September 25, 2012

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.

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Posted by eric at 1:37 PM

September 21, 2012

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.

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Posted by eric at 2:27 PM

September 17, 2012

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."

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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

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.

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Photo: Atlantic Yards Report

Posted by eric at 11:45 AM

September 11, 2012

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.

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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

After Barclays Comes the Building Blocks Towers

Curbed
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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted by eric at 2:13 PM

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.

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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

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.

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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

September 7, 2012

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.

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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

September 6, 2012

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.”

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Posted by eric at 1:15 PM

September 5, 2012

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.

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Panorama copyright Tracy Collins; permission required for re-use

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

August 28, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

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

Deadspin
by Jack Dickey

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

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

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

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

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Related coverage...

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 9:01 AM

August 24, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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


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

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Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

August 21, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

August 17, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

That, understandably, alarmed drivers and pedestrians.

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Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

August 16, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 5:50 PM

August 14, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 9:29 PM

August 8, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

August 6, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

August 4, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

Who came first

Also note Eric McClure's comment:

One more reminder that NoLandGrab.org first broke the news of the massive bollards in December 2009, and referred to them as Sarcophagi well before the Brooklyn Paper did:
http://www.nolandgrab.org/archives/2009/12/tomboftheunk.html
http://www.nolandgrab.org/archives/2011/08/bollard
backtra.html

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Posted by steve at 6:31 PM

August 3, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

But Sanna's estimate differs significantly from the index used by Merritt & Harris, the consultant that reports monthly to the arena bond trustee, Empire State Development Corporation, and Forest City Ratner.

In the last report from Merritt & Harris, dated 7/9/12 and based on a 5/23/12 visit and documents dated 6/22/12, a chart indicated that the arena, as of May, was nearly 80 percent complete, on a path--as of the end of July--to be perhaps 85 percent complete.

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Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

August 2, 2012

Barclays Center readies for opening

NY Daily News

Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna takes a break from fighting his NIMBY battle in New Jersey to give a tour of the "95, 98% complete" Barclays Center.

link

Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

July 31, 2012

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: the oculus and the Haier Store become more visible

Atlantic Yards Report

There's some interesting stuff in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 7/30/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

Not only will the oculus become ever more visible, so too will be the Haier Store at the east end of the arena, at the extension of Pacific Street.

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Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

July 30, 2012

Flashback to September 2010: Forest City's Gilmartin said "we anticipate" funding for first tower by spring of 2011

Atlantic Yards Report

Less than two years ago, at a 9/29/10 public meeting on the arena plaza, Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin aimed to mitigate some of the bad publicity that stemmed from Bruce Ratner's comments at a press event a day earlier about how the project might take longer than ten years.

"We explained the possibility that the project might be delayed by economic conditions and be built over a longer period than ten years," she said. "That being said, Forest City's plans for the buildout are as follows. We are currently working on moving forward with the three residential buildings on the arena block. We anticipate having funding in place to start the first building at Dean and Flatbush in the spring of 2011, the second six to nine months later, and the third about the same time after that."

Note that the Development Agreement gives them a lot more time--ten years for the third tower to start--before penalties kick in. Construction on the first building has been delayed again and again, though now executives say it will start before the end of the year, though it's not clear yet whether it will be modular construction.

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Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

July 28, 2012

The modular plan versus Gehry's goal to not make it "look like a project"

Atlantic Yards Report

"How do you make a complex that doesn’t look like a project even though one architect’s doing it?" asked Frank Gehry, then the architect of Atlantic Yards, in a 10/31/05 interview, describing some of the challenges he faced.

Modular construction does not seem to be the most likely solution. (The developer is still aiming at modular, but has not reached agreement with construction unions, even though an effort to finance the first building is in process.)

But by now Forest City Ratner's goal is cutting costs--not to mention that speedier construction would avoid arena snags. So Gehryesque architecture is not the priority.

Note that the rendering, by SHoP, is from that curious hovercraft perspective that architects often favor, though it bears no relation to how pedestrians would experience the buildings. Also note the ten-story Atlantic Terrace building in the lower right, which seems very small..

link

Posted by steve at 5:18 PM

July 26, 2012

Promises, promises: how the ESDC said care would be taken at the construction site, how complaints have been documented, and what might be done about noise

Atlantic Yards Report

As I wrote yesterday, a new report validates neighbors' concerns about disruptive Atlantic Yards constructions, and documents suggest that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and its environmental monitor have condoned a cover-up of a Forest City contractor's falsification.

Some 19 months ago, an ESDC attorney--in retrospect, not so wisely--assured board members that all commitments to mitigate neighborhood concerns would be followed.

The comment came in the wake of the ESDC's breakneck preparation (via consultant AKRF) that a 25-year Atlantic Yards buildout would not result in any community impacts not disclosed in the agency's previous study of an official ten-year buildout and a five year delay.

Such a finding, in a Technical Analysis (not to be confused with a Technical Memorandum issued in June 2009), was ordered by Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, who ultimately ruled that it was inadequate, and that the agency had to perform a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to look at a 25-year buildout.
...

Board member's concern

After receiving the Technical Analysis (though with no evidence they'd had time to review it), the ESDC board on 12/16/10 unanimously approved the findings.

After the vote, public policy consultant Joyce Miller, as of June 2010 a new board member, offered a small olive branch to community members who'd expressed dismay and incredulity that a 25-year buildout, however attenuated, was no worse than a ten-year one.

"Having lived next to a construction site," said Miller, who lives on the Upper West Side near Riverside South, "I'm sympathetic to some of the complaints that are being made and I would like to know and be reassured that some of the complaints regard to construction hours, et cetera, noise you can't do anything about, obviously, pile drivers are pile drivers, but that care is taken to ensure that regulations and laws regarding the maintenance of the construction site, the hours of construction site, et cetera, the safety of the construction site, are all adhered to."

"Yes," came the response from ESDC attorney Robin Stout.

Actually, as the report compiled for Atlantic Yards Watch indicates, care has not been taken to follow the rules.

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Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

Atlantic Yards Violations and Cover-up

Brownstoner

It appears the Nets have "discounted" their concern for Prospect Heights residents, as well.

A new report validates neighbors’ complaints about disruptive Atlantic Yards construction, writes Norman Oder in the Atlantic Yards Report. The sleep of the neighbors seems to have been sacrificed so developer Forest City Ratner could rush to finish the arena in time for the first Jay-Z concert Sept. 28. The report also suggests the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and its environmental monitor condoned a cover-up, he continues. Check out the full post here along with a Daily News article on the topic here.

link

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Top 5 Myths of Modular Construction

ModSpace
by Jeff Dusing

Modular has proven itself as a faster, greener, more versatile and high-quality building option. And yet, despite all evidence to the contrary, some misconceptions persist, including suggestions that modular buildings are cheaply made temporary structures that offer limited versatility in their applications.

Here, we’re going to dispel the top five myths of modular construction.
...

Myth 5: Modular is too new of a construction process.

Fact: Modular has been used, developed and perfected over decades and across all industries. In fact, Forest City Ratner, a large residential developer, chose modular for its current high-rise housing project in Brooklyn, NY. Clearly the builder is confident in the durability and cost effectiveness of modular construction.

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NoLandGrab: Or, the builder is confident it can't make the numbers work using traditional methods.

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

July 25, 2012

Atlantic Yards construction violations: not just neglect, but also a cover-up of "documentation falsified by the contractor"

Atlantic Yards Report

It's not the crime, it's the coverup. OK, it's the crime, too.

A new report, commissioned by the community initiative Atlantic Yards Watch, catalogs violations in depressing detail, suggesting that neighbors' interests have been sacrificed in developer Forest City Ratner's rush to get the Barclays Center finished for that first Jay-Z concert Sept. 28.

The state agency overseeing the project, Empire State Development (ESD, aka Empire State Development Corporation), has barely enforced the official mitigation protocols, nor have other agencies stepped up, according to the report. (ESD recently lost a lawsuit, and must analyze the community impact of a potential 25-year project buildout.)

Forest City Ratner's response was predictable. Spokesman Jonathan Rosen told the Daily News, “We take every complaint from our neighbors seriously and work hard to address them and meet our commitments to the community.”

A cover-up condoned

Maybe not so much. Not only has ESD neglected oversight, documents suggest the agency and its environmental monitor, Henningson, Durham & Richardson (HDR), have condoned a cover-up of a Forest City contractor's falsification.

Forest City was supposed to hire its own On-Site Environmental Monitor, meeting daily with contractors and observing site conditions. But the developer dragged its feet.

"During the second quarter of 2010, HDR expressed concerns with lack of oversight," the new report states. "Chuck Baldwin of Turner Construction was hired to handle the position until mid-July and HDR noted an improvement in on-site compliance."

However, that compliance relied on a wink and a nod, according to documents I discovered.

Each week, HDR compiles an "Atlantic Yards Field Inspection Report" for ESD. According to the non-public draft of the May 20, 2010 report, monitor Baldwin passed on to HDR sobering information: five pieces of heavy equipment lacked the required diesel particulate filter, aimed to reduce asthma-causing exhaust.

HDR "asked Chuck if FCRC has been keeping daily inspection reports for each piece of heavy machinery," according to the draft report. "He stated that while they have been maintaining this documentation, it had been falsified by the contractor." (Emphasis added.)

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Posted by eric at 2:53 PM

Report validates neighbors' steady complaints about Atlantic Yards construction: "continual violations and difficulty with enforcement"

Atlantic Yards Report

So, maybe the neighbors near the Atlantic Yards project, who have filed complaints and reports about a never-ending stream of construction-related violations--late-night noise causing sleepless nights, dust clouds, illegal parking, jolting vibrations, use of residential streets for truck routes--will be taken more seriously.

And, as the opening of the Barclays Center arena approaches Sept. 28, perhaps officials will recognize that careful monitoring is necessary to ensure against untoward impacts.

A new report, prepared for Atlantic Yards Watch by a veteran environmental consulting firm, concludes that the Forest City Ratner and its contractors, bent on getting a huge project finished by a tight deadline, have regularly failed to comply with mitigation protocols officially agreed to, and that other mitigations were implemented late, poorly, or unevenly.

The report, Evaluation of Construction Air Quality and Noise Commitments and Mitigations, was conducted by Sandstone Environmental Associates of Metuchen, NJ and first previewed in the Daily News.

Sandstone was paid by Atlantic Yards Watch, via a $4,000 grant from Council Member Letitia James; the company does not limit work to community groups, as it was hired by Forest City Ratner for its Ridge Hill Project.

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Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

July 24, 2012

Atlantic Yards arena construction ignores tough regulations to reduce noise and pollution, new report claims

Complaints of "...sleepless nights...dust...(and) vibration damage" from nearby Prospect Heights residents

NY Daily News
by Reuven Blau

Construction crews racing to finish the Brooklyn Barclays Center are ignoring strict regulations to reduce noise and pollution, a new report by critics has found.

In 2006, developer Forest City Ratner agreed to keep the site safe for Prospect Heights residents, by limiting late night work; constantly washing down trucks from dangerous dust; and requiring heavy duty vehicles to use main streets in an effort to avoid residential blocks.

But the study by Sandstone Environmental Associates, an environmental consulting group, concluded that many of those strict precautions were being ignored at the arena and other related sites.

“The construction mitigation measures can be considered a failure for numerous citizens who have experienced extremely loud noise, consecutive sleepless nights due to 24/7 construction activities, clouds of fugitive dust, vibration damage, and other impacts,” the 71-page study said.

Apparently, someone needs to help the perps understand the meaning of "committed."

“As the report acknowledges, Forest City committed to strict rules governing construction noise, dust and traffic mitigation that go above and beyond New York City's own building code because we are committed to minimizing disruption to our neighbors,” Jonathan Rosen said. “We take every complaint from our neighbors seriously and work hard to address them and meet our commitments to the community.”

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Related content...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Study finds many problems remain after years of reports showing noncompliance with environmental commitments were submitted to ESDC

An analysis of documents submitted by the environmental consultant HDR retained by ESDC to monitor compliance with Atlantic Yards' noise and air quality protocols has found that the agency has been advised of significant areas of non-compliance on an ongoing basis since construction began in 2010. The analysis is contained in a report prepared for AYW by Sandstone Environmental Associates of Metuchen, NJ. Sandstone also found that some air and noise mitigations originally planned were likely inadequate, several planned mitigations were implemented late or not at all, and others that had been implemented unevenly were not being enforced either by FCRC, ESDC or City agencies.

Click through for a lengthy list of the ways Forest City Ratner is failing to meet its "commitments to the community."

Posted by eric at 10:12 PM

July 18, 2012

Consultant's monthly report: arena "slightly ahead of schedule" (not quite), Transit Connection behind (but not a problem); 550 workers (plus those at railyard)

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Site Observation Report, issued yesterday by Merritt & Harris, the consultant that reports to the arena bond trustee, Empire State Development Corporation, and Forest City Ratner, declares "the Arena is slightly ahead of schedule, while the Transit Connection is currently 4 months behind its original schedule."

Of course, as the charts indicate, the arena is "slightly ahead of schedule" because they tweaked the schedule earlier this year.

The report, while issued yesterday is dated 7/9/12 and based on a 5/23/12 visit and documents dated 6/22/12.

Manpower

The report states, "According to the General Contractor and the Manpower Log, 550 persons have been on the job for the Arena and 48 persons for the Transit Connection this month." That's an increase from 490 and 48 in the previous report and is "attributed to the roofing, carpentry, and finish trades."

On 6/28/12, Patch quoted Forest City Ratner as having 1,079 employees on site, a number I couldn't get verified as full-time equivalent.

Even with a large crew at the railyard, which is not covered in the Merritt & Harris report (which examined documents dated less than a week before the Patch article), the total seems very doubtful.

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Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

July 17, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: progress on multiple fronts, but also the need for late-night and weekend work

Atlantic Yards Report

There's not much dramatic in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 7/16/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

According to the document, there's progress on numerous fronts, including testing of an escalator in the new subway entrance, erection of steel for the Carlton Avenue Bridge, and access to the Flatbush Avenue sidewalk.

Then again, as stated in recent documents, "overall schedule maintenance" (aka finishing the arena in September for a Sept. 28 opening, and getting the Carlton Avenue Bridge done by then) requires two and even three shifts, and weekend work, such as for pile drilling at the site for the first tower.

Note that "trenches for the power and broadcast cable are being installed [at the broadcast lot at dean street and Sixth Avenue] and will be encased in concrete," though Department of Transportation approval has not yet been granted and a Forest City executive last week said they'd stopped work pending approval.

Also, several passages that indicate work being completed or about to be completed are repeated verbatim from the previous alert, which indicates delays, bad editing, or both.

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Posted by eric at 12:56 PM

July 13, 2012

From the District Service Cabinet meeting: "Day Two” task force; report on hiring; construction timing; plans for parking for TV trucks

Atlantic Yards Report

The big news at yesterday’s Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting concerned the city’s preliminary rejection of residential permit parking and the still unresolved plans for the first residential tower, B2.

But several other issues came up at the Borough Hall meeting, including a “Day Two” task force, a progress report on hiring for part-time jobs, plans for parking to serve TV trucks, and updates on ongoing issues.

Unresolved issues

For example a final Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan is due in early August, said Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, the agency overseeing the project. “We received a number of great comments” and are “trying to figure out the best way to tweak the plan.” Comments and responses are should be posted with the final plan.

Also, a plan to re-order police precinct boundaries--the arena likely will be policed by a supplement to the 78th Precinct (nearby) or 88th Precinct--is in the works. A letter from the Police Commissioner has been sent to the mayor, who then must get it approved by the City Council within 60 days, which is a close deadline, given that the arena opens on Sept. 28.

The State Liquor Authority’s final hearing on the Barclays Center liquor license is still not scheduled; a report from the administrative law judge who heard testimony is not expected until July 25. (That’s also a hearing day; I’m not sure if the report could be delivered on the day of the hearing.)

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Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

July 12, 2012

First Atlantic Yards tower: modular plans still unresolved, but tax-exempt bonds proceeding, with hearing on July 18

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner this week began what its construction chief called “very very minor” work on the foundation and piles for Building 2, the first residential tower.

But it hasn’t decided whether to pursue modular construction, as negotiations with unions--who, expecting higher-paying jobs on site, aggressively supported Atlantic Yards--are unresolved.

Meanwhile, the New York City Housing Development Corporation is proceeding with the issuance of nearly $92 million in tax-exempt bonds to support construction. A hearing July 18, during which public comment will be accepted, will be held at 1 pm in Conference Room 4 A/B at 110 William Street, 4th Floor, in Lower Manhattan.

No further information is available as of now, which kind of retards public comment. The NYC HDC apparently published the notice in the New York Post this weekend, but no community people--including Council Member Letitia James--knew about it until Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall volunteered it at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting this morning.

The hearing

“I just wanted to mention it,” Marshall said, during the meeting at Borough Hall. “The notice went out, and we didn't see any reaction on the blogs.”

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NoLandGrab: Reaction? We're with Jay-Z pal Trey Anastasio on this one.

Posted by eric at 3:35 PM

Forest City: we need agreement with labor before loan available to go modular (plus EN-R's account of "drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes" plaguing AY site)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder critiques the Engineering News-Record's big Atlantic Yards package. Some highlights:

Forest City has started foundation work, but at least according to the article, they're still not sure:

"We need an agreement with labor before we can get a bank loan, and [we] are working on both," says Gilmartin. "We are all optimistic, but if we run into a problem, we will build conventionally."

FCRC expects to start the first of three buildings in phase one by year's end. The other two are planned to follow, each six to nine months apart.

They've been saying "six to nine months" for a while.
...

Rewriting history

One article, Fancy Footwork To Steady the Course of Brooklyn's Controversial Atlantic Yards Sports Village, begins with a truly fantastical lead:

Fifteen years ago, the 22-acre plot for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village in Brooklyn, N.Y., was an eyesore. For more than 20 years, drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes had populated the neighborhood. Many buildings were vacant. "Blighted Brooklyn" was a more fitting moniker than the familiar "Brownstone Brooklyn."

My comment:

That's quite a lead paragraph. For fiction.

"Drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes" just a block away from the 78th precinct?
How about checking out
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2006/10/21-years-of-prospect-heights-blight.html
or a description of when the hookers (but not gangs/dealers) roamed, a lot earlier
http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/18/dtgfreddyshistory20100430bk.html
or the court decision on "relatively mild conditions of urban blight"
http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2009/11/faq-on-court-of-appeals-decision-in.html
And no one, even the developer, calls it a "sports village."

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NoLandGrab: Though, as we wrote, it is a sports village.

Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

Developer Gambles on Modular High-Rise for Atlantic Yards Sports Village

Engineering News-Record
by Nadine M. Post

The Engineering News-Record appears to have devoted a good chunk of its July 16th issue to all things Atlantic Yards.

The developer of the residential towers for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village in Brooklyn, N.Y., is hedging its bets. In case negotiations with the building trades don't work out for the first tower, planned as the world's tallest modular building, Forest City Ratner Cos. is poised to construct the 32-story high-rise the conventional way.

The Brooklyn-based developer is so hyped on modular that even if the high-rise plan does not fly, it intends to set up shop as a third-party modular building fabricator. "We think [modular] can be explosive for the business," says Robert P. Sanna, FCRC director of construction and design development.

Hopefully not as "explosive" as those manhole covers.

The high-rise modular approach is the brainchild of Bruce C. Ratner, FCRC's chairman and CEO. His scheme was born of a need to find a more economical way to deliver 6,430 units of affordable and market-rate rental housing, comprising six million sq ft in 14 buildings.

If by "brainchild" they mean "stealing the idea and all the senior staff from the company that developed the technology," then yes, it was Bruce Ratner's "brainchild."

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Related stories...

Engineering News-Record, Reshaping of Barclays Center Arena Made Possible By Collaboration, Digital Tools

Opportunity knocked for SHoP Architects on July 2, 2009. On that Thursday, Bruce C. Ratner, the beleaguered developer of the controversial Atlantic Yards sports village planned for Brooklyn, N.Y., made an offer that any architect would be crazy to turn down but almost as crazy to accept.

Ratner wanted SHoP to put a better face on a critically panned redesign for his $825-million Barclays Center arena—the centerpiece of the 22-acre transit-oriented development. And he wanted a sketch from SHoP in only five days.

Yes, and Brett Yormark only sleeps three hours a night.

However, SHoP wasn't the only firm in an awkward position. In late 2008, FCRC approached EB with a dubious offer it didn't refuse. "Bruce Ratner said, 'I literally want you to take Conseco Field and place it on our site,'" says Stephen J. Duethman, the project manager in Kansas City, Mo., for EB, which, as a result of a merger, operates under AECOM's name.

That strategy was not possible, he adds. But, in 2009, EB did as little as possible to modify its Indianapolis arena so that it would fit into a tight urban site.
...

The total cost of the facade redesign is $54 million. "We had to make the investment for public reasons," says Sanna.

Engineering News-Record, Fancy Footwork To Steady the Course of Brooklyn's Controversial Atlantic Yards Sports Village

ENR should probably stick to engineering and steer clear of social history.

Fifteen years ago, the 22-acre plot for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards sports village in Brooklyn, N.Y., was an eyesore. For more than 20 years, drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes had populated the neighborhood. Many buildings were vacant. "Blighted Brooklyn" was a more fitting moniker than the familiar "Brownstone Brooklyn."

Now, crime is down, and land values are way up. Pedestrians are pushing strollers, not drugs. Brooklyn is on the map, thanks in large part to developer Bruce C. Ratner. In the late 1980s, he went where no Manhattan developer dared to go—to Brooklyn. First came an office campus called MetroTech Center (ENR 2/10/92 p. 26). Other commercial projects, which border the Atlantic Yards site, followed.

The urban pioneer's stake in the New York City borough, population 2.5 million, did not prepare him for the controversy over his most ambitious project: a public-private village set over a railyard next to the city's third-largest transit hub (ENR 3/8/04 p. 29). Foes of the Atlantic Yards plan, unveiled in 2003, often refer to Ratner by the first syllable of his name and remain outraged by the development's scale, density and architecture. Their lawsuits delayed Ratner's plan but failed to stop it.

Critics are especially appalled by the village's centerpiece: a 675,000-sq-ft arena for the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets, owned in part by Ratner. Barclays Center is set to open with a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28, five years later than first planned.

Six years, actually, but who's counting.

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder objects to the "sports village" moniker, but we think it's spot-on — especially given the complete absence of any promised housing, offices, retail or open space.

Posted by eric at 12:03 PM

July 11, 2012

Photos: preliminary work on the site for Building 2, the first modular tower

Atlantic Yards Report

On Monday, Forest City Ratner began work on the foundation and piles for the first residential tower (aka Building 2 or Tower 2), having announced Department of Buildings approval two days before the DOB actually granted it.

Forest City has announced plans to build the first tower using modular construction, and has said a lease on a modular factory would be signed this month, though no formal announcement has been made.

At 32 stories and some 350 units, it would be the tallest modular building ever, a technological gamble of sorts, as well as a gambit that could save Forest City Ratner significant money and time. Construction would not start until the arena opens. Forest City has not yet described how construction would disrupt foot traffic.

Below, photos by community contributor AYInfoNYC taken Monday of initial work. Note that the space around the arena is somewhat exaggerated because the fencing goes past the property line to the edge of the sidewalk.

link

Posted by eric at 1:39 PM

Improvisation with wiring at Atlantic Yards

Raulism via YouTube

Remember a week ago when manholes near the Barclays Center keep spouting flames, homes and businesses suffered days without power, and Con Ed said it had nothing to do with arena construction?

Yeah, right.

These wires on Dean Street, just west of Vanderbilt Avenue, show a level of improvisation reminiscent of contemporary art installation. One suspects, however, that there might be a functional purpose behind apparent homàge á John Cage.

link

NoLandGrab: “'We already have engineered for that, separately from the surrounding community,' said Chris Olert, [Con Ed's] assistant director of media relations. Engineered?

Posted by eric at 1:21 PM

July 8, 2012

The impact of third-shift work at the arena site, 11:30 pm: "Loud hammering, sawing, welding, yelling, and all sorts of incredibly loud noise"

Atlantic Yards Report

From Thursday night, July 5, as recounted on Atlantic Yards Watch, from a poster who preemptively takes the name "Not.A.NIMBY":

Location:
Barclays Center site
When:
July 5, 2012 - 11:14pm
311: 185447938
Loud hammering, sawing, welding, yelling, and all sorts of incredibly loud noise. Did not even start until 10.30 PM, so this isn't them working late to finish something, this is them deciding to start working very late at night. In a time of year when residents (and this is a heavily residential neighborhood) have their windows open, they should not be performing heavy and loud construction at almost midnight. They're still going strong at 11.30 PM, with no end in sight.

On June 25, workers began third-shift work at the arena site, involving elevator system electrical work, as well as work on the facade and roof. There was no indication of noise impacts.

link

Posted by eric at 9:47 PM

July 6, 2012

Two days after Forest City announces "preliminary approval" for work on first tower, Department of Buildings indicates that's so

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote on July 3 how developer Forest City Ratner plans to start work on July 9 on pile and foundation work for the first Atlantic Yards tower.

But it's unclear what "preliminary approval" for such work from the Department of Buildings meant, as no permit had been issued.

The "preliminary approval" was related by Empire State Development, in the bi-weekly Construction Update prepared by Forest City and released July 3 (but dated July 2), and the ESD's Arana Hankin elaborated not so completely:

“FCRC have been talking with DOB about this work, but a permit still has not been issued. Some of the foundation work must be completed before the arena opens because of the close proximity of B2 to the arena. Other work on B2 will commence before the end of the year.”

I tried on July 3 to find out from the Department of Buildings what "preliminary approval" means. I tried again yesterday, without success.

A July 5 update

But the DOB's web site now indicates approval for such work, which either means 1) the DOB is slow in updating its web site (and getting back to press), 2) Forest City got a promise before it was actually approved and/or paperwork filed, or 3) both.

Evidence leans toward the second explanation, because all the documents were filed yesterday.

link

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

July 4, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: Barclays sign being erected; work on perimeter of arena progresses; more noise in neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

Beyond the quiet announcement that pile/foundation work would start on the first tower, there are a couple of other notable mentions in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 7/2/12 (and embedded below) and released today by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

Among them:

  • the Flatbush Avenue Barclays sign is being erected (it may not be the best time for a Barclays sign)
  • significant sidewalk and plaza work is being done around the arena (and blocking the sidewalk)
  • potentially noisy demolition will continue intermittently on Block 1129, site of the surface parking lot
  • nighttime work on the Atlantic Avenue medians would require jack hammers

article

Posted by eric at 10:09 AM

Forest City Ratner to start pile/foundation work on first tower; DOB "preliminary approval" received, but no permit (which means?)

Atlantic Yards Report

There's some news buried in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated July 2 and issued this morning by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner: the developer is starting work on the long-delayed first tower, slated to include 50% subsidized aka "affordable" housing. Forest City has said the tower would be modular construction.

There's some murkiness, however, because it claims that "preliminary approval" has been received by the Department of Buildings, even though no permit has been issued, as confirmed by the DOB pages regarding the site.

The Construction Alert states:

Tower 2 • Work will commence on July 9th on pile and foundation work required for T2 which will need to be in place prior to arena opening. DOB preliminary approval has been received.
Tower 2
• Installation of piles as part of the Tower 2 early work program will take place on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15th during regular working hours adjacent to the south wall of the arena and Flatbush Avenue.

ESD explanation

I queried Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development. Her response:

“FCRC have been talking with DOB about this work, but a permit still has not been issued. Some of the foundation work must be completed before the arena opens because of the close proximity of B2 to the arena. Other work on B2 will commence before the end of the year.”

Well, it certainly makes sense to get the foundation work started before a whole bunch of people start walking nearby. But if there's no permit, why offer "preliminary approval"?

article

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

July 3, 2012

From AY Watch: construction vehicles on Sixth Avenue sidewalk force pedestrians into street; no one takes charge to diminish hazardous conditions

Atlantic Yards Report

Those traversing Sixth Avenue at about 3 pm yesterday adjacent to the Barclays Center site had to contend with some hazardous conditions, as documented on Atlantic Yards Watch. There was no passageway on the west side of the street, as a construction fence extends to the sidewalk.

On the east side of the street, a dump truck was parked on the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians walking north, including women pushing baby carriages, into an area of the street set off from traffic by construction cones, then cutting past a parked earth mover. No one directed pedestrians.

Later, as seen in the first video below, some pedestrians were forced outside the cones by parked cars, apparently from construction workers. And, as seen in the second video, some pedestrians walking south along the east side of the street found themselves on a precarious path in between the construction fencing and the traffic.

link

Posted by eric at 1:56 PM

July 1, 2012

The demise of the (structurally unsound) 1866 Church of the Redeemer near the arena and the mitigation plan (for shadows only) not implemented

Atlantic Yards Report

As reported by Brownstoner and the Brooklyn Paper, the Church of the Redeemer, a non-landmarked 1866 Gothic Revival church at the northwest corner of Pacific Street and Fourth Avenue, is structurally unsound and will be demolished.

It will be replaced by a much larger building, up to 120 feet, and is expected to include a church. Commenters wonder whether it will be an improvement on some of the undistinguished residential buildings just down the block.

...

Under the plan for Atlantic Yards, the project sponsors were supposed to help mitigate one set of impacts on the church--shadows--by fixing the windows.

But that plan, never implemented because the nearby building has not been built, would not have addressed the fundamental problems faced by a building, as a Brownstoner commenter suggested, with a crumbling foundation, the result of construction completed long before the adjacent subway was built.

link

Posted by steve at 7:49 PM

June 29, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

link

Posted by eric at 10:23 AM

June 25, 2012

Barclays Center – and down the stretch we come

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

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

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

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

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

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

article

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

Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

June 23, 2012

Was Barclays Center struck by lightning?

Atlantic Yards Watch

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

link

Posted by steve at 5:36 PM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

Installation vs. placement

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

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

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

link

Posted by steve at 5:32 PM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

link

Posted by steve at 5:26 PM

June 19, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

article

Posted by eric at 1:30 PM

June 18, 2012

DOB orders stop work on Barclays Center parking lot

Atlantic Yards Watch

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

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

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

article

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

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

Atlantic Yards Watch

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

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

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

article

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

Related coverage...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

June 16, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

link

Posted by steve at 2:38 PM

June 12, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

article

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

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

June 8, 2012

The Barclays Center Makes Progress

SHopdoes

SHoP Architects' blog praises the work being done by SHoP Architects on the Barclays Center.

The mega-panels at The Barclays Center are made up of glass and aluminum curtain wall with weathering steel latticework factory installed to the mullions. They are typically 10 feet wide and range up to 40 feet tall. The pattern is impressive on each individual panel, but it’s even more impressive as the building takes shape and the overall pattern reveals itself. Every subtle twist and turn modeled by SHoP in the weathering steel latticework comes together seamlessly as each panel is installed.

link

Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

June 7, 2012

Breaking city rules, construction workers take a break, and smoke, at the Dean Playground

Atlantic Yards Report

Rule-breaking dopes brought to you by the letters F, C and R!

It's not the first time that construction workers (almost surely) from the Atlantic Yards site have been caught taking a break in the Dean Playground, despite city rules that bar adults from hanging out in playgrounds if they're not supervising kids.

But it's the first time they've been caught smoking, which violates one of the playground rules. (It's also a rule, by now, in city parks.)

Atlantic Yards Watch has two sets of photos, one set taken yesterday, with the workers smoking, and another taken June 4, with the workers just hanging out.

Enforcement would seem to be a job for both the Parks Department and the Police Department; according to AY Watch, 311 advised a call to the former.

A few construction workers, at least, do not think rules apply to them; hence the creation of free parking by uprooting a "No Standing" sign.

link

NoLandGrab: One might think it's also a job for Forest City Ratner and its state puppet overseer, Empire State Development, no?

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Bikers moving out to make way for builders

Real Estate Weekly
by Sarah Trefethen

Forest City Ratner is four to six weeks away from signing a lease for 100,000 s/f of factory space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to executive vice president MaryAnne Gilmartin.

The space is currently occupied by NYC Bike Share, which is scheduled to relocate to a permanent home in Sunset Park this fall. When that happens, Forest City will ramp up the city’s first factory for building residential high-rise buildings.

The developer plans to build a 32-story, 350-unit residential tower at Atlantic Yards by inserting the factory-built building modules into a steel chassis built on site, Gilmartin told guests at the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation’s “Glimpse the Future of the AEC Industry” event Tuesday morning.

article

NoLandGrab: In Forest City Ratner-speak, "four to six weeks" could mean anywhere from nine months to 25 years.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Forest City's Gilmartin says modular factory lease to be signed in four to six weeks

I'm placing a later quote ahead of an earlier one, but the juxtaposition is telling. At one point, Gilmartin says, “This is absolutely about bringing the unions to the table.”

At another, however, "she expects that in-factory workers will be paid $36 per hour, while the construction workers on-site will make $90 per hour." No wonder Forest City remains in negotiations with the unions.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

June 6, 2012

Brooklyn's Under-Construction Barclays Center Revealed!

Curbed
by Dave Hogarty

Curbed serves up a nice free commercial for the Barclays Center.

link

NoLandGrab: Best moment? SHoP principal Chris Sharples talking about the "level of openness and transparency." Not in the process!

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

June 4, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: get ready for more loud noises at night, surface parking lot demolition, and Atlantic Avenue median work

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 6/4/12 (and embedded below) and released today by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, continues to warn of loud banging noises by dump trucks from 3:30 pm – 1 am as they empty their loads of stone in the east yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues.

These truckload deliveries of stone, which were expected to last ten days in May, instead are expected to continue through June 15th.

Also, work on the surface parking lot now requires demolition of underground concrete structures by hoe ram and will continue intermittently over the next week or so.

Also, work on Atlantic Avenues medians is scheduled to start the week of June 11. While the work will be done during daytime hours, some traffic signal and street light conduit work may occur during the nighttime hours.

article

NoLandGrab: We're sure there's a perfectly ridiculous reason why they can't empty loads of stone between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. rather than between 3:30 p.m. and 1 a.m., or why they can't double the number of trucks in order to deliver twice as much stone between 3:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., so we're all ears.

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

June 1, 2012

From Atlantic Yards Watch: blocking the curb at Pacific Street; dump trucks on Bergen Street; tractors on Dean Street

Atlantic Yards Watch

When the NYPD sets such a fine example, this is what we get.

Why's there a need for a Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan, to discourage driving, add signage, and beef up sanitation and traffic enforcement, among other things?

Because the arena's encroaching on a residential neighborhood, and violations of construction rules and local laws continue to take their toll on the streets around the Atlantic Yards site.

From Atlantic Yards Watch: Contractors and workers at the Atlantic Yards site continue to park on the sidewalk at Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue, increasing danger to pedestrians and even damaging the curb. The blue pickup truck, according to AY Watch, is owned by The Laquila Group.

link

Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

May 26, 2012

Barclays Center Update

CBS New York

WCBS 880's Tom Kaminski was up in Chopper 880 this week, and he snapped some photos of the under-construction Barclays Center.

link

NoLandGrab: Here's a sneak peak of what it'll look like when it's done. And when your sandwich is ready.

Posted by eric at 5:44 PM

May 21, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: noisy jackhammering on Atlantic Avenue will be by day, not night; surface parking lot scheduled to start soon

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 5/21/12 (and embedded below) and released today by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, quietly reveals that noisy jackhammering along Atlantic Avenue will be done during the day, thus sparing residents' sleep, even as it may cause drivers to complain.

Work on raised medians along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue--aimed to mitigate the impact of traffic and make it easier to cross--was supposed to begin in April but apparently has been delayed as the methods were debated. (Previous late-night jackhammering disturbed many residents.)

And while the state agency (via Forest City) had stated that work at night would be faster, the city Department of Transportation's Office of Construction Mitigation and Coordination (OCMC) "reviewed the scope and location of the medians and determined the work shall be performed during daytime hours."

That will take lanes out of service during the work period, though some traffic signal and street light conduit work may occur during nighttime hours. Because other project-related work will take lanes out of service, the median work must be scheduled block by block.

