike from Bensonhurst must've missed them), as evidenced in Adrian Kinloch's photos below.

Related content...

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, Brooklyn Nets: 30 Pictures In 30 Days - Barclays Minus 26 Days

In yesterday's installment, Mike from Bensonhurst thanks the people who've been smoking (illegally) in the Dean Street playground, uprooting (illegally) No Parking signs, and cursing residents whom they keep up all night.

To all those involved in the construction of Barclays Center - Thank You for all the work you've put in so far. Enjoy a well deserved day off and Happy Holiday to you and yours.

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

Marriage & The Family: College Move In Day

Help! Mama Remote

A mom drops her daughter off at LIU, and encounters something jarring...

After getting things situated we went to the nearby Target to pick up extras that.she needed. While we were there we saw the new Barclays Center where the Brooklyn Nets will play.

Looks like a ship landed.


Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

September 3, 2012

Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Meeting

Via the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council

When: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 @ 7:00pm
Where: Iglesia Latina Evengelica, 506 Bergen St. (between 6th and Carlton Avenues)

Join Ashley Cotton and Jane Marshall of Forest City Ratner in a discussion about protecting the quality of life of those living and working near Barclays Center once it opens. Issues include crowd control, safety, clean streets and sidewalks, traffic, parking and more. Bring your questions and concerns.

To read the proposed Neighborhood Protection Plan sponsored by local elected officials and civic groups representing areas surrounding Barclays Center: http://www.atlanticyardswatch.net/node/836

Sponsored by:
Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, www.phndc.org
Park Slope Civic Council, www.parkslopeciviccouncil.org
Boerum Hill Association, www.boerumhillassociation.org

NoLandGrab: They lost us after "Join Ashley Cotton and Jane Marshall of Forest City Ratner...."

Posted by eric at 10:19 PM

Meet the new Kings County Democratic boss, Frank Seddio; same as the old boss?

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times reports that veteran south Brooklyn political operative Frank Seddio seems positioned to succeed scandal-tinged Assemblyman Vito Lopez as the leader and kingmaker (judges and other party positions) of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

And yes, there's an Atlantic Yards angle, sort of. Seddio comes from the powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, home of former Forest City Ratner external affairs chief Bruce Bender, and a reliable source of Atlantic Yards-loving pols, including Carl Kruger (now disgraced), Alan Maisel, and Steve Cymbrowitz.

Seddio's main rival seems to be Brownstone Brooklyn reformer JoAnne Simon, who lost to Lopez protege Steve Levin (strategically silent lately) for the 33rd District City Council seat, but might have won without such a large field. (Cumulative voting, anyone?)

Simon is a leader of BrooklynSpeaks, the coalition that began as "mend it don't end it" regarding Atlantic Yards but has become increasingly vocal about the need for oversight and reform.


NoLandGrab: Looks like a "reformer," right? And having had to resign a judgeship due to an ethics inquiry makes him imminently qualified for heading Brooklyn's Democratic Party machine.

Posted by eric at 2:04 PM

Brooklyn Nets scout Red Hook for training site

The basketball team's officials pay a visit to a Red Hook, Brooklyn, site owned by Joseph Sitt in search of a place for a training center and office. The Nets' owner has said he'll spare no expense.

Crain's NY Business
by Daniel Massey, Amanda Fung and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh

Bruce Ratner & Co. have already defiled Prospect Heights. Is Red Hook next?

Brooklyn Nets officials were scheduled to walk through a site in Red Hook owned by real estate developer Joseph Sitt on Wednesday as they press their search for a site for a new practice facility, a real estate source said.

Despite its ballyhooed move to Brooklyn, where its first regular-season game will be played Nov. 1, the team will continue to practice at the Nets Center in East Rutherford, N.J., during the upcoming season.

The search for a Brooklyn location has been going on for over a year now. Last year, the Nets weighed three sites in Brooklyn, according to another real estate source. But team officials decided not to pursue those opportunities because a number of key players reside in New Jersey and wanted to practice closer to home, the source said.

Wait! Weren't they all going to move to Brooklyn so New York could reap the tax revenue?

Mr. Sitt's site is a 660,000-square-foot parcel at 280 Richards St., between the huge Ikea store and the Fairway market in a fast-developing section of Red Hook. Just last week, Mr. Sitt told Crain's New York Business that in recent months he has been approached by developers and retailers to turn the site into an outlet mall.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner and Joe Sitt — now there's a match made in Hell.

Related coverage...

Curbed, Nets Eye Joe Sitt-Owned Red Hook Site for Practice Facility

Crain's notes that the site is large enough to accomodate much more than a practice facility—Madison Square Garden has a 105,000-square-foot facility for three different teams. A spokesperson for the Nets wouldn't confirm they visited the site, only saying that the team is currently looking around.

NetsDaily, A Visit to 280 Richards St., Brooklyn

It's inaccessible. There's a reason why there's a ferry serving IKEA Brooklyn. It's not easy to get to, particularly for visitors. There's no subway service nearby and most of any trip from outside the borough is over surface streets. Moreover, getting to and from any of the region's airports won't be that easy. Remember, on road trips, teams leave from and return to their training facility.