Other highlights: railyard lights, parking lot

Also noted in the Construction Alert, some railyard lights in the eastern portion of the yard will not be turned off at 3 am on some nights but will be left on during some light plumbing work that is described as quiet and subject to cancellation if there is rain.

Also, as work in the north rail yard is completed in preparation for cutover in mid-June, and work in the yard turns into a 24-hour a day operation around that time, yard lights will on all night, and it's possible "that yard lights may intermittently need to be turned on all night through the end of June."

This "is essential to timely completion" of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, which is supposed to be open before the arena opens September 28 but is currently delayed.

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NoLandGrab: Funny, we kinda thought not waiting for three years to begin reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue bridge after beginning its demolition in January 2008 would've been "essential to the timely completion" of the bridge.

Posted by eric at 11:27 PM

May 17, 2012

Railyard lights and construction may extend to 24 hours through June

Atlantic Yards Watch

Empire State Development continues to do absolutely nothing to protect the interests of people living near the Atlantic Yards site.

ESDC and FCRC have issued a supplemental construction alert giving notice that work in Vanderbilt railyard will be extended to 24 hours a day for some periods through June. Work already takes place in the railyard from 6 AM to 3 AM. The notice states that working hours are being expanded to help speed up the reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge. Work to reconstruct the bridge began in December 2010, nearly 3 years after it was closed for reconstruction.

According to the notice, plumbing work scheduled over the next few weeks and located in the section of the railyard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues cannot be executed while other work is taking place there. It is described as "quiet work" that will be localized and intermittent. The work will be lit either by the LIRR yard's permanent lights (only those lights in the vicinity of the work), or by portable lights.

The hours the lights will be used will be expanded again when the "cutover" of LIRR operations from the southern tracks to the northern tracks takes place. Around the clock work will occur immediately before and during the cutover, which will take place over the course of two weekends in mid-June. Moving LIRR operations to the northern tracks is the next step in the construction of the railyard. The southern half now has to be lowered 27 feet to be at the same height as the recently excavated northern half.

Numerous complaints about the lights spilling over into nearby residences have been received by AYW. In the past, neighbors residing near the railyard have noted all the yard lights have been turned on even when a small number of workers have been concentrated in just a portion of the two-block area.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, A delay in the railyard cutover means... a delay in completion of the Carlton Avenue Bridge?

Posted by eric at 11:58 AM

May 14, 2012

Sleep tight: Railyard lights to be on all night to rush completion of delayed Carlton Avenue Bridge

Atlantic Yards Report

Ratner (and ESDC) to residents near Atlantic Yards site: "F**k you!"

Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, today issued a Supplemental Report to its regular two-week Construction Updates.

The gist: floodlights at the Vanderbilt Yard that are supposed* to be off by 3 am may be on all night during the next two week period, in mid-June, and possibly through the end of June. That means residents nearby to ensure they have very thorough coverage blocking their windows.

Why'd I add the asterisk? Because residents have already reported, via Atlantic Yards Watch, that those operating the lights do not necessarily follow the stated plan.

The reason? Developer Forest City Ratner is rushing to achieve "timely completion" of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, indicated in the announcement by the rather cryptic initials CAB.

What's missing? That the current schedule for the bridge indicates completion in the week after the arena opens, though the reconstruction of the bridge is an "arena opening condition," and the state has asked Forest City Ratner to draw up mitigation plans in case the arena opens September 28 without having the bridge open. The bridge is a major artery between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene.

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Posted by eric at 5:05 PM

May 12, 2012

New Construction Alert: three parking spaces on Dean Street lost as of May 14

Atlantic Yards Report

An announcement from Empire State Development indicates a change along Dean Street is coming on Monday:

Approximately three (3) parking spaces along Dean Street directly across from the gate at Dean and 6th Avenue will be taken for construction purposes, effective Monday, May 14, 2012. This became necessary after the construction fence and gate located in this area were relocated to outside the curb line to allow for the installation of the new curb, sidewalk and bollards. The removal of the spaces is necessary in order to maintain the turning radius for truck deliveries into and out of this gate. At completion a new fence will be installed in board of the new curb. It is anticipated that this condition will be in place for two months during which time all work will be completed, weather permitting and barring any unforeseen conditions.

(I'm not quite sure what "in board of the new curb" means, nor exactly where the spaces are. How about a map?)

link

Posted by steve at 5:46 PM

May 9, 2012

Consultant's report: arena still on schedule, but mystery document not yet analyzed and made public

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Site Observation Report, dated 5/1/12 and prepared by construction consultant Merritt & Harris on behalf of the arena bond trustee, Forest City Ratner, and Empire State Development, the Barclays Center arena is on schedule for substantial completion by 9/5/12--a date that was nudged back earlier this year--and a final completion by 6/30/13.

The associated transit connection is 3.5 months late beyond the 4/2/12 schedule,, but given that it doesn't need to open until the arena does, the slippage "will have no impact on the overall project schedule. "The slippage was dubiously attributed to "early delays." There were no such early delays.

Nor, actually, is either schedule completely credible, since, as I've reported, they revised the charts.

Schedule unclear

There's still a mystery. As noted in the screenshot below, the GMP2 [Guaranteed Maximum Price] executed 3/9/12 clarifies any "extension of the construction term" and "establishes the final completion date."

Merritt & Harris is still reviewing it. Note that the GMP2 was supposed to be issued before the end of 2011.

article

Posted by eric at 1:07 PM

May 8, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: "loud banging noises" predicted until 1 am over ten days; work to begin on broadcast parking lot, comfort station at Dean Playground

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 5/7/12 (and embedded below) and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner, contains some warnings to neighbors near the site.

Notably, from 3:30pm – 1:00 am between May 10-20, residents should expect to hear "loud banging noises by dump trucks will occur as they empty their loads of stone in the east yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues."

Also, there will be additional demolition on the southeast block of the project site, Block 1129, in preparation for construction on the surface parking lot, which is to start May 15.

New broadcast parking lot, comfort station

A "vacant lot at the northeast corner of Dean Street and 6th Avenue that is currently being used as temporary NYPD parking will be improved for use as an at grade broadcast location for the Arena," according to the alert. Of course, the lot was dis-improved by being created out of, in part, two intact houses that were demolished. A Department of Buildings permit is expected within two weeks.

article

NoLandGrab: As far as we know, those "loud banging noises" have nothing to do with James P. Stuckey.

Posted by eric at 1:14 PM

May 7, 2012

From Crain's Insider: Atlantic Yards subcontractors worried

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's Insider today, Subs at Atlantic Yards Worried:

Subcontractors at the Atlantic Yards fear that money withheld by Forest City Ratner’s contractor won’t be paid to them when the project nears completion. “Toward the end, there’s a lot of change orders,” said Ron Berger, executive director of the Subcontractors Trade Association. “We’re worried they don’t have sufficient funds to pay for the change orders.” Berger wants the developer to float a $50 million bond to set aside cash; FCR offered $25 million. Regardless, a spokesman for the developer said, the trustee of the public bonds floated by the company has put aside money to pay subcontractors.

link

NoLandGrab: Pshaw! Bruce Ratner has kept all his other promises, hasn't he? Oh, um, wait a minute...

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

"Mayor Bloomberg, I take sleeping pills in an effort to sleep through disruptions."

Atlantic Yards Watch

Below is a copy of an open letter sent to the Mayor and to The New York Times by a local resident. The resident lives near what is now the construction staging area for the project and will soon become a full block of surface parking. It is also currently anticipated to continue as a location for construction staging for 25 years or more. Unlike most arenas and stadiums around the country, the operation of Barclays Center is integrated into a residential community.

April 27, 2012

An open letter to Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York:

My daughter Chelsea was born December 29, 2010 in the nasty aftermath of the Blizzard that crippled New York. Conquering the obstacles of unplowed Brooklyn streets, we made it to the hospital in one piece and came home with our little girl. We’re New Yorkers and can navigate a difficult situation. However, since bringing her home almost a year and a half ago, her days and nights have been filled with the relentless noise, dust, dirt and vibration of a project that you’ve given your support to: The Atlantic Yards Project.

Our apartment on Carlton Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn faces the staging area for this development that few have rallied for and many have opposed. Last night at 11:00 pm our entire apartment shook with a force equal to or greater than that of the earthquake that hit this area last summer. This morning tractors were buzzing around at 4:00 a.m. This has become the status quo and I’ve had enough. I’m not opposed to development, but I am most definitely opposed to disrupting the sleep and well being of a community.

I now go to bed at night dreading the inevitable wake ups. My wife and I take sleeping pills in an effort to sleep through the disruptions. We create white noise in the bedrooms to drown out the noise. My blood pressure has gone up in this time and my daughter wakes up crying.

Click below to keep reading.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Atlantic Yards Watch: "Mayor Bloomberg, I take sleeping pills in an effort to sleep through disruptions."

Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams sounds concerned about getting community input regarding Atlantic Yards, but he really has much more urgent issues on his agenda, ones that were touched on but not fully explored during his May 2 community meeting.

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

May 5, 2012

From Crain's Insider: Atlantic Yards subcontractors worried

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's Insider today, Subs at Atlantic Yards Worried:

Subcontractors at the Atlantic Yards fear that money withheld by Forest City Ratner’s contractor won’t be paid to them when the project nears completion. “Toward the end, there’s a lot of change orders,” said Ron Berger, executive director of the Subcontractors Trade Association. “We’re worried they don’t have sufficient funds to pay for the change orders.” Berger wants the developer to float a $50 million bond to set aside cash; FCR offered $25 million. Regardless, a spokesman for the developer said, the trustee of the public bonds floated by the company has put aside money to pay subcontractors.

link

Posted by steve at 6:52 PM

From Atlantic Yards Watch: "Mayor Bloomberg, I take sleeping pills in an effort to sleep through disruptions."

Atlantic Yards Report

Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams sounds concerned about getting community input regarding Atlantic Yards, but he really has much more urgent issues on his agenda, ones that were touched on but not fully explored during his May 2 community meeting.

Atlantic Yards Watch has posted an open letter to Mayor Mike Bloomberg from a Carlton Avenue resident who lives near what is now the construction staging area for the project and will soon become a full block of surface parking--and likely will continue as a location for construction staging for decades.

This is the price, it seems of building an arena project that encroaches on a residential community. An excerpt:

Last night at 11:00 pm our entire apartment shook with a force equal to or greater than that of the earthquake that hit this area last summer. This morning tractors were buzzing around at 4:00 a.m. This has become the status quo and I’ve had enough. I’m not opposed to development, but I am most definitely opposed to disrupting the sleep and well being of a community.
I now go to bed at night dreading the inevitable wake ups. My wife and I take sleeping pills in an effort to sleep through the disruptions. We create white noise in the bedrooms to drown out the noise. My blood pressure has gone up in this time and my daughter wakes up crying.
My wife and I have lodged a dozen or so calls to 311, contacted the Atlantic Yards Project, called our Council Member, complained to one of the trucking companies, and logged complaints on a locally run website. Unfortunately, it’s a fruitless effort and I believe our only recourse may be incurring the expense and disruption of packing up my family and moving from a home and neighborhood that we love.

For more, go to Atlantic Yards Watch.

link

Posted by steve at 6:50 PM

May 1, 2012

FCR's Glimartin: modular factory coming to Brooklyn Navy Yard

Atlantic Yards Report

It's long been known that Forest City Ratner was considering the Brooklyn Navy Yard for a factory to build modules for its prefab plan, but EVP MaryAnne Gilmartin, according to GlobeSt.com, says the Navy Yard is the place.

According to the report:

And although the company is underwriting the construction with an 18-month timeframe in mind, it believes as much as six months can be shaved off by going modular. Meanwhile, she said, renters at the tower will find the same design standards as they would in a conventionally built apartment high-rise: “No one will feel they got short shrift because they’re in a modular building.”

Keep watch, I'd suggest, for Forest City's search for subsidies to get the project off the ground.

Gilmartin, according to the article, said the developer plans to start on the first arena block tower, the world's tallest building at 34 stories, later this year. Company CEO Bruce Ratner last week allowed that the time frame could slip until 2013. It's been pushed back again and again.

link

Related content...

GlobeSt.com, Gilmartin: ‘Modular is Coming’ to High-Rises

Modular building is still mostly a European phenomenon, Gilmartin said, noting that the world’s tallest tower produced thus far with this system is a 25-story structure outside London. FCRC intends to change that, with the goal of deploying a modular factory at Brooklyn Navy Yard not only for its own projects but also eventually for third-party customers, “our competitors,” she pointed out.

That’s the long-term plan. More immediately, said Gilmartin, “If we build a 34-story modular building in Brooklyn, we have the finest advertisement for modular construction in the world.”

NoLandGrab: Unless it falls over. Then, not so fine.

Posted by eric at 9:48 PM

April 27, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

Press coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gothamist didn't quote the FTE numbers but stressed:

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

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

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Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

April 24, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

April 20, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 10:54 AM

April 14, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

From Brownstoner:

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

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

link

Related coverage...

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

Posted by steve at 5:31 PM

April 10, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

April 6, 2012

Transit connection to arena now said to be less delayed than was reported last month. How so? Construction monitor fudged the timetable.

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner is moving the goalposts so much on construction you'd think they were building a football stadium rather than a basketball arena.

Barclays Center bondholders take note: they moved the goalposts again regarding project construction. And while that may not make it less likely you'll get the interest you expect, it sure raises questions about the credibility of the reports you're getting.

Once a month, real estate consultant Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant that "strives to be the leader in providing consistently excellent construction-related services to the real estate lending and investment community," issues a Site Observation Report report to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (Bank of New York Mellon), Forest City Ratner, and the Empire State Development Corporation.

In the latest report is dated 4/2/12 and based on a visit of 2/23/12 and documents made available 3/20/12, Merritt and Harris began fudging the schedule for the new Transit Connection.

In other words, as with the arena, Merritt and Harris declared the Transit Connection less behind schedule than previously estimated, all because it extended the schedule, with no real explanation.

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Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

Consultant: arena curtain wall has several deficiencies that need corrective work

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), dated 4/2/12, reports new problems related to the arena curtain wall, the responsibility of the ill-fated subcontractor ASI Limited, which shut down briefly at the end of last year.

Beyond the delay in preparing and constructing the weathered steel panels, the curtain wall installation has several problems, including "pinched power cables at panel lighting," "misaligned junction between curtain wall panels," and "damaged insulation/vapor barrier on curtain wall panels."

It's not clear how serious the defects are and how long they will take to correct, but ASI Limited is expected to perform the corrective work.

link

NoLandGrab: Surely those deficiencies won't affect its blast resistance, though, right? Right?

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

How many workers at the Atlantic Yards arena/transit site? Bondholders don't get told

Atlantic Yards Report

What was it we said about "Reply Hazy - Try Again?"

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), is supposed to tell bondholders how the project is doing.

One thing it typically explains is how many workers are at the site. Below is the excerpt from this month's report, dated 4/2/12, and based on a visit of 2/23/12 and documents made available 3/20/12.

As you can see, we don't really know the number of workers at the site (which excludes the Vanderbilt Yard/Carlton Avenue Bridge) because there are strikes through the numbers. Those were the numbers reported last month, so perhaps this new report was issued carelessly without such an update.

link

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

March 31, 2012

"Hey, you! Out there! I've got kids trying to sleep!"

Atlantic Yards Watch

Your peaceful night's sleep, courtesy of Mr. Sandman Bruce Ratner...

Loud noises at night have triggered multiple incident reports filled with the exasperation of local residents in the last several days and weeks. One Dean Street resident last night shouted "Hey, you! Out there! I've got kids trying to sleep!" to a worker banging his crowbar against a fender in the staging area at 10:30 PM. In another case a resident on Vanderbilt reports a vibration so impactful artwork fell off the walls at 12:15 AM.

A resident on St. Mark's Avenue reports "intense pounding/crashing noises coming from the construction site as I write -- "and we are 3 blocks away with sound-proofed windows! ... How is this permissable?" St. Marks Avenue is uphill from the construction site and some rear windows have an unobstructed path for sounds emanating from the construction site. The filer reports noise extending to 1 AM on Wednesday night.

Another filer from Pacific Street reports two "extremely noisy" nights in a row and that "the loud beeping sound of the trucks with loud bangs and booms stops me from sleeping. I can still hear it even with ear plugs." The filer also complains about the "bright white stadium lights that shine directly into my bedroom window." The lights are railyard lights installed to faciliate LIRR repairs that can only be executed when the railyard is dormant, but have been retasked by FCRC for use now by construction crews. The filer asks, "Does anyone take these complaints seriously or will I have to takes matters into my own hands and seek legal advice?"

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NoLandGrab: The answers are, respectively, "no" and "yes."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch: residents exasperated by loud noises at night; state agency asks Forest City not to use noisy hoe ram

The "jackhammering" sound, 1:30 am, March 22

Posted by eric at 11:50 PM

March 28, 2012

"We're on schedule," says FCR construction executive Sanna, but he doesn't sound certain

Atlantic Yards Report

There's an intriguing quote from Forest City Ratner construction chief Bob Sanna in a NY1 puff piece (mostly) on the Barclays Center, keyed to a visit from Nets Coach Avery Johnson.

(Surely the headline, Nets Coach Takes His First Tour of Barclays Center, is overstated. It's the first time he visited the building since the roof was enclosed.)

"We're on schedule," Sanna said, in a slightly defensive tone. "I mean, in this kind of business where you're outside all the time and materials are coming from all over the United States, any one thing can drive your schedule, but we're on schedule right now, scheduled to complete in September."

That leads to the question: if they go off schedule, what will it take--more overtime, opening the arena without the rebuilt Carlton Avenue Bridge--to get back on schedule?

link

Related content...