Posted by eric at 1:40 PM

When the press is lied to, shouldn't it fight back? With politics, that's started, but with Atlantic Yards, stenography too often rules

Atlantic Yards Report

The press is getting better, right? See this overview by PressThink blogger and media theorist Jay Rosen of NYU, which cites, among other things, the notably bold news headline from the Times's 8/31/12 article Facts Take a Beating in Acceptance Speeches:

Representative Paul D. Ryan used his convention speech on Wednesday to fault President Obama for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he himself had helped kill. He chided Democrats for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he too had sought. And he lamented the nation’s credit rating — which was downgraded after a debt-ceiling standoff that he and other House Republicans helped instigate.

And Mitt Romney, in his acceptance speech on Thursday night, asserted that President Obama’s policies had “not helped create jobs” and that Mr. Obama had gone on an “apology tour” for America. He also warned that the president’s Medicare cuts would “hurt today’s seniors,” claims that have already been labeled false or misleading.

The two speeches — peppered with statements that were incorrect or incomplete — seemed to signal the arrival of a new kind of presidential campaign, one in which concerns about fact-checking have been largely set aside.

Yet the press not infrequently stenographically reports, without corrective comment, misleading, deceptive, or self-servingly incomplete statements about Atlantic Yards from developer Forest City Ratner.


Posted by eric at 1:34 PM

Nets Arena Will Inevitably Lead to Drunk Idiots Everywhere

Grub Street

Here's an aspect missing from The New Yorker's Night Life preview.

Between the never-ending booze-flow in the fancy seats and the empire of bars and restaurants staying open extra-late around the new stadium, neighbors worry the area surrounding Barclays Center will turn into a wild, drunken, sloppy disaster. Otherwise known as: so much fucking fun.


Posted by eric at 1:26 PM


The New Yorker


If you don’t follow hip-hop, professional basketball, international finance, or the Brooklyn real-estate market, you might not know that Brooklyn is getting an arena. The Barclays Center, a nineteen-thousand-seat concert hall and basketball court near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, is set to open this fall. (It’s next to the location of a proposed domed—and ultimately doomed—stadium for the Dodgers, which was to be designed by R. Buckminster Fuller all those years ago, but let’s not get into that now.) The home-borough hero Jay-Z, who is a part owner of the arena’s main tenant, the Brooklyn Nets, christens the space with a series of shows starting Sept. 28.


NoLandGrab: And if you don't follow the Atlantic Yards fight, you might call someone who owns just one-fifteenth of one percent of a team a "part owner."

Posted by eric at 1:19 PM

Candidate Profile: Walter T. Mosley

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

The Local is profiling the three candidates running in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for the state Assembly in the 57th Assembly District. For the final installment, we spoke with male Democratic District Leader Walter T. Mosley about his past, his politics and his current campaign.

Walter T. Mosley has been around politics most of his life.

His mother, Marilyn Mosley, is the president of a local political club, the Progressive Association for Political Action. Her work getting an African-American judge elected when Mr. Mosley was just a boy cemented his interest in politics.

“I’ve seen how it all interconnects,” said Mr. Mosley about his experience in the city and state government. “I’ve seen how an idea becomes policy and then legislation.”

Democrats in the 57th Assembly District elected Mr. Mosley as their male district leader in 2008. Since then he said he’s tried to ensure opportunities for local residents in development projects like Atlantic Yards, recently criticizing the Forest City Ratner Company’s commitment to the surrounding neighborhood, saying the firm has not provided the jobs or housing it promised.


NoLandGrab: Mr. Mosley needs to try harder.

Posted by eric at 1:13 PM

Crime Report: Playground Shooting

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

It way a typically unquiet week in Bruce Ratner's woeful Brooklyn malls...

Pickpocket Strikes

A pickpocket stole a 32-year-old woman’s wallet at the Target inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall at 3 p.m. on Aug. 8 and made a $20 purchase at the Bath & Body Works inside the shopping center with the woman’s American Express card, police said. The woman reported the theft on Aug. 23.

Cold Stone Crime

A 28-year-old woman’s wallet was stolen from her purse at the Cold Stone Creamery inside the Atlantic Terminal Mall between 2:15 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Aug. 26, police said. The crook quickly made two purchases totaling $115 on two of the woman’s bank cards, according to cops.

Purse Theft

Someone dipped into a 19-year-old woman’s purse at the Marshalls store on Atlantic Avenue, between Fort Greene Place and South Portland Avenue, police said. The victim told cops she left her purse in her shopping cart at 9:45 p.m. on Aug. 24, and when she later opened it, she noticed her drivers license, Bank of America debit card, two MetroCards and some cash were missing.