NY1, Nets Coach Takes His First Tour Of Barclays Center

Posted by steve at 8:59 AM

March 27, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: new rail track, progress on Carlton Avenue Bridge, delay in traffic mitigation work, creation of surface parking lot to start May 1 (though no plans announced)

Atlantic Yards Report

Below are some excerpts from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 3/26/12 (and embedded below), and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

The highlights include:

  • installation of new rail road track in the west end of Block 1120
  • progress on the North Abutment of the Carlton Avenue Bridge
  • removal of an access ramp to the arena
  • work on the remaining traffic mitigation work will begin in late April, not merely April
  • work on the surface parking lot should begin May 1, though no plans have been announced
  • streets lights and curbs are being installed on Flatbush Avenue

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Posted by eric at 12:03 PM

March 25, 2012

Emergency caused by construction when the Carlton Avenue traffic light is knocked down again

Atlantic Yards Watch

Construction apparently caused an emergency yesterday morning when a traffic signal at the Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street intersection was knocked down for the fourth time this year. This time the knocked over light blocked Pacific Street and electric wires were exposed. Because vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic wasn't routed away from the site, all used the same sidewalk to get around the problem. The incident occurred only a few feet from the location of the work removing the mock-up of the Barclays Center facade announced with a Supplemental Construction Alert on Friday.

...

Because electric wires were exposed and the street was blocked, the resident called 911. Fire fighters from Dean Street's 105th Ladder Company apparently appeared 25 or more minutes later. Several workers associated with Hunt then also came to the site and spoke to firefighters, but refused to identify themselves or talk to residents.

No source of the problem was volunteered by Hunt or the firefighters. An electrician working for the city who arrived around the same time as the fire fighters confirmed construction was the cause. When asked if taxpayers or the construction firm would pay for the work to restore the light, he suggested it would likely be taxpayers.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Atlantic Yards Watch: construction accident knocks down light at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street near work removing facade panel, but sequence remains murky

Here's the video, but much more at Atlantic Yards Watch.

Note that, while an electrician working for the city, according to AY Watch, "confirmed construction was the cause," a Forest City Ratner rep says it was a truck from P.C. Richard. Check back for further updates.

Posted by steve at 11:40 PM

The HRA delay at 470 Vanderbilt and the (delayed) impact on the area around the Atlantic Yards site

Atlantic Yards Report

Brownstoner reported 3/21/12:

HRA’s 470 Vanderbilt Move-in Date Pushed Back
Construction moves along at 470 Vanderbilt Avenue, where the Human Resources Administration signed a lease two years ago. Before construction started up, the move-in was scheduled for Spring 2012; once construction began, it pushed back to the end of this year. An HRA rep tells us the move-in date is now Spring 2013. When the move finally happens, it should bring 1,800 staff and 1,500 visitors to the area on the regular.

What does that mean? Whatever the impact on traffic or pedestrian conditions for the area around the Atlantic Yards site--I argued the state did not consider the impact of office workers and visitors--it won't come until well after some kinks are worked out regarding arena operations.

And that means arena operators should be breathing a little easier.

link

Posted by steve at 11:23 PM

March 24, 2012

This morning: facade mock-up panel on Block 1129 to be removed

Atlantic Yards Report

According to a Supplementary Report to the bi-weekly Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, issued yesterday at 5:48 pm, there will be following action this morning on Block 1129, bounded by Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific streets, which is used for construction staging and parking:

The Facade mock-up panel located in the parking area to the west of 752 Pacific Block will be dismantled and removed using a flatbed truck this Saturday March 25th between the hours of 7am-3pm, weather allowing.

link

Posted by steve at 6:29 PM

March 21, 2012

Dust from trucks in staging area continues for nine hours

Atlantic Yards Watch

Video attached to an incident report shows trucks stirring up what the report calls "drifting dense massive dust" in the staging area on block 1129 today. The video reportedly documents nine hours of activity through the course of the day in which trucks stir up dust. No steps to mitigate the dust took place during that period.

Air monitoring is required to take place upwind and downwind from construction work in order to capture the adverse impact of the work on air quality. The filer reports that the closest air monitors were located on Vanderbilt Avenue at Pacific Street and the Sixth Avenue Bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue. If confirmed, these locations would not seem to be positioned to capture the work causing the dust in this location today. The dust clouds on the video appear to head westward toward Carlton Avenue and Dean Street.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Atlantic Yards Watch: nine hours of dust stirred up by trucks

I have asked Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, for comment.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

March 17, 2012

Atlantic Yards News Roundup

Park Slope Patch
By Peter Saalfield

With the Barclays Center hurtling toward completion, the hustle and bustle of Atlantic Yards seems to be generating more headlines than ever. Taken together, these stories reflect the controversy and excitement that inevitably comes with such a massive project. Here are a few of the most recent:

Reaction to project mixed among local merchants.

...

When will Carlton Avenue re-open?

...

College basketball partnerships announced.

...

Parking and traffic issues continue to draw scrutiny.

...

Construction of residential towers delayed again.

...

Union squabbling amongst construction workers.

...

Which precinct will cover the arena?

link

Posted by steve at 11:06 PM

March 15, 2012

Vote to decide whether some Atlantic Yards builders join new union with reputed mob ties

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

A new labor organization with reputed mob ties is attempting to represent 700 rank-and-file union members working on some of New York’s biggest development projects, include Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards and Manhattan’s Hudson Yards.

The Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union is pushing itself as a viable alternative to the New York City District Council of Carpenters.

About 700 of the District Council’s dock builders will be asked this week to decide by mail ballot which union they want to be affiliated with. Besides performing pier work, dock builders also do underpinning, pile driving and foundation work for non-waterfront projects like Atlantic Yards.

Michael Bilello, the District Council’s newly elected leader, said the vote should be a no-brainer in his organization’s favor, considering Amalgamated leaders were previously booted from his organization over “corruption.”

"It is my hope that our members understand what is truly at stake with this week's vote and send a resounding message: corruption and the mob will not be tolerated by our union," said Bilello in a statement today.

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NoLandGrab: Not tolerated by their union, sure. But tolerated by Forest City Ratner? We'll see.

Posted by eric at 12:06 PM

March 14, 2012

Partial crackdown on Carlton Avenue parking, but construction worker's car apparently gets a pass

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how some construction workers have apparently snagged free parking on Carlton Avenue just north of Atlantic Avenue?

Well, according to video posted on Atlantic Yards Watch, police are ticketing cars parked illegally along that block, but... they gave a pass to a vehicle where a construction vest was visible, indicating the driver's work.

Without an all-day cam, we can't be sure what happened--did the driver somehow luckily stop back at his vehicle when cops were coming through? But the evidence raises questions about selective enforcement.

link

NoLandGrab: Looks like "professional courtesy" now extends to the construction trades.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

Update to Construction Alert: digging of test pits for parking lot has begun; parking lot construction should begin in Maybe

Atlantic Yards Report

Empire State Development today released a Supplemental Report to the Atlantic Yards Construction Update issued yesterday.

The new information regards construction staging on Block 1129, the southeast block between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific streets.

A contractor began digging 30 test pits in preparation for construction of the parking lot to be located on the block. The work, which is expected to take one week, will be conducted during regular hours.

The parking lot construction should begin in May.

link

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

March 13, 2012

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: work on raised Atlantic Avenue medians to begin in April, but unclear whether it will be by day or at night

Atlantic Yards Report

Below are some excerpts from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 3/12/12 and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

One highlight: work is expected to begin in April on the remaining traffic mitigation work, mostly the creation of raised medians along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue. But it's unclear whether the work will be performed during what the alert calls "limited daytime, which will prolong the construction period, or at night between 10 pm and 6 am."

The decision will be made by the Department of Transportation's Office of Construction Mitigation and Coordination (OCMC).

Also, "construction of a tall retaining wall along the Vanderbilt Ave. end of the yard," between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, should begin soon. The southbound traffic lane and adjoining sidewalk will be taken out of service--for how long it's not quite clear--when concrete trucks are present to pum concrete into the wall below.

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Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

March 12, 2012

Forest City takes firm steps toward modular plan, but first building stalled, for now, at Department of Buildings (and what about the unions?)

Atlantic Yards Report

Some good primary reporting from Norman Oder...

When Forest City Ratner last November announced dramatic plans to build the first Atlantic Yards tower--and the rest--using innovative but risky modular construction, I suggested reasons for skepticism, notably that the documentation on file at the time indicated conventional construction.

Last month, however, the developer took firm steps toward a modular building, filing several documents with the Department of Buildings (DOB) that indicated modular plans.

However, the DOB has so far rejected the plans, including construction equipment, plumbing, and mechanical/HVAC. It's unclear whether the DOB's rejection is based on substantive qualms or less critical procedural issues.

Keep in mind that DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri is a fan of FCR's modular plan, and the Bloomberg administration has an obvious interest in having housing delivered.

Latest documents

The latest documentation, filed in the first week of February, indicates that the building would be built with structural steel, rather than, as suggested last year, steel (encased in concrete), a sign of conventional construction.

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Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

March 10, 2012

Construction workers create more free parking: "No Parking" signs on Carlton Avenue covered so vehicles can park; then signs are un-covered when workers leave

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember a construction worker, most likely working at the Barclays Center/railyard site, created his own free parking in January by brazenly uprooting a "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street?

Now Atlantic Yards Watch contributor 700PacificW has captured another episode of self-created free parking, this time just north of the railyard site on Carlton Avenue above Atlantic Avenue.

This time the chicanery is more subtle: rather than get rid of a no-parking sign, the worker has covered at temporary "No Parking" sign during the period of time he needed it for his car. Such signs have been added because of the construction nearby on Atlantic Avenue.
...

At about 00:47 of the video, shot yesterday afternoon at 4:48 pm, the worker approaches his SUV and ultimately removes his reflector vest. At about 1:20, he approaches the covered sign, then removes the cover, so the spot is reserved for the next participant in the scheme.

At 01:34, the driver exits his vehicle, apparently having concluded that that the sign is tilted incorrectly. He straighten it, then returns to his vehicle, and drives off.

There's been no announced prosecution of the worker in the January episode, but such evidence, as well as the evidence in the new video, seems blatant. Presumably the police will be asked about it at the next Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, to be held at Borough Hall on March 15 at 9:30 am.

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NoLandGrab: Thanks, Forest City and ESDC! This kind of blatantly illegal, antisocial and selfish behavior is really making us look forward to the day the Barclays Center brings 18,000 people into the neighborhood.

Posted by eric at 11:44 PM

In China, a 30-story hotel goes up in two weeks

Atlantic Yards Report

If Bruce Ratner was said to be "captivated by a YouTube video depicting the assembly of the 15-story Ark Hotel in China in a matter of days," as the New York Times reported in March 2011, then he must be even more entranced by the more recent assembly of a 30-story hotel in China in just two weeks.

Even though Ratner's company nearly four months ago announced plans to build the first Atlantic Yards tower (and the rest) using modular construction, we haven't heard much since about what would be the world's tallest modular building.

Clearly, assembly would take a lot longer than in China--though it would save significant time and money compared to conventional construction.

link

NoLandGrab: To date, Bruce Ratner has proved himself much more adept at tearing things down than putting them up.

Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

March 9, 2012

Construction monitor: arena still ahead of schedule (if you move the goalposts); new document regarding schedule was to emerge in February, but not seen yet

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest report on Atlantic Yards construction progress, as with its predecessor last month, maintains a 9/5/12 date for substantial completion of the Barclays Arena and site work, giving arena operators little more than three weeks to test building systems before the first event, a 9/28/12 concert with superstar Jay-Z.

And, as with the February report, the latest report fudges the numbers to assert that the arena is "slightly ahead of schedule," based on actual cash flow versus projected cash flow.

That conclusion, however depends on changing the schedule, a slight-of-pen unacknowledged in the latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee. (Dated 3/1/12, it's based on a visit of 1/26/12 and documents made available 2/17/12 review.)

The report mentions a new GMP2 (Guaranteed Maximum Price) schedule to be issued in February that would establish the final completion date. As with many promised documents in the past, it has not emerged in time for the report.

article

Posted by eric at 2:42 PM

March 3, 2012

Late-night noise complaints (from Atlantic Yards Watch) and arena sal(i)vation (from the Post Sports page) regarding college hoops

Atlantic Yards Report

If you read Atlantic Yards Watch, life isn't so lovely near the Atlantic Yards construction site. One neighbor on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues recently reported "Heavy pounding every ten seconds or so that shook our bed." That was at 3:30 am.

Another, in the same area, reported "incessant hammering" at 10:45 pm: "Young children are woken from their sleep, or cannot get to sleep because of all the noise!"

Another filmed, a dump truck blocking northbound traffic on Sixth Avenue and endangering those northbound drivers and bicyclists who must veer into the southbound lane.

...

No matter. There's no section of the newspaper devoted to neighborhood quality of life, but there is one devoted to sports--or, as Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York aptly told Congress, "sports entertainment corporations":

Although sports entertainment corporations have an entire section of every day’s newspaper devoted to them, the Yankees and the Mets are, we must always remember, privately owned entertainment corporations. It’s discouraging that officials are confusing teams with public goods like parks, water and transit that are essential to the city’s public health and economic vitality.

Now college sports are not formally "sports entertainment corporations," but when you add in the sponsorship and endorsement deals for big-time programs, and the astronomical salaries for coaches, they pretty much qualify. Take Lenn Robbins' breathless New York Post column today, Brooklyn's Barclays Center set to become hoops heaven:

Later this year, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a stunning basketball cathedral, will open. The Barclays Center isn’t trying to kid anyone — the Garden is the Garden — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another elite hoops address, another court where kids, especially those in the greatest borough, the County of Kings, can dream about making that highlight basket or buzzer-beater.

...Barclays already announced Kentucky, which could be the reigning national champion, will play Maryland in the inaugural Barclays Center Classic on Nov. 9. LIU-Brooklyn and Morehead State will be the second game of a national/local doubleheader [Nets/arena CEO Brett] Yormark said is the flavor he wants to serve on a consistent basis.

link

Posted by steve at 11:10 PM

Forest City messages: new "No Parking" on Pacific to allow Carlton Avenue Bridge work, "Dear Interested Party" re food vendors

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, some Brooklynites got not one but two messages from Forest City Ratner/Atlantic Yards. The first, a reprise of the "Dear Neighbor" message sent to a select few regarding the potential recruitment of Brooklyn-based food vendors, was addressed to "Dear Interested Party."

No Parking on part of Pacific

The second was this:

This serves as notice as stipulated in DOT Permit #B022012058055 that effective Monday March 5, 2012 there will be No Parking on the north side of Pacific Street from the intersection of Carlton Avenue to approximately 100 feet west of the intersection. Temporary constuction parking regulation signs will be posted to establish this no parking zone. The no parking zone is being established to allow for the reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

link

Posted by steve at 10:59 PM

March 2, 2012

Arena contractor Hunt Construction confident about arena enclosure, but still looking for new fabricators

Atlantic Yards Report

Engineering News-Record reports, in a 3/5/12 article headlined Arena Subcontractor's 'Untimely' Default Delays Winter Enclosure:

The default and temporary shutdown just before New Year's Day of ASI Ltd., a principal subcontractor on the $825-million Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., has delayed completion of the arena's enclosure and forced extra effort by the project's prime contractor, Hunt Construction Group, to keep on track for scheduled completion later this year.

Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna has previously acknowledged delays caused by the temporary closure of ASI Limited. On 1/26/12, he said, "It’s not quite back on schedule yet, but we are about to turn the corner and have that work in place.”

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Related content...

Engineering News-Record, Arena Subcontractor's 'Untimely' Default Delays Winter Enclosure

"Hunt has asked and Ohio Farmers/ASI has reached out to three separate additional fabricators to determine if these shops have the technical means and available time to assist in fabrication," [Hunt Construction project executive Mark ]Gladden says.

The sequencing remains the same, says Gladden. The enclosure will be completed later than scheduled. Rather than stalling work until the walls have been installed, additional temporary enclosures, required to protect some interior spaces, will be used, he says.

"Hunt remains confident that we will complete the project as scheduled," Gladden says.

NoLandGrab: The Nets' perimeter defense is full of holes, so why shouldn't their arena be, too?

Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

February 28, 2012

The latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: efforts redoubled at rodent control; cover on dirt pile finally noted

Atlantic Yards Report

Below are some excerpts from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 2/27/12 and released yesterday by Empire State Development after preparation by Forest City Ratner.

I've bolded the notable changes from the previous alert. Note the increased efforts at rodent control, a huge issue for the surrounding community, and belated efforts to cover a dirt pile, which was cited by Atlantic Yards Watch.

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Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

Barclays Center At Atlantic Yards: New Home Of The Brooklyn Nets Nearing Completion

Newsday via The Huffington Post

After years of controversy, Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards--future home of the Brooklyn Nets--is "much more than halfway complete" according to Bob Sanna, Executive VP of Forest City Ratner Companies.
...

24 months since construction on the site started, construction workers are already installing elevators and the Prospect Heights stadium is finally taking shape.

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Related coverage...

The Source, Barclay Center For BK Nets Almost Complete

A fall opening is expected for the 18K seats arena just in time for a Nets preseason game in their new kingdom. It was Jigga's idea, so it has to work, right?

NoLandGrab: Yeah, right.

Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

February 23, 2012

FCRC covers dirt mountain three weeks late, offers creative interpretation of air quality policy

Atlantic Yards Watch

More than three weeks after it was created, a mountain of dirt the last two construction updates stated "will be completely covered" was finally covered last night.

The lack of covering has been a real concern to nearby residents because of the hazard dust will migrate from the stockpiled material. Dust did blow from a similar pile over the summer. Winter weather conditions, especially this winter, are erratic and do not reliably suppress dust.
...

Until this week, no water misting was observed on the pile or during unloading. Further, the stipulation in the MEC to mist during unloading is not cited in FCRC and ESDC's statement.

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Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

Forest City, via state agency, says pile of dirt's OK because only periodic misting is required. But what about the promise to cover it with filter fabric?

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what does Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of Atlantic Yards, have to say about the massive pile of uncovered dirt on Block 1129, the southeast block of the project site, identified by Atlantic Yards Watch?

I got a response that seemed, from the syntax, to have been prepared by Forest City Ratner and simply passed on by the state agency:

In accordance with the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments [p. 19], section N, Part 4, subpart (a), item (iv), we have maintained dust control of the soil stockpile at block 1129 via water misting. Due to the favorable ambient weather conditions only a periodic misting has been required. Dust monitoring has been in place, as it always is, and no monitors showed any dust events during this period, nor did our on-site OEM [Office of Environmental Monitor] personnel witness any dust events during this period. When the construction of the stockpile is complete it remains the intention of the contractors involved to switch to a cover as means of dust control until the soil is utilized for backfill.

What about the cover?

Even if we take that at face value, given that AYW reports that dust is a common by-product of construction, what to make of the promises in the last two two-week Construction Alerts, beginning with the week of January 30:

Backfill Storage

In order to work more efficiently within the Yard, we will stockpile excess soil required for backfilling the site in our lay down area adjacent to Pacific St in block 1129. The pile will be completely covered with filter fabric and additional measures will be used to prevent run off of soil into Pacific St. We expect the soil, which is non-hazardous, to remain in place until mid-April.

(Emphasis added)

link

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Atlantic Yards

Amplified NY

A construction worker in Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn is seen through the fabric slit of a fence on December 3, 2010.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Chris Farling (zlandr)

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Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

February 22, 2012

Ratner in talks for 100,000 s/f space

Real Estate Weekly
by Sarah Trefethen

Forest City Ratner is in talks to lease a 100,000 s/f factory space at the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

The facility would be the manufacturing hub for pre-fabricated modules the developer wants to use to build on the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn.
...

The first of the 14 residential buildings planned for the site is a 32-story, 350-unit tower scheduled to begin construction this spring.

They mean "scheduled," in quotes.

FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco said the Navy Yards was one of three possible sites the company was considering for a factory base.

Joey from Cobble Hill always tells it straight up, so that's good enough for us.

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Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

New Nets arena shaping up

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

“This is that magic time when the building really begins to take shape, so that you can finally feel it’s an arena,” said Bob Sanna, executive vice president for construction at Forest City Ratner Cos., developer of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets’ 18,000-seat arena.

Yes, magical.

Although it will be months before the Nets' future hardwood-playing floor is installed, much of the arena's interior is starting to shape up.

Premium seats are now being installed in the arena’s lower bowl. The upper-bowl’s seating is already complete, along with the lower and upper concourses.

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Photo: Paul Martinka/NY Post

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: arena "still on schedule to open in September" (but that schedule's less than a month old)

In the New York Post's Brooklyn blog, New Nets arena shaping up, Rich Calder reports today:

Workers earlier this month buttoned up the top of the under-construction Barclays Center in Prospect Heights by completing its steel-roof deck, and they also recently began insulating the rooftop and waterproofing it with a light-gray covering.

...[Forest City executive Bob] Sanna during an interview with the Post yesterday said about 35 percent of the 188,425-square-foot roof is complete and that Barclays Center is still on schedule to open in September.

“We got lucky with the warm weather we've been having. You usually aren't able to get roofers on a roof in February,” said Sanna.

Yes, the warm weather does eliminate certain potential construction challenges. But "on schedule to open in September" is a bit incomplete, given that only this month was the substantial completion date pushed back from late August to early September.

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM

February 20, 2012

What's going on here? Your basic truck carrying unknown cargo idling on a residential street on the way to the arena site

Atlantic Yards Report

What's going on here? As Atlantic Yards Watch documented on the morning of Friday, 2/17/12, flaggers on (privatized) Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues apparently let a delivery truck bound for the Barclays Center site advance onto residential Pacific Street west of Carlton.

It idled more than 20 minutes in the street, as if double-parking. The contents? Apparently "unknown barrels of chemicals."

link

NoLandGrab: Conversely, they might just be getting ready to test the arena's deep fryers.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

February 18, 2012

Mountain of soil grows on block 1129, creating dust hazard and violating environmental protocols

Atlantic Yards Watch

A 2 1/2 story tall mound of soil, described as backfill in the last two construction alerts (January 30 and February 13), has been uncovered on an ongoing basis since it was first created over two weeks ago. The mound is located in the staging area on block 1129 and continues to grow. The mound has a base of about 150 by 100 feet. The photo above on the left is the view from Vanderbilt Avenue toward the west. The photo to the right is the view south from the third story of a residential building on Dean Street.

Although the mound has never been covered, both construction alerts describe it as covered. They state, "the pile will be completely covered with filter fabric and additional measures will be used to prevent run off of soil onto Pacific Street." All stockpiled dry materials are required to be covered, water misted, or sprayed with non-hazardous suppression agent in the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC).

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, What's up with the "mountain of soil" on Block 1129? A dust hazard and a violation of environmental protocols, apparently

Atlantic Yards Watch offers another disturbing dispatch, Mountain of soil grows on block 1129, creating dust hazard and violating environmental protocols:

A 2 1/2 story tall mound of soil, described as backfill in the last two construction alerts (January 30 and February 13), has been uncovered on an ongoing basis since it was first created over two weeks ago. The mound is located in the staging area on block 1129 and continues to grow. The mound has a base of about 150 by 100 feet. The photo above on the left is the view from Vanderbilt Avenue toward the west. The photo to the right is the view south from the third story of a residential building on Dean Street.

...

I'll check with Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of Atlantic Yards, to see if they have a comment.

Posted by steve at 10:55 PM

Arena facade work, as predicted, resumes on east side of structure

Atlantic Yards Report

A week ago, on 2/11/12, I wrote how there's a new schedule to install the pre-weathered lattice panels for the Barclays Center exterior, necessitated by the temporary shutdown of contractor ASI Limited.

And on 2/13/12 I noted that, according to the latest Construction Alert, façade panels at the uppermost elevation would be installed during "this reporting period and taking place on second shift."

Indeed, that's what's happened, according to photos and videos taken yesterday looking west at the arena from Pacific Street. The work is taking place on the east side of the structure, along Sixth Avenue between Atlantic Avenue at the north and Pacific Street (halfway down) at the south, extending all the way to Dean Street, the southern border.

link

Posted by steve at 10:52 PM

Metals in Construction, 2012 Facades Conference

A Daily Dose of Architecture

The high-minded architects of ShoP are proud to be tools of developer Bruce Ratner's.

After a schmooze break came Jonathan Mallie (below), principal at SHoP Architects and SHoP Construction. He presented three projects -- Botswana Innovation Hub, Barclays Center, B2 @ Atlantic Yards -- with the largest chunk of time focusing on Barclays, the stadium now under construction as part of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. It is wrapped by a skin of glass and weathering steel, which is being installed in "mega panels" that require lots and lots of help from software like Rhino, Grasshopper, and even a custom iPhone app to track construction progress. SHoP's presence at the conference must have been mandatory, since as architects they are trailblazers in exploiting collaboration in regards to digital fabrication. They are taking their accumulated knowledge and skill even higher with the modular prefab high rise of B2, but I'm not sure the architectural appeal of the carefully stacked boxes is as high as the skillfully covered stadium below.

NoLandGrab: Not mentioned was how the facade of community benefits used to justify eminent domain and governments subsidies continues to slide off of the Atlantic Yards project.

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Posted by steve at 10:43 PM

February 16, 2012

Brooklyn Basketball Arena Nears Final Buzzer

Engineering News Record

A major design goal was to integrate the facility into the local bustle. It includes exterior views into the seating bowl, says Stephen Duethman, Midwest region managing principal for lead architect AECOM. "The whole dynamic of the interior is based on the industrial and nightlife theme, the feeling of the streets of Brooklyn," he adds.

That transparency was a feature of the original design, though little else of that eclectic vision remains other than Gehry's master plan for the Atlantic Yards. "The building had to be transparent and activate the street—not just a big blank wall," Sanna says.

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NoLandGrab: That view from the street into the arena is the only thing that's been transparent about the Atlantic Yards project. Case in point — the article's faulty parroting of this classic Forest City fallacy: "Opponents filed 37 lawsuits, none of which the developer has lost."

Related content...

News 12, via NBA.com, Barclays Center

Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

February 15, 2012

Construction Noise Still Giving Residents Near Barclays Center a Headache

Loud construction noises and lights from Con Ed electrical work, as well as the rebuilding of the Carlton Ave. Bridge, have been keeping residents up at night.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Construction in and around the Barclays Center arena has still been keeping neighbors up all night, says the Daily News.

The News says that residents around Fifth Avenue and Dean Street in Park Slope have heard Con Ed workers installing an electrical conduit at the arena until as late as 6 a.m., and about an hour later, construction on the arena itself begins.

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NoLandGrab: What a bunch of whiners. Brett Yormark gets by on one hour of sleep a night — why can't they?

Posted by eric at 4:00 PM

Contractor, Ohio bank assume control of ASI

Zionsville Times-Sentinel
by Rod Ross

Operations of ASI Ltd. in Whitestown have been taken over by Hunt Construction and Ohio Farmers Bank, so that construction of a $4.9 billion sports arena and residential complex in Brooklyn, N.Y., will continue.

Financial issues that may have led to ASI’s brief closure have been resolved, but ASI faces at least one lawsuit in Boone County, and more could follow.
...

“I gather that ASI had a financial issue,” said Joseph DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner Companies, developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, that will include a new arena for the New Jersey Nets, and several 16-story apartment buildings.

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Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

February 14, 2012

Nets arena construction at Atlantic Yards causes sleepless nights in Prospect Heights

All night jackhammering driving Dean St. residents crazy

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin

Just like a good hellish neighbor, Bruce Ratner is there — nearly 24/7.

The Atlantic Yards project is causing a lot of sleepless nights for Prospect Heights neighbors.

All night jackhammering for utility work to prepare for the new Nets arena - expected to open in September- has residents on Dean St. near 5th Ave. ready to crack, they said.

And on the other side of the project site, the state last week authorized developer Bruce Ratner to work until 3 a.m. on rebuilding the Carlton Ave. Bridge, which he is scrambling to get done in time for the arena opening.

“It’s horrible,” said Gary Wiebke, 52, who lives on Dean St. “The noise levels are astounding. Our building shimmies, it shakes.”

Residents said the work on the electrical upgrades goes on until 6 a.m. - and about an hour later, construction work on the arena starts. They say it’s the latest in a series of arena-related infrastructure projects that have driven them up the wall. Wiebke said a tenant who rented the apartment across the hall from him moved out after less than a week because he couldn’t take it.

“I'm getting physically ill as a result of not sleeping,” said Alan Sondheim, 69. “The noise really got seriously intolerable.”
...

Over at the Vanderbilt Railyards, Ratner spokesman Joe Deplasco said the late-night work is “required to complete the rail yard work and north half of the bridge.”

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NoLandGrab: Maybe if they hadn't spent two years not working on the bridge after they tore it down in 2008, they wouldn't be working round the clock now. "F**k the bridge?" More like f**k the residents.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report,

Now that Forest City Ratner is on an accelerated schedule to finish the Carlton Avenue Bridge by September, flood lights at the Vanderbilt Yard are on til 3 am:

Wayne Bailey, 57, who lives across from the yard, said as bad as the noise are the blinding flood lights that make it bright enough to read a book at midnight. “It is so extreme, it’s so glaring, it’s such light pollution that kids can’t go to sleep,” he said.

“This is a circumstance they created for themselves," said Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association. They shouldn’t be let off the hook.”

But they can be, unless there's effective oversight.

Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

Crain's: DOB Commissioner LiMandri touting FCR's modular plan

Atlantic Yards Report

Last November New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri was endorsing modular construction, saying, "you also have to figure out how to build bigger, and better, and modular."

And, according to today's Crain's Insider [subscription required], Modular Construction’s Savings, he's still saying that, with specific reference to Atlantic Yards:

If Forest City Ratner succeeds in its effort to build modular housing for Atlantic Yards off-site, the work could probably be done more efficiently, but the greatest savings would come from wages. Off-site workers cost union builders $36 an hour versus $90 for on-site labor. Total project savings might be about 20%. Just one local firm, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, constructs housing units off-site but only for low-scale buildings, and adds the façade in the field. Forest City plans to do high-rises, including façades, in factories. Its unions’ approval is needed. City Buildings Commissioner Bob LiMandri has been touting the proposal around town. Supporters say it would reduce truck traffic, debris and noise at construction sites as well as improve work quality.

The flip side? Not only would Atlantic Yards workers earn much less (definitely), and they would be fewer in number (probably), but also the projected tax revenues generated by the project would decline.

link

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

February 13, 2012

From the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert: work til 3 am weekedays, trench dug this weekend at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated 2/13/12, was distributed today--rather than, as is typical, a day late--by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

The big news was already announced 2/9/12 in a Supplemental Alert, indicating work til 3 am weekdays through September to ensure the reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

Also, a trench will be dug at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Streets, with associated sheeting, for stormwater discharge work February 17-20, Friday through Sunday. "Traffic will be limited until it is plated," according to the alert, which does not specify how long that would go.

Missing transparency

In an oddity, the alert states that "transformers are scheduled to be delivered to the arena site on 02/11/12," which was presumably already accomplished.

It also states that the "emergency generator was delivered to the arena site 02/02/12," which happened in the last reporting period but had not been announced in the previous alert.

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Posted by eric at 10:30 PM

February 12, 2012

Atlantic Yards Watch gets results: signs nailed to trees are removed

Atlantic Yards Report

A day after Atlantic Yards Watch reported that there were temporary "No Parking" signs nailed to trees on Pacific Street, they were removed.

link

NoLandGrab: Please tell us they removed the signs and not, per their usual m.o., the trees.

Posted by eric at 11:25 PM

February 11, 2012

New schedule issued for fabrication and installation of weathered steel exterior panels, but it's unclear how much it's delayed

Atlantic Yards Report

While Forest City Ratner official has acknowledged a delay, due to a temporary shutdown of the fabricator, in the delivery of pre-weathered steel panels for the Barclays Center exterior, you don't quite get that from the 2/6/12 Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

The report, excerpted at right, indicates that Merritt & Harris was told on 1/5/12 that ASI Limited, the Indiana firm "fabricating the curtain wall and pre-weathering the lattice panels," had shut down.

Because the insurer took possession of all inventory, equipment, and materials," the plant reopened on 1/7/12, with 80% of the workers.

However, the plant shutdown was actually around 12/22/11, according to a class-action lawsuit filed by workers who seek unpaid wages and benefits.

There's a new schedule, as indicated in the screenshot at right, which establishes 5/30/12 as the date for final assemblage of such panels, and 7/15/12 as the date for the final installation of such panels.

What was the old schedule? Unclear.

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Posted by steve at 5:51 PM

February 10, 2012

Rush to Finish Carlton Avenue Bridge Will Include Floodlights ’Til 3 A.M.

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

Repair work on a crucial bridge next to the Barclays Center may continue until 3 a.m. every weeknight between now and September in a mad rush to finish before the first event at the 19,000-seat arena.

The Empire State Development Corporation quietly revealed that workers would add a second shift so that the Carlton Avenue Bridge — a key route between Fort Greene and Prospect Heights that has been closed since January, 2008 — can be finished on schedule.

The work will likely bother neighbors, the agency revealed.

link

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, More Delays at Atlantic Yards

The biggest news to those who have to try to navigate the giant construction project is that the Carlton Avenue bridge reopening has been delayed by a month, and in order to meet the new completion date of September 2012 work crews will be at it until 3 am.

Posted by eric at 8:38 PM

Exclusive: the Carlton Avenue Bridge is delayed one month, setting up breakneck pace to achieve completion before arena opens; officials have not acknowledged delays

Atlantic Yards Report

Though neither Forest City Ratner nor city/state officials have said so, the reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, a crucial connector between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, is lagging a month behind schedule, state documents confirm.

The delay has sparked a breakneck construction pace to meet the new completion date of late September 2012, just before the first official Barclays Center event, a sure-to-be-sold-out Jay-Z concert on 9/28/12.

Just yesterday, Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of the project, announced that work to finish the bridge could go as late as 3 am on weekdays through September.

That means that painfully bright (to some) floodlights will illuminate the Vanderbilt Yard until 3 am--and, as experience has shown, likely even longer. And if the bridge doesn't get done in time, nearby streets would face confusion and chaos on event days, at least initially.

(February 2010 photo by Tracy Collins)

Key connection

The bridge, closed since January 2008 to enable renovation work in the below-ground Long Island Rail Road's Vanderbilt Yard, not only offers a key artery, it borders the planned surface parking lot, a magnet for up to 1100 vehicles.

The $40 million bridge reconstruction is an Arena Opening Condition, a requirement in a document Forest City signed with Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project.

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NoLandGrab: And if you think failure to meet that "Arena Opening Condition" will actually keep the arena from opening, we've got another bridge to sell you.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Railyard construction extended to 3:00 AM weekdays

Construction work hours in NYC normally are allowed 7 AM to 6 PM weekdays. Recently work in the railyard has been extended to begin at 6 AM and end at 11 PM weekdays, and from 7 AM to 11 PM Saturdays. Arena work hours have been extended as well.

Complaints about the use of lights have occurred with some regularity on Atlantic Yards Watch recently. The lights were originally not to be used for construction. According to the Project Director the contract between FCRC and LIRR was to be revised to enable the contractor to use the lights for construction, not just operation and repair as originally intended. The supplemental alert warns the lights may now be used until 3:00 AM.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Barclays Center completion date pushed back a week, but arena "is slightly ahead of schedule." How so? They changed the schedule to erase delays.

Atlantic Yards Report

Before you drop $1.65 million on your three-year commitment to "The Vault," you might want to make sure the arena's actually built.

Delays are taking their toll on Barclays Center construction, pointing to a hectic--and perhaps nerve-wracking--pace to the finish line.

Not only is the Carlton Avenue Bridge delayed, the substantial completion date for the arena has been nudged back one week for the second time in five weeks, to 9/5/12. That gives arena operators little more than three weeks to test building systems before the first event, a 9/28/12 concert with superstar Jay-Z.

Also, after a report in January indicated that the Barclays Center was behind schedule, a new report from the same construction monitor asserts that the arena is "slightly ahead of schedule," based on actual cash flow versus projected cash flow.

(The final completion date is 6/30/13, which indicates additional work will have to be done while the building is operating.)

Presto: the arena's ahead

That happy conclusion, however depends on changing the schedule, a slight-of-pen unacknowledged in the latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

article

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

February 9, 2012

Construction hours extended to 3 am to get Carlton Avenue Bridge done; flood lights will be on

Atlantic Yards Report

Apparently, Forest City Ratner is feeling the time pressure, as it plans work at Vanderbilt Yard as late as 3 am on weekdays to get the Carlton Avenue Bridge done, and will keep the lights on.