Posted by eric at 1:08 PM

September 2, 2012

An exhibit from Tracy Collins, Atlantic Yards DeConstructed, opens Sept. 28

Atlantic Yards Report

Tracy Collins, the premier photographic chronicler of the Atlantic Yards saga, will open an exbition, Atlantic Yards DeConstructed, on Sept. 28, the day the Barclays Center opens.

The location: the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street, right across from the arena's surface parking lot.

From Tracy Collins:

I have been documenting the changing landscape (demolition of buildings) in and around the "footprint" of the development since I moved to Prospect Heights very soon after the project was announced. I have a photo book that's a snapshot of the neighborhood in 2007. A continually updated archive of photos can be viewed on my Flickr photo site, as well as time-lapse video on Vimeo andYouTube. My exhibition, ATLANTIC YARDS: [DE]CONSTRUCTED, will be at the Soapbox Galleryin Brooklyn, New York, September 28 through October 11, 2012.


Posted by steve at 3:36 PM

An AY-inflected exhibition from painter Peter Krashes: "Make it Work in Brooklyn!"

Atlantic Yards Report

Peter Krashes, a leader of the Dean Street Block Association and major contributor to Atlantic Yards Watch, is an artist, and his AY-inflected exhibition, Make it Work in Brooklyn!, will be mounted at the Theodore:Art gallery in Bushwick from Sept. 8 through Oct. 14.

(Note the image reflects and refracts a May 2008 "Time Out" rally. The title of the exhibition has an echo of the slogan from the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, "Atlantic Yards must work for Brooklyn," a goal that some Atlantic Yards activists, notably those associated with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, did not believe or embrace. However, Krashes says. "I am trying to reach beyond the specifics of all the debates related to Atlantic Yards. The title is a demand that the public's interest be honestly assessed and empowered.")


Posted by steve at 3:31 PM

San Bernardino Eminent Domain Fight Closely Watched By Other Struggling Communities

Huffington Post
By Ben Hallman

Eminent Domain was used by New York State to get home- and business-owners to leave a Prospect Heights site so that it could be turned over to a billionaire developer and Russian oligarch for the Atlantic Yards project. Here's a proposal to use Eminent Domain to keep people in their homes.

Gregory Devereaux is the chief executive of San Bernardino County and its 2 million residents. At his urging, local authorities are considering a proposal that would allow local governments to exercise their power to seize private property without landowners' consent in a dramatic -- some say radical -- new way.

Governments usually use this power, known as eminent domain, to acquire private land for public purposes, such as roads or utility lines. But this plan, proposed by a San Francisco-based venture fund Mortgage Resolution Partners, calls for government authorities to seize the mortgages of underwater borrowers, paying the investors that own them a fraction of what they are owed, using money borrowed from the fund. Homeowners could then refinance with a federal loan at a much lower rate, based on what their home is actually worth instead of what they owe.


Posted by steve at 3:22 PM

Jay-Z article from Times survives without rebuttal about gift suite, skepticism about special deals

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times buffed Jay-Z, and hardly a discouraging word was heard. I wrote a letter to the paper that somehow didn't get printed:

"With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook" (front page, Aug. 16) could have used more skepticism about the marketing of Jay-Z. For example, in June, the Nets told the New York Post that the rapper had not only designed the 11 exclusive Vault suites, he'd purchased the first one. The Times reported, without referencing the previous promotion, that Jay-Z paid nothing for his suite, worth $550,000 a year.

In a Launch Magazine interview 8/27/12, the writer of the Times article, David Halbfinger, described feedback on the article:

It was one of the top read stories of the day and the most e-mailed and most blogged about. I know the Nets are aware of the story and besides the league’s concern about the issue of uniform colors and skin color, I think by and large they were pleased with the story. There are people in Brooklyn who are critical of the project who are somewhat critical of the piece because it’s too laudatory but not everyone is going to be happy.

Maybe "not everyone is going to be happy" because some of them noticed the lack of skepticism in the article, also cited here.


Posted by steve at 3:17 PM

Metro begins daily (advertorial-ish) tidbits about Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

Hot on the heels of the special section sponsored by the Barclays Center, the free daily Metro--the closest thing to the Ratner-sponsored Brooklyn Standard today--has begun a daily series of "tidbits" about the arena.

They're not marked as advertorial, but they're pretty darn close.The article yesterday was headlined "Barclays Center countdown until opening is on":

The new Barclays Center opens in 28 days! Metro will offer a tidbit — or two — about the new development every day until opening day.
Disappointment over a rejected request to serve liquor until 2 a.m. has turned into a bit of gloating at the realization that Barclays’ 1 a.m. cutoff means venue attendees can drink an hour later than their MSG counterparts. Barclays 1, MSG 0.
On top of that, word has gotten out that the Rolling Stones will be playing two shows in New York City in November.
In another triumph over MSG, the Barclays Center will be playing host to both Stones concerts.

For some reason, Metro seems to be channeling the thoughts of arena executives whose "disappointment" turned to "a bit of gloating." Wouldn't a real newspaper have acknowledged community concerns as well as arena executives' failure to disclose that after-hours drinking plan?


Posted by steve at 3:14 PM