According to a Supplemental Report to the biweekly Construction Update issued today by Empire State Development (after preparation by Forest City):

Commencing on Thursday, February 9th, Yard construction hours have the potential to extend until 3:00 AM Monday through Friday. These extended hours will remain in place through the completion of the Carlton Avenue Bridge replacement, as needed. Additionally, to facilitate early start and late finish of work, Yard Flood Lights will be turned on at 6am and from dusk to 3:00 am, during double shifts through the completion of the Carlton Avenue Bridge replacement, as needed.

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NoLandGrab: Wait, we must've missed something. Didn't Forest City Ratner tell everyone early in 2008, when the bridge was closed, that a new bridge would be ready in two years? And didn't ESDC reassure everybody in December 2008 that there were "no changes in the schedule at this time." Guess they really did f**k the bridge. Not to mention the people of Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 6:27 PM

Workers file suit against arena facade fabricator ASI Limited based on failure to warn of (temporary) shutdown

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, the Indiana firm ASI Limited may be back at work fabricating the exterior panels for the Barclays Center, thanks to the firm's insurer stepping in, but it still may have to pay for its abrupt shutdown on or around 12/22/11.

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Indiana, employee Andrew Shepherd, on behalf of himself and those similarly situated, have sued ASI Limited for collection of unpaid wages and benefits for the 60 days required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) of 1988.

Firm of a certain size are required to provide at least 60 days’ advance written notice of termination.

According to the lawsuit, about 200 employees were abruptly laid off, and those employees were denied not only wages but holiday pay and health and other benefits.

There's been no response yet in court to the suit, which was filed 2/6/12.

link

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

February 8, 2012

Modular said to be Forest City's "iPhone moment;" retail rents near arena are booming

Atlantic Yards Report

There was some Atlantic Yards news yesterday at the quarterly real estate roundtable hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Forest City Ratner executive Bob Sanna sees modular technology as "our iPhone moment,” a breakthrough for the industry, the New York Post reported.

But no word yet on when and whether they'll get a plant up and running.

The Real Deal reported huge demand for properties near the arena....

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Posted by eric at 6:26 PM

Sky's the limit on pre-fab towers for Atlantic Yards developer

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

In case you've been wondering, the Steve Jobs of real estate developers is... Bruce Ratner!

There’s a lot more riding on whether developer Bruce Ratner can build the world’s tallest pre-fabricated building than just completing Brooklyn’s long-delayed Atlantic Yards project.

Ratner’s company stands to position itself as the go-to developer for what could become a soaring modular-building industry.

Bob Sanna, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner Cos., said yesterday that the company is willing to “share” such technology and is open to also factory-building “modules” for other developers to build modular towers.

“This is our iPhone moment,” Sanna said during a real estate roundtable hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society.

article

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

In Progress: Barclays Center / SHoP

ArchDaily
by Karen Cilento

We have been keeping close watch on the progress of Barclays Center, SHoP’s 650,000+ stadium for Brooklyn at Atlantic Yards. The project has an interesting history as the client, Bruce Ratner, originally looked to Gehry to design an urban solution and iconic image for the 22 acre site, prior to teaming with Ellerbe Becket and SHoP. As we’ve reported earlier, SHoP’s response has developed to become a sweeping pre-fabricated volume, with a perforated latticework steel skin and a transparent ground level. Photographer Roger Edwards has shared some recent photos with us of the construction process as the building is quickly beginning to take shape.

link

NoLandGrab: Gorgeous!

Photo: Roger Edwards

Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

February 7, 2012

A Sneak Peek Inside Barclays Center: [VIDEO]

A tour of the future home of the Brooklyn Nets yields some surprising elements—both large and small

Bed-Stuy Patch
by Paul Leonard

A tour Friday of the still very active construction site revealed not just the biggest elements of the basketball arena and events center, but also smaller, yet vitally important, details as well.

That list includes ground floor retail with street access to Flatbush Avenue, the first "green roof" proposed for an MTA subway entrance and Ipe wood benches lining the plaza of Barclays Center.

And then there is the colossal: 18,000 seats for basketball games in a "tight bowl" configuration meant to provide a sense of being on top of the action—even in the highest and cheapest rows.
...

But for area motorists, what is perhaps most notable at the enormous construction site is what is not here—namely, a surplus of parking spaces.

With almost 20,000 capacity for events at the arena, Chiarelli confirmed only 1,100 spaces planned for the block bounded by Pacific and Dean streets and Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

That has some residents and elected officials concerned about a flood of cars taking up valuable street parking space in the blocks around Barclays Center.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, residents and electeds are concerned that an 1,100-space parking lot is too BIG, and will draw too much traffic to a quiet residential neighborhood.

Posted by eric at 8:19 AM

February 3, 2012

Forest City doing worse on M/WBE contracting for Atlantic Yards than previously reported: ESD says total is 15.4%, not 22.6%, because some firms aren't certified

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner maintains its perfect record of not making good on an promises!

By the state's measure, developer Forest City Ratner has a much lower M/WBE (Minority and Women's Business Enterprises) utilization figure than previously reported, which suggests it's doing less than previously assumed in reaching out to businesses that truly need a boost.

On January 31, I reported that, according to statistics released by Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, the MBE awards total $91 million (about 16.3% of total purchases), while the WBE awards total $35.1 million (about 6.3% of total purchases).

Thus the combined M/WBE participation is apparently 22.6%, about three-quarters of the way toward the goal of 30% (20% MBE plus 10% WBE), as reflected in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

Revising the numbers

Well, that was true, but I've since learned that the statistics, while released by ESD, were not only prepared by Forest City Ratner--there was no indication on the document--they do not represent the ESD's own analysis of M/WBE figures.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for ESD, explained:

ESD and the Atlantic Yards Project have a certified MWBE utilization contract goal of 20%. Firms must use “best efforts” to meet that goal. If they have not met the goal they must show that they have used their best efforts to retain MWBE firms through outreach and solicitation. ESD has calculated that Forest City has awarded 15.4% to MWBE certified firms to date. ESD does not count the MWBE firms that are not certified. If non-certified firms were included the percentage would increase.

Why wouldn't they be certified? I speculate that either 1) they are/were too fledgling to bother or 2) are too large and prosperous to qualify under the state's newly narrowed rules aimed to exclude M/WBE firms that are very large or led by businesspeople who are so wealthy as to be clearly not disadvantaged.

Whatever the reason, the discrepancy again points out the need for Forest City to not merely self-report but to hire the Independent Compliance Monitor required by the CBA.

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NoLandGrab: It's official! CBA now stands for Completely Bulls**t Artifice.

Posted by eric at 1:56 PM

PHOTOS: Atlantic Yards Becomes the Barclays Center

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Month by month, the Barclays Center has grown.

Now covered with fabric, the looming frame of the Brooklyn Nets's future home is beginning to look more like the building it will eventually become.

link

NoLandGrab: Ironically, the entire project has been swathed in fabrications since the get-go.

Photo: Amy Sara Clark/Patch

Posted by eric at 1:32 PM

February 2, 2012

High-rise housing going modular

This Just In [CNN.com]

This just in? Sure, if by "just in," they mean 11 months ago.

It's an idea that has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry: Use prefabricated modules to build more than 6,000 housing units. If the real estate development firm Forest City Ratner is able to turn the idea into a reality, the firm will build the tallest modular construction building in the world, a 32-story residential tower in Brooklyn, New York.

Click through for more, plus audio, if, like the newshounds at CNN, you missed this story when it broke in March of last year.

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Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

February 1, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: a two-week (at least) closure of the Flatbush Avenue sidewalk west of Dean

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/30/12, was distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

There's not much dramatic in the alert, just indications of expected progress in various aspects of the project. Most notable to neighbors, perhaps, is this:

An 80’ section of the northern Flatbush Ave. sidewalk west of Dean St. will remain closed during this reporting period while façade installation is underway. This closure is due to agreement between NYCDOB [Department of Buildings] and Hunt [Construction].

Late-shift work

As in the previous alert, there will be double-shift and weekend work at the Long Island Rail Road/Vanderbilt Yard/ Carlton Avenue Bridge:

  • All weekdays all locations in the yard: 6:00AM to 11:00PM
  • Saturdays as required: 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Sundays and Holidays as required: 8:00AM to 11:00PM

And there may be late shift and overnight shift work at the arena site:

Subject to receipt of permits, a second shift shall be continued throughout this reporting period, from 3 – 11 PM, Monday-Friday only. Also subject to receipt of permits, a third shift may be instituted during this reporting period, from 11 PM – 7 AM, Monday–Friday only.

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Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

Did an "emergency situation" really preclude alerting neighbors to overnight work last Saturday? Permit for crane was issued 11 days in advance

Atlantic Yard Report

Let's take another look at the explanation given for the disruptive overnight work beginning last Saturday at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, Empire State Development, stated:

The work that was occurring this weekend was being done by the LIRR and had nothing to do with Atlantic Yards. The LIRR is typically very good at notifying us of work that they need to do after hours so that we can inform the community, especially when it relates to Atlantic Yards. But apparently there was an emergency situation in the yard this weekend and they had to get in there very quickly.

Well, maybe it had "nothing to do with Atlantic Yards," but, given that reconfiguration of the LIRR's Vanderbilt Yard is part of the project, it seems like there's some connection, even if not formally part of the Forest City Ratner-led work.

"Emergency situation"?

It's even more doubtful there was an "emergency situation." After all, it's hard to get cranes on short notice.

And, it turns out, the (almost surely) related Department of Transportation permits were issued January 17, eleven days earlier. The permits were for work on Atlantic between Sixth Avenue and the block immediately to the east, South Oxford Street,beginning Saturday, January 28.

Three sequential permits, listed below, were issued the same day.

Given that the announced purpose purpose was "Mobile Crane to Lift Electrical Equipment," and that's what happened, I trust that the permits applied to the work indicated in the photo above. I've asked Hankin for any further explanation, and will update this post if I learn more.

link

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

January 31, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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Related coverage...

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

January 30, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

Uh, normally used as a bus stop.

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

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

Posted by eric at 3:20 PM

January 27, 2012

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

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

Park Slope Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

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

No Left Turn for S. Oxford

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

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

No Resident Veto Power on Traffic Plans:

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 11:39 AM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

Carlton Avenue Bridge

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

January 25, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

Eeew.

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

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

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

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NoLandGrab: Classy, like everything else about this project.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

January 19, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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Posted by eric at 5:53 PM

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by eric at 5:02 PM

Atlantic Yards: Can prefab be fabulous?

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

The Real Deal
by James Gardner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 4:52 PM

January 18, 2012

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

Atlantic Yards Report

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

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

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

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Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

January 13, 2012

Nets top off – quietly

NorthJersey.com
by John Brennan

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

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

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

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

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Related coverage...

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

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

Brennan points to a cautionary tale across the river:

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

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

Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

Barclays Center Holds 'Topping Out' Ceremony

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

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

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

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

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

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

"Just one of the boys" photo: Nets Basketball

Posted by eric at 12:15 AM

January 10, 2012

After vandalism of street sign, a replacement installed, but no concrete response by NYPD and FCR; ESD would like FCR to put in place new measures

Atlantic Yards Report

Fear not — Atlantic Yards maintains its perfect record of zero accountability.

So, after a driver and construction worker--quite likely working at Atlantic Yards, but that's not confirmed--uprooted a "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues on January 6, what's the aftermath?

No concrete action--other than the installation of a replacement sign, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch--and a lot of questions.

First, the New York Police Department, which presumably had the driver's license number, has not issued a statement, and I have not received a response to an inquiry posed yesterday afternoon.

State and FCR response

Are there any measures Empire State Development (ESD) can or will take regarding this, I asked Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for ESD, the state agency overseeing the project.

"ESD does not condone this behavior and will request that FCR [Forest City Ratner] take disciplinary action with this particular worker and put in place measures to prevent it from happening again," Hankin responded.

FCR, however, is not there yet, perhaps because the identity of the worker and his association with the project has not been publicly confirmed. Spokesman Joe DePlasco said that "our response to that was that the information and video should be shared with the police."

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Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

Barclays Center steel back in the bag

After shutting its doors last month, the company making the weathered steel panels that will sheath Brooklyn's Barclays Center again fires up the production line.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

Fabrication of the weathered steel for the façade of the Barclays Center resumed over the weekend after being halted since late December when the company doing the work shut its doors, according to a spokesman for the arena's developer, Forest City Ratner Cos.

Indiana-based ASI Limited reopened after the arena's contractor, Hunt Construction Group, worked with insurer Ohio Farmers to get the plant working again.

“We are very pleased with how Hunt responded to this situation,” said the Forest City spokesman. “Thanks to their aggressive actions, work has resumed, and we're all the more confident that we will meet our milestones for the arena.”

He added that Hunt is looking for additional companies to make the steel for the 675,000-square-foot arena that will be home to the Brooklyn Nets. Slated to open this fall, in time for the start of the basketball season, the arena is the first building to rise in the vast $4.9 billion, 14-apartment-tower Atlantic Yards project.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Crain's: ASI Limited resumes making steel panels for arena facade, but contractor's still looking for backup

Norman Oder wonders why, if everything's fine, Hunt is looking for additional fabricators.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Company Supplying Barclays Center Out of Business

Meanwhile, nothing slips by The Eagle.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

200-Storey Prefab For 100,000 People Can Be Built in 2 Months

Is This for Real?

TreeHugger
by Lloyd Alter

Over the years I have been shown a few wild proposals for giant prefabs and new building systems, and most of the time I have been pretty dubious. There have always been a couple of fundamental problems that got in the way, particularly with modular schemes where entire units are supposed to be plugged into frames.

Recently I questioned a big prefab project at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, thinking it was too much, too fast, and too cheap considering it was a technology that had never been used to build so high.

But these projects don't come close to what Broad Sustainable Buildings is planning: A 200-storey vertical city that will house 100,000 people. While it isn't scheduled for construction yet, the company appears to be pitching it around the world.

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NoLandGrab: If it sounds too good to be true... Bruce Ratner might steal all your senior employees!

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

January 9, 2012

Atlantic Yards Worker Reprimanded for ‘Amen’ Corner

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Minty Grover

A construction worker at the Atlantic Yards project was reprimanded by his bosses last month, fellow employees said, after he painted a seemingly non-controversial bit of Yuletide graffiti on an under-construction kiosk — the word “Amen” in big red block letters.

The holiday greeting — truncated because the worker didn’t have enough paint to write “Merry Christmas,” one worker said — wasn’t visible from the streets around the rising Barclays Center basketball arena, but it was clear to see from the top floor of the neighboring Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls as well as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower across the street.

The extent of the reprimand remains unclear, but the worker was not fired, said construction workers, who wouldn't give their names out of fear of reprisal. The religious graffiti has since been partially covered up with concrete as part of the contruction of the subway entrance at the front of the arena at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

A spokesman for Bruce Ratner, whose Forest City Ratner Companies is building the arena as part of its larger Atlantic Yards development, said that the reprimand was deserved.

“It is inappropriate to write anything that is not authorized on a construction site,” said the spokesman, Joe DePlasco.

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NoLandGrab: In the overall scheme of things, it seems much less worse than the usual Atlantic Yards construction worker behavior.

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

January 6, 2012

Caught red-handed on video: Atlantic Yards construction worker uproots newly installed "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

Ok, city and state officials overseeing Atlantic Yards, get a load of this.

There's a No Standing sign on the south side of Pacific Street, between Sixth and Carlton avenues, that doesn't sit well with construction workers looking for convenient parking at the nearby Barclays Center and railyard sites.

They apparently uprooted one sign in mid-December. A week later, its replacement was again uprooted (photo at [right] from Atlantic Yards Watch).

But documentary evidence compiled this morning shows exactly how it's done. Late yesterday afternoon, AY Watch contributor 700PacificW commented on the newly installed sign (photo at right):

Newly installed MTP "red no standing" sign could be destroyed within 1 day of installation again.

That prediction was quite accurate.

This morning's vandalism

As shown in the video posted below, at about 6:15 am today, a construction worker--as noted wearing a hardhat in a photo posted to AY Watch--parked next to the sign.

(Is he definitely working at the Atlantic Yards site? I can't be absolutely certain, but this is where AY site workers seek to park, and hundreds of others workers seen on that block work at the site. A witness saw this worker walking toward the arena site.)

He got out. At 1:10 of the video, he began rocking the sign with his hands, ultimately dislodging it.

At 3:16 of the video, he began moving the sign to the north side of Pacific Street near the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, as shown in the screen shot at left.

And now he has free parking.

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Related coverage...

In tearing down the sign the worker creates 4 or 5 illegal spaces used by Barclays Center construction workers on a regular basis.

Streetsblog, How to Make Your Own Free Parking Near the Atlantic Yards Site

...here’s a variety of parking scofflaw that we’ve never come across before on Streetsblog.
...

And you thought placards were the ultimate in free parking entitlement.

Prospect Heights Patch, Video Catches Driver Pulling Down 'No Standing' Sign Across From Atlantic Yards

The videographer caught the man's SUV's license plate number, and we're waiting to hear back from the police about whether they are trying to track him down.

Posted by eric at 1:02 PM

Report Reveals Barclays Center Slightly Behind Schedule

Between September and November, Atlantic Yards construction was behind schedule, and now the completion of the arena has been pushed back a week, to Aug 30.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

While Forest City Ratner doesn’t believe that their steelmaker going out of business will affect the construction time of the Barclays Center, new data shows that construction has been behind schedule for three months, according to Atlantic Yards Report.

AYR says that the completion date of the arena has now been pushed back a week, to August 30, 2012, with site work like landscaping, tree planting and sidewalk installation pushed back a month to September 25, 2012. The blog says that’s just three days before Jay-Z is scheduled to perform an opening night show at the arena.

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Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

Forest City avoids the question of how they'll get that exterior steel; local officials in Indiana still baffled by firm's closing

Atlantic Yards Report

So Forest City Ratner yesterday told Crain's New York Business, regarding the closure of steel fabricator ASI Limited, "we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule."

And they told Patch that they don't believe it "will aversely affect the timeline."

Well, that's possible, since the exterior was supposed to be finished by May and presumably there's some flex in the timeline--as long as ASI Limited reopens or (with more difficulty) a new supplier of such custom work can be found.

But that doesn't sound yet like a plan to get that work done. So, until Forest City offers specifics, they don't sound too convincing.
...

Surely Forest City Ratner and its allies could muster [new capital for ASI] up in a pinch; a delay in the arena opening threatens an enormous amount of contracted revenue, such as for sponsorships and naming rights.

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NoLandGrab: It would be a delicious irony if ASI were able to force Forest City to inject some funds into the company, given the latter's penchant for such hardball tactics as threatening to stop construction of "New York by Gehry" at half its planned height in order to gain union concessions.

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

FCR's Gilmartin tells Crain's that shutdown of facade fabricator will not cause delays. How will the other steel plates be delivered? They're not saying.

Atlantic Yards Report

The ever-penetrating Crain's New York Business gets Forest City Ratner on the phone to say that, never mind, nothing's wrong. In Barclays Center developer says show will go on, Crain's reports:

The developer of the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn says that the year-end demise of the company that is fabricating the weathered steel for the arena's distinctive façade will not result in any construction delays. ...“We are concerned when any of our partners has problems, but we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, referring to steel fabricator ASI Limited having gone out of business. “We can still continue with construction.”

Of course they can still continue with construction. The question is where they get the specially fabricated, pre-weathered steel. It's not an off-the-shelf product. Crain's continues:

Ms. Gilmartin said that a large portion of the weathered steel had already been erected. She couldn't immediately say how much still needed to go up. She added that Forest City is working to insure the steel will continue to be made and to be delivered to the site in a timely fashion, but declined to offer details.

That's plenty vague; they won't say how much work is left, and they won't say how they'll get the steel. Of course it's possible that ASI Limited will reopen, which is likely the best-case scenario, and all will work out. But it's also possible that the construction schedule, which has already slipped, as I reported this morning, could slip more.

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Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

Barclays Center developer says show will go on

Despite the recent demise of the company fabricating the weathered-steel skin for the new home of Brooklyn Nets basketball team, the opening is still set for later this year.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

The developer of the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn says that the year-end demise of the company that is fabricating the weathered steel for the arena's distinctive façade will not result in any construction delays.
...

“We are concerned when any of our partners has problems, but we don't believe it will affect our construction schedule,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, referring to steel fabricator ASI Limited having gone out of business. “We can still continue with construction.”

In a statement, a spokesman for Forest City said the site's construction manager, Hunt, and the bonding company for ASI have developed an action plan. They have already started work on site and have developed several options for on-going fabrication. It didn't specify the options.

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Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Barclays Center Will 'Open as Scheduled' Despite Steel Snafu: Ratner

According to Atlantic Yards Report, which first broke the story on Tuesday, ASI's apparent demise raised questions as to whether the remaining specialty steel would be delivered and how this might affect Barclays Center's tight construction timeline.

When contacted Thursday, Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco dismissed those concerns, saying, "We do not think [ASI's closure] will aversely affect the timeline, and the arena is still planned to open as scheduled."

Curbed, It May Be Naked, But Barclays Will Take Stage

Not even the possibility of a calamitous costume snafu will prevent the new Barclays Center arena in Prospect Heights from making its scheduled debut at the start of the 2012-13 NBA season. Or so says Forest City Ratner, after subcontractor ASI Limited shut its doors and went out of businesses in late December.
...

Forest City Ratner says that it has developed several ongoing but unspecified alternatives for the fabrication of the necessary steel panels.

NoLandGrab: We've already suggested this alternative, but we'll repeat it in case MaryAnne Gilmartin missed it the first time around.

Posted by eric at 11:58 AM

January 5, 2012

New report: for three months, arena has been (slightly) behind schedule; completion date for arena nudged back; site work could continue almost to Jay-Z concert date

Atlantic Yards Report

Delays are taking their toll on Atlantic Yards construction, with new data from November indicating--for the first time--that the arena is now behind, and had been slightly behind for three months.

Apparently as a consequence, the substantial completion date of the arena has been pushed back a week to 8/30/12, and the substantial completion date of site work (landscaping, trees, sidewalks, bollards, etc.) pushed back a month to 9/25/12, just three days before Jay-Z is supposed to inaugurate the Barclays Center.

The information comes from the latest Site Observation Report, based on a visit of 11/22/11 and documents made available on 12/20/11, from Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

Cause for worry?

The report, dated 1/4/12, indicates that work seems to be proceeding appropriately. Confoundingly, it does not acknowledge in its text that the arena is behind, as a chart indicates.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Big jump in workers at Atlantic Yards site reported by real estate consultant, but 645 still doesn't match 779 reported by Forest City

As of November, there were 645 workers at the Atlantic Yards arena site and Transit Connection, according latest Site Observation Report, based on a visit of 11/22/11 and documents made available on 12/20/11, from Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

FCR's numbers

In mid-November, Forest City Ratner told the New York Daily News and Patch that there were 779 workers on site as of November 11.

Why the discrepancy? There surely are dozens of additional workers at the railyard--not covered by Merritt & Harris. But 134? That seems questionable, given observations by site neighbors.

Posted by eric at 12:38 PM

Carlton Avenue/Pacific Street signal light knocked down for at least the third time

Atlantic Yards Watch

 

For at least the third time since construction began on Barclays Center, a signal light at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street has been knocked down. The photo above left is from last week. To the right is a photo of the signal light damaged (but not knocked down) in July. At the bottom of the story is a sequence showing an Atlantic Yards construction delivery truck in July working its way around the corner with the assistance of flaggers.

The signal light is a victim of trucks using Carlton Avenue to enter Pacific Street instead of at Vanderbilt Avenue as is described in the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Regulations. Carlton Avenue is not a designated truck route, but Atlantic Yards construction trucks often use it. The intersection at Pacific Street is too narrow to provide an adequate turning radius for many longer-length trucks, putting the signal at risk.

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Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

January 4, 2012

From the latest Construction Alert: some milestones nudged back; possibility for Atlantic Avenue median work to be done during the day, rather than at night

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 1/2/12, was distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

As I noted yesterday, there was no mention of the shutdown of the arena facade contractor, or any prediction of how that might affect facade work.

While there's continued progress in several areas, there are some issues to point out:

  • work on raised medians along Atlantic Avenue may be performed during daylight hours, as opposed to previous plans to do so only at night (other night work has been noisy)
  • completion of bollard placement has been nudged back from December to January
  • some railyard drilling work has been nudged back a month
  • some water main work has been nudged back a few weeks
  • one Flatbush Avenue sidewalk may be temporarily impassible

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Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

Prokhorov and Ratner Preparing to Move Semi-pro Team into Naked Arena

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

One has to wonder, what exactly are Bruce Ratner and Mikahil Prokhorov planning on bringing to Brooklyn. A team that can hardly call itself professional and a naked arena?

The New Jersey Nets, once again, are stinking up the joint and the Barclays Center arena is in jeopardy of being facadeless come projected completion in September 2012 now that the custom manufacterer of the rusty panels has gone belly up.
...

Will the arena in Brooklyn be ready when the semi-pro Nets are ready to move? That is now a question worthy of a "no comment" from Forest City Ratner.

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Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Barclays Center Facade Maker Goes Out of Business

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

January 3, 2012

Company fabricating metal arena facade shuts down; work was supposed to extend through May; no comment from Forest City at this time

Atlantic Yards Report

Trouble in Ratnerville? The company that makes the façade panels for The World's Most Infamously Ugly Arena™ has suddenly gone all Nets on us belly-up.

The Whitestown, IN-based company that has been fabricating the weathered steel for the Barclays Center facade unexpectedly went out of business last week, raising questions about whether and when the additional steel needed would be delivered, and how the overall project timetable may be affected.

It's unclear how much of the steel has been fabricated and delivered by ASI Limited, but a considerable amount of facade work remains to be done. Some steel has been delivered to and is stored at the southeast block, Block 1129, as shown in the photo above, taken today by Tracy Collins.

A spokesman for developer Forest City Ratner said "we cannot comment at this time." The Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, said it was a question for Forest City.

ESD at 5:30 pm today issued a two-week Construction Alert (prepared by Forest City) covering work beginning this week; it indicates continued work on the facade, and does not disclose anything about the facade fabricator.

Work extending through May

The Exterior Skin--which likely includes more than the metalwork--is not supposed to be completed until the "Early Finish" date of 5/13/12, according to a report from Merritt & Harris, construction monitor for the arena bond trustee.

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NoLandGrab: Not to worry — we got a lead on some replacement parts.

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Tip-Off Tip Over? Barclays Center Facade Maker Goes Out of Business, Possibly Imperiling Opening Day

Replicating the process elsewhere could present a challenge, especially considering the weathering process was already running behind schedule, according to Mr. Oder. Add in the fact that the arena was scheduled to open in only a matter of months, and solving this problem seems as challenging as the Nets making the playoffs.

NLG: Add in to that fact the fact that the Nets are truly awful, and nobody's going to much care if the arena ever opens.

Posted by eric at 10:54 PM

January 2, 2012

Best of '11: World's Tallest Prefab Building Proposed

Construction Digital

This "best of" list includes yet another example of how the best things about Atlantic Yards (affordable housing, public open space, etc.) are those that have been proposed, but never accomplished.

Prefab buildings are making a comeback in a big way – and in Atlantic Yards, a really big way.

A proposed residential complex towering 32 stories would be the world’s tallest prefab structure in the world upon its completion in 2013. Designed by SHoP and engineered by Arup, the towers would surround the planned site for the new Barclays Center.

Prefab has long been avoided for projects over a few stories because of a lack of cross-bracing supports that allow towers to sustain the high winds and increased loads of vertical building. Designers hope to overcome these limitations with more than 900 steel chassis modules mounted on a system of steel frames, with all the connections on the exterior of the structures.

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Posted by steve at 3:39 PM

December 30, 2011

A traffic light down at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street; trucks regularly ignore the staging area and use Carlton improperly

Atlantic Yards Report

As if saying goodbye to 2011, Atlantic Yards Watch reports that the traffic light on the southwest corner of Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street was knocked down December 28, apparently by one of the several trucks that ignore the Pacific Street staging area and improperly use Carlton Avenue, then make a left.

link

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

December 26, 2011

Building New York: Biggest Real Estate News in 2011

International Business Times
by Roland Li

Here are five of the biggest developments of 2011 and an outlook for the future:
...

5. Bold visions for the future

It's one thing to be bullish on New York -- and another to reinvent the skyline.

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels' pyramidal design for the Durst Organization on West 57th Street was one of the most innovative visions for New York, but hardly alone for its boldness. (The project is undergoing land use review.) A Columbia University proposal considered using landfill to create new ground between Lower Manhattan and Governors Island, dubbing the hypothetical neighborhood LoLo. Forest City Ratner is using prefabricated material for its controversial Atlantic Yards project in Downtown Brooklyn -- potentially changing the way buildings are built in the city.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, Forest City Ratner is saying that it might use prefabricated material for buildings it may never have the means to build. More like "bold hallucinations for the future."

Posted by eric at 9:52 AM

December 21, 2011

WPIX picks up on noisy generator story, gets response from FCR that it won't happen again

Atlantic Yards Report

You'd think that the myriad of incidents reported on Atlantic Yards Watch would be easy pickings for the press, but too many press outlets suffer from AY fatigue, indifference, or a willingness to follow the announced narrative.

But last night WPIX-TV's Monica Morales followed up on the story of noisy generators in the Vanderbilt Yard and got the same response from developer Forest City Ratner that I got from Empire State Development: it won't happen again, because noise-attenuating blankets will be used.

The lingering question: why weren't they used in the first place?

link

Related coverage...

WPIX, Brooklyn Generator Uproar

Atlantic Yards Report, ESD says next time noisy generators near residences will use noise attenuating blankets (but why didn't they do so originally?)

So, was there any response to the Atlantic Yards Watch posting that explained how noisy generators at Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue were annoying neighbors.

I quered Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for Empire State Development, who responded:

The contractor will not be using the generator again in this area in the near future. The generator was placed on the street because there was no space in the yard where the generator could have been placed to do the necessary work on the south abutment of the bridge. If there is a need to use the generator in this area again, the contactor will be required to use noise attenuating blankets.

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Why will railyard floodlights be illuminated at night? Because the policy changed

Atlantic Yards Report

As I wrote yesterday, it seems quite possible that floodlights at the railyard will be illuminated until 11 pm for many months, through next summer.

That leads to scenes (via Atlantic Yards Watch) such as the illumination (at 7 pm) as seen from the Newswalk building on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

The policy regarding the lights has apparently changed, as Peter Krashes notes on Atlantic Yards Watch, in Nighttime use of railyard floodlights may continue until September 2012.
...

A belated Forest City response

About a week after an inquiry via the Community Liaison's voice mail, Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte answered AY Watch, in part:

The lights are required to provide visibility for the workers, and to ensure safe working conditions. To minimize the impact to those adjacent to the yard, the lights are directed downward and into the Yard, and away from residential buildings.

However, as noted by Krashes:

Residents note that while the lights are directed downward, spillage on the sides of the lights is intense and flows directly into nearby residences. No adjustments to the floodlights redirecting their beams away from residential building have been made to compensate for their increased use.

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Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

December 20, 2011

Nighttime use of railyard floodlights may continue until September 2012

Atlantic Yards Watch

And God Bruce Ratner said, Let there be light.

The floodlights in the Vanderbilt Railyard are being used to extend construction work hours to as late as 11:00 PM many days of the week. In the spring of 2010, LIRR told community members the lights would be used infrequently to enable work that could not be executed in the day while the railyard was operating. At that time there was no mention the lights would be used for construction.

The policy for use of the lights has apparently changed. According to ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin, LIRR and the FCRC contractors working on the Carlton Avenue Bridge are negotiating an agreement for the use of the lights that includes extending construction work hours. The rebuilding of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is not a LIRR project, although its completion is dependent on various elements of railyard construction being finished. The lights are planned to be used until reconstruction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge is complete, which must be prior to the time the arena opens in September 2012. It is unclear to what extent the lights will be used when construction in Vanderbilt Railyard continues with the replacement of the permanent railyard. It is anticipated to be complete in 2016.

Although the work currently taking place only involves a small number of workers in limited locations, all of the lights in the yard are turned on. On Tuesday, December 6 the lights were left on until 3:30 AM without notice to the community.

Click through for photos of how the lights obviate the need for nearby residents' interior lighting (thereby lowering electricity costs!) and how reading is easy any time (saving people's eyesight!).

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Posted by eric at 1:22 PM

From Atlantic Yards Watch: Generators at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street disrupt residents

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on yesterday's Atlantic Yards Watch post on noisy generators.

Who wants to live near generators, especially when the decibel level gets stratospheric?
...

So, is "noisier equipment," as per the memorandum, situated "at locations that are removed from sensitive receptor locations and are shielded from sensitive receptor locations wherever feasible," provided with significant noise shielding?

Apparently not:

Although the Memorandum specifies a "minimum 8 foot height perimeter barrier (constructed of 3/4 thick plywood), with a 16 foot hight barrier (of 3/4" thick plywood) adjacent to sensitive locations, including locations along Pacific Street, Dean Street, and Flatbush Avenue opposite residences," there are no barriers of that description installed in this location. The generators are separated from residences by a chain link fence that does not shield noise.

Yesterday, I contacted the state and city officials in charge of Atlantic Yards construction issues, but didn't hear back yet.

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Posted by eric at 12:56 PM

December 19, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: at railyard, weekday double shifts; railyard flood lights on until 11 pm through Carlton Avenue Bridge replacement (next summer!)

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 12/19/11, was distributed today by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

Notable is that railyard work will proceed on double shifts during the weekdays along with Saturdays and selected Sundays, all in the name of "overall schedule maintenance," aka "staying on time." The previous alert indicated extra work only on weekends.

Also, it seems quite possible that floodlights at the railyard will be illuminate until 11 pm for many months, through next summer, as "Yard Flood Lights will be turned on at 6am and from dusk to 11:00 pm, during double shifts through the completion of the Carlton Avenue Bridge replacement, as needed."

The bridge is supposed to be finished before the arena opens in August 2012, though no firm schedule has been announced.

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Posted by eric at 11:20 PM

Generators at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street disrupt residents

Atlantic Yards Watch

Generators adjacent to perimeter fencing across from residences, and the absence of barriers to shield the residences from the noise they generate, appear to violate both the spirit and the letter of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. The generators are apparently being used to facilitate construction of the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

They are situated directly across the street from residences on the north sidewalk of Pacific Street at the location of the Carlton Avenue Bridge. They are in a highly visible location close to the construction offices and along the walking route between the construction offices and the arena construction site.
...

The Memorandum states that contractors will situate "noisier equipment, such as generators, cranes, tractor trailers, concrete pumps, concrete trucks and dump trucks at locations that are removed from sensitive receptor locations and are shielded from sensitive receptor locations wherever feasible." If not feasible, another step contractors should utilize when practicable are "noise curtains and equipment enclosures . . . to provide shielding from significant noise-generating equipment to sensitive receptor locations."

Although the Memorandum specifies a "minimum 8 foot height perimeter barrier (constructed of 3/4 thick plywood), with a 16 foot hight barrier (of 3/4" thick plywood) adjacent to sensitive locations, including locations along Pacific Street, Dean Street, and Flatbush Avenue opposite residences," there are no barriers of that description installed in this location. The generators are separated from residences by a chain link fence that does not shield noise.

article

NoLandGrab: It's possible it's just a test, intended to simulate the noise of a drunken crowd leaving a Nets game.

Posted by eric at 11:08 PM

December 17, 2011

From Atlantic Yards Watch: the swift destruction of a "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

Looks like Lolita Jackson, the city official now responsible (along with Empire State Development) for coordinating response to Atlantic Yards, has her work cut out for her.

Take one of the latest reports on Atlantic Yards Watch, which documents, as of Thursday, December 15, the swift disappearance of a newly-installed "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenues, opposite the Vanderbilt Yard. It lasted less than a day.

It's not clear who's responsible, but it is clear that construction workers seemed rather cavalier about the downed sign. And the absence of the sign surely benefits workers who wish to find scarce parking.

link

Posted by steve at 3:10 PM

December 13, 2011

Barclays Center: Then, Now and In-Between

A photo document of construction at the site from October 2010 to December 2011.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

Patch has a collection of photos "documenting the pace of construction at the Barclays Center site from Oct. 2010 to Dec. 2011."

link

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

How Invested Is Bruce Ratner In Prefab? Oh, Only a Few Million

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Forest City Ratner has spent $3.5 million on research and development for prefab construction, according to The Journal, which dug the number out of its annual report. Since Mr. Ratner began considering prefab apartment towers in 2009, that is more than a million dollars per year. Add to that the lawsuit Forest City helped fight, and this seems like a considerable commitment to this new approach.

This may put to rest claims that the developer was only looking at prefab as a means to break the unions and get a better rate from them on Atlantic Yards. Then again, with 15 towers containing millions of square feet of space, a few million could be but a drop in the bucket if it means bigger labor saving on the future of the site.

article

Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Ratner Still Wants Cheaper Prefab Towers at Atlantic Yards

A five percent savings on the $5 billion project through labor negotiations could mean about $250 million in savings, so even if the developer spends $50 million researching modular construction, Ratner will still be saving money, according to the report.

Posted by eric at 1:21 PM

December 12, 2011

New York Real Estate: Housing of the Future?

The Wall Street Journal
by Eliot Brown

Developer Bruce Ratner is finding out that inventing new building techniques isn't cheap.

His company, Forest City Ratner Cos., spent $3.5 million on "research and development costs" for its plan to build housing towers out of pre-made pods at its $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, according to a filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The effort is a bid to save money by using modular construction throughout the development, which includes 6,400-apartments. Pods would be built off-site and stacked up at the construction site.

The decision to go ahead with the technique is not finalized—the firm is still in talks with unions—and Forest City says it has also designed the project's first residential building using standard construction methods.

The firm also designed much of the project's arena twice, first with architect Frank Gehry before he was jettisoned to save costs.

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NoLandGrab: If by "inventing new building techniques" the Journal means "stealing away the top six employees of a firm actually inventing new building techniques" then, yes, Bruce Ratner is by all means the Thomas Edison of modular construction.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Forest City Ratner spent nearly $3.5 million on research and development costs for its modular housing plan

Well, that's a significant investment, and thus a sign that Ratner is serious about it. Then again, I still think that modular announcement last month was timed, in part, to pressure construction unions, and the first building may not be modular.

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

December 9, 2011

So why were the railyard lights on all night? Because railyard contractors got permission. Why weren't residents given an alert? The state dropped the ball.

Atlantic Yards Report

The state seems to drop the ball a lot when it comes to Atlantic Yards construction oversight.

As documented on Atlantic Yards Watch, high-intensity sodium flood lights were on through the night on Tuesday night, until about 3:25 am, even though the latest Construction Alert said they were supposed to go off at 11 pm. (Before this week, they were supposed to go off at 7 pm.)

What happened? Atlantic Yards Watch observed:

As SOP the ESDC/FCR continues to allow changes to construction work restrictions THEN informs community after the change occurs thus aggravating residents even more by failing to enforce what they publish to whitewash what is actually happening.

And that is exactly what happened.

I checked with Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project for Empire State Development, who responded:

The EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] projected overnight and extended hours of work on the Atlantic Yards sites. The contractors had the appropriate permit to conduct work in the yard overnight. A supplemental construction alert should have been sent out to notify area residents. We will be certain to do so the next time last minute overnight work needs to occur.

Another lingering question, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch:

Why is the entire rail yard illuminated when they are only working @ the far north east corner of the rail yard?

link

Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

December 8, 2011

The Observer finds support and skepticism regarding Forest City's modular plans, ignores some lingering questions raised by company's announcement

Atlantic Yards Report

So, does the New York Observer's 12/7/11 article, The Mod Squad: Will Bruce Ratner Transform the Way New York Builds, or Is Prefab Another Project Too Far?, address some of the issues I raised last month, such as:

  • the curious timing of Forest City Ratner's modular announcement (to distract from a lawsuit)
  • the fact the permit application for the first building doesn't indicate modular
  • the possibility the announcement was meant to achieve union concessions (on a conventional building)
  • the diminished totals of project wages and tax revenues, with a modular plan
  • the amount of time it takes to get a factory up and running
  • the seeming disavowal of a pledge to build larger apartments
  • Ratner's astounding claim that "existing incentives" don't work for high-rise, union-built affordable housing

No.

That said, the article does gather a reasonable range of opinions on a plan that, given the total of 16 towers (nearly all of them housing), might justify factory start-up costs. And here's a tidbit that explains how the prefab plan was chosen:

Indeed, SHoP, the architects behind the arena and apartment towers, had two separate design teams working on the project at once, walled off from each other. They used different engineers and everything, had a mini architecture competition, and the prefab team came out on top.

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Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

The Mod Squad: Will Bruce Ratner Transform the Way New York Builds, or Is Prefab Another Project Too Far?

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

For nine years now, Bruce Ratner has talked of transforming Brooklyn with his Atlantic Yards project. Bringing professional sports back to the borough, creating a new skyline, “a neighborhood practically from scratch,” as architect Frank Gehry once described it. There would be union jobs and affordable housing for all to enjoy.

As of now, only basketball and a handful of those jobs are guaranteed, all of which took three times as long as originally planned. Mr. Ratner and his partners like to blame the economy and the holdouts who sued to save their property, but the fact remains, they are running well behind schedule, possibly even in violation of previous commitments made to the state when the project was approved.

To catch up, Forest City Ratner has come up with a novel solution for myriad problems with his project: modular construction. More than transforming Brooklyn, Mr. Ratner may transform the way the entire city, even the world, builds. At least that is his hope.

article

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Reactions to the Prefab Designs on Atlantic Yards

There’s a lengthy piece in the Observer about Forest City Ratner’s desire to use modular construction for many, if not all, of Atlantic Yards’ planned high rises. The story has quotes from people in the building trades who are supportive of the idea and some who are skeptical that it will actually save the developer a significant amount of money.
...

The real unanswered question, though, doesn’t necessarily concern the cost savings but simply the technology: That is, can modular design actually be used for buildings as tall as the planned Atlantic Yards skyscrapers?

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

December 7, 2011

Latest consultant's report: arena barely on schedule; transit connection still behind (but no graphic); release of revised project schedule indicating "delays" has been pushed back

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 12/2/11 and based on a 10/27/11 site visit, indicates that the Barclays Center remains barely on schedule at the halfway point. Meanwhile, the associated transit connection, for a good while two months ahead of schedule, remains behind schedule.

The report, based on cash flow, is prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

The slowdown likely portends more late night and weekend work to ensure that the arena can achieve substantial completion, as planned, by 8/23/12.

Oddly enough, the report does not contain a graphic--as have previous monthly reports--regarding the progress of the transit connection. That could lead to the conclusion that they don't want to emphasize bad news. (I posed several queries, by email and phone, to Merritt & Harris, but didn't get a response.)

And, as noted below, the release of a revised schedule, once expected to become available in October, has been pushed back.

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Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

December 6, 2011

ESD: roofing contractor that poured powder on Pacific Street "was appropriately reprimanded" (but we still don't know what it was)

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote yesterday about an incident captured on Atlantic Yards Watch, and now I have a partial response.

On Saturday morning (12/3/11) at about 7:30 am, workers for Wolkow Braker Roofing, which has a $4.3 million contract to work on the roof for the Barlcays Center, were spotted taking a white drum from a van, inspecting it, and upending it on Pacific Street, discharging a white powdery substance.

Asking questions

I queried the firm, and Empire State Development (ESD), which oversees Atlantic Yards, as to the nature of the powder (and whether it poses hazards), the appropriate procedure for disposing of such powder, and, if the procedure was improper, what action would be taken.

I got a partial response today from Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for ESD, who said "the contractor was appropriately reprimanded yesterday and we don’t expect this to happen again."

That didn't answer my first two questions, or regarding the nature of the reprimanded, so I requested further clarification from Hankin. If and when I get it, I will post an update.

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NoLandGrab: What ESDC means is "we don't expect this to happen again" on camera.

Posted by eric at 7:10 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: crane demobilized today; railyard flood lights on until 11 pm for second shift; union dispute re waterproofing of tank at arena

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 12/5/11, was distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

Such on-time distribution is rare--usually the document is a day or two late--but it's clear timeliness is important, because there are some significant changes beginning today.

The highlights:

  • a large crane at the arena site will be demobilized on a second shift today, 3-11 pm, to be replaced by a smaller one
  • the façade subcontractor resumed a second shift yesterday
  • waterproofing of a storm water retention tank is suspended because of a union dispute
  • railyard flood lights will not only be turned on at 6 am (though there are reports it's earlier) and from dusk to 7:30 pm as previous, but extended to to 11:00 pm, during double shifts
  • a Utility contractor working on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street has moved to a lot closer to Pacific Street "to help mitigate noise impacts to residents"

article

Posted by eric at 12:04 PM

December 5, 2011

What's going on here? Arena roofing contractors dump white powder on Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

If they were aiming to placate residents with free cocaine, they should know that folks near the Atlantic Yards site aren't having any trouble staying awake.

On Saturday morning at about 7:30 am, workers for Wolkow Braker Roofing, which calls itself "New York's Premier Roofing Company" and has a $4.3 million contract to work on the roof for the Barlcays Center, were spotted doing something very curious on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton Avenues.

As noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, at about :46 of the video below (and captured in the screenshot at left), workers for the company took a white drum from a van, inspected it, and upended it on the street, discharging a white powdery substance.

What was it? Was this SOP?

As they were wearing no protective gear, it's likely the substance was not particularly toxic. Still, dumping waste material, of whatever ilk, in the street, is hardly an appropriate procedure.

As asked on Atlantic Yards Watch, "Can the ESDC or FCR please tell the community what unknown white power substance was dumped into the street next to 171 unit residential building from a Barclay’s arena contractor? [Are] there any penalties?"

I reached out to the Empire State Development Corporation and Wolkow Braker, which works on major projects like office buildings, schools, courthouses, and museums. If and when I get any amplification, I'll post an update.

But wait, there's more. Click below to read on.

article

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

What's going on here? Atlantic Yards Watch offers more evidence that those operating railyard flood lights turn them on well before announced 6 am start.

Atlantic Yards Report

When author and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board member Jonathan Safran Foer wrote Everything is Illuminated, this isn't what he had in mind.

According to the last few Atlantic Yards Construction Alerts (e.g., 11/21/11, floodlights at the Vanderbilt yard are supposed to be turned on during the week at 6 am and from dusk to 7:30 p.m., to facilitate work.

As documented on Atlantic Yards Watch, on Wednesday, 11/30/11, the lights were on early, beginning at about 5 am, as indicated in the video below, and at 5:19 am, as indicated in the time stamp on the photo at left.

(Also see article on AY Watch.)

This isn't the first report of such deviation from the schedule.

As I wrote 11/10/11, Atlantic Yards Watch reported that, on the day before, the lights went on at about 4:30 am.

That may be more convenient for those planning work at the site. It's not more convenient for the neighbors. If the reports are true--and I'll see if Empire State Development, charged with overseeing site work, has a comment--shouldn't this be stopped?

And on Sunday

Note that the lights are supposed to be on early during the week to facilitate work.

However, yesterday, Sunday, when no one was working at the railyard in the early morning, the lights were on by 6:30 am, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Entire railyard is illuminated for construction mornings and nights, including outside of scheduled construction hours

Representatives of Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt raised the use of the lights with LIRR during a meeting in the spring of 2010. The meeting was facilitated by former ESDC Ombudsman Forrest Taylor and took place at his office. The lights had recently been installed and their intensity was a concern to the community. At the meeting LIRR reassured the community representatives the lights would be used only rarely for work that could not be done during the day because of conflict with railyard operation. The use of the lights for railyard or Carlton Avenue Bridge construction was not mentioned as a possibility. At this time in the project's implementation the temporary railyard has been moved to its new location on the east side of the LIRR/MTA property, but has not yet been covered.

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

What's going on here? Trucks keep idling on Pacific Street rather than wait in staging area

Atlantic Yards Report

OK, the video below, as published on Atlantic Yards Watch, does not represent the most scintillating viewing.

But it provides yet another example of trucks idling on a residential street when they should be in a staging area.

Three dump trucks are filmed at 6:30 am, across the street from a residential building, on the middle of Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues. The arena site is a half-block away, and the railyard site is around the corner.

In both cases, they're supposed to be staged on Pacific between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, a formerly public street demapped and turned into a staging area. For example, at 4:43, a construction worker seemingly gives directions to the drivers, two of whom leave at 9:37, and the third at 10:20.

What happened? As noted on AY Watch, either the trucks were released too soon from the staging area, or they avoided it completely, bypassing the truck route and entering Pacific Street from Carlton Avenue.

Why? Because there's too little oversight and/or the drivers and their bosses don't think it matters.

Who loses out? People who are living there.

link

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

December 4, 2011

New York State Abdicates Its Responsibility As Ratner Fouls the Air

Atlantic Yards Watch

Equipment spews dust into air over railyard and Atlantic Avenue

Video submitted with an incident report shows dust being blown into the air this morning in the railyard near the work reconstructing the Carlton Avenue Bridge. The video above is one of four submitted.

The incident report accompanying the video reports "this has been going on for the last few days."

The report notes that the dust was so significant the worker using a water hose to suppress dust moved away, stopping his task.

More violations of truck rules and regulations occur, causing air quality impacts

An incident report from November 28th contains two videos showing trucks departing the construction site quickly and stirring up dust into the air. The location of the incidents shown in the video is Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue, where a dispatch is supposed to stop all trucks and only let them advance when the designated entrance is ready to receive them.

Air quality in the community near the site is affected when trucks speed and/or dirt is spread from the work site by the wheels of construction trucks. While coordination of trucks associated with project construction has improved since incident reports and stories posted on AYW began drawing attention to violations of truck rules and NYC law, there has never been wheel washing stations at each exit as promised, and dirt and mud is often tracked from the site. Further, the number of exits/entrances currently in use at the site far exceeds what was anticipated in any environmental analysis.

Inside the construction site trucks are required to obey a 5 mph speed limit. The video shows trucks apparently traveling too fast on the public section of Pacific Street; an area where the 5 mph speed limit may not apply, but where community life must co-exist with the designated route of Atlantic Yards construction delivery trucks.

Posted by steve at 10:50 PM

December 1, 2011

PHOTOS: The Barclays Center Has Risen

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

Piece by piece and month by month, the Barclays Center has grown. Now, with the frame complete and the glass walls filling in, the arena is looking like the soon-to-be home of the Brooklyn Nets.

The enormous footprint lies within the intersection of Flatbush, Atlantic, Fifth Sixth [NLG: Thanks to Bruce Ratner, Fifth Avenue no longer exists northeast of Flatbush] and Fourth avenues.

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NoLandGrab: The fire hydrant at left indicates just how close the arena will be to Flatbush Avenue. That shouldn't be a problem, right?

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

November 28, 2011

So, how much did unions give up to get the Barclays Center going?

Atlantic Yards Report

On Local 157 blogspot, "Where New York City District Council Carpenters Communicate, Connect and Stay Informed!" there's an intriguing comment posted in response to a reposting of Daily News columnist Denis Hamill's valentine to Forest City Ratner's Bob Sanna and the union workers building the arena.

Wrote the anonymous commenter:

How about some free tickets for the men who took the hit on the PLA's [Project Labor Agreements] to make it happen.

Time to have a Trades Night out when the season starts next year. You can go by the Certified Payroll records on file with the CM [Construction Manager] & Project Owner.

C'mon - set it up. Let's see if Ratner appreciates the effort and steps up

Forest City Ratner stopped construction of the Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street) to negotiate a PLA.

I'm not sure if Forest City simply took advantage of an existing general PLA or negotiated one specifically for the arena. But it sure seems that the developer shaved savings on labor costs.

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NoLandGrab: Seeing how giving away unsold seats — of which there are likely to be plenty — won't cost Ratner a dime (and will generate otherwise-foregone concession revenue, to boot), this commenter will surely get his wish.

Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

The Man Who's Building Barclays

NetsDaily

Bob Sanna is the man in charge of construction at the Barclays Center, a native Brooklynite who's also a City College grad. His resumé is filled with some of the borough's biggest projects but he's most proud of the arena. "There’s a special feeling in having a hand in building a sports and entertainment arena where memories are made and history happens in my native Brooklyn."

Now 60% complete, Barclays will be unique in that the court --aka the "event level"-- will be 25' below street level, something he says was Bruce Ratner's idea after climbing the "endless escalators" of Madison Square Garden.

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NoLandGrab: Life's a bitch when you have to stand there while a mechanical stair case carries you to your luxury suite.

Photo: Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

November 26, 2011

Atlantic Yards Construction Tests Patience of Residents

WNYC
By Janet Babin

Construction continues on the developer Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Disruption is worse at night, especially for Prospect Heights residents. That’s when work crews spill onto Flatbush Avenue and snarl traffic. The work is testing some residents' patience.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Deconstructing a dubious, uninformed WNYC Atlantic Yards round-up

When I saw the headline on an WNYC article today, Atlantic Yards Construction Tests Patience of Residents, I thought that maybe they'd drawn from the ongoing Atlantic Yards Watch articles and incident reports on the impact of construction, such as the recent Trucks at Atlantic Yards continue to violate site protocols, obstructing a public street.

Nah.

The article is a remarkably uninformed, "View from Nowhere" hodgepodge. It's annotated below.

...

Construction continues on the developer Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Disruption is worse at night, especially for Prospect Heights residents. That’s when work crews spill onto Flatbush Avenue and snarl traffic. The work is testing some residents' patience.

Christine McCoy lives nearby and shops at was the Pathmark supermarket located across the street from Atlantic Yards, which will include Barclays Arena, the new home for the Nets NBA basketball team. “The traffic is crazy. I'm not going to be coming to this Pathmark anymore, because it is not going to make any more sense,” McCoy said.

Actually, the issue is less the crazy traffic by day but the impact of construction on adjacent blocks, as documented by Atlantic Yards Watch.

...

Despite these issues, there are many neighborhood residents who are eager for the project to move forward.

Jacob Parris owns Vinnies, a men's boutique a few blocks away from Atlantic Yards. Parris believes the arena will improve foot traffic to his store. “Right now everybody's driving...you know, they're driving either, past, going into the city, or driving back to Brooklyn,” said Parris. “But now with the stadium there, it'll be something to look, at something to want to walk through,” he said.

Vinnies is next to a couple of dense neighborhoods, so there's a lot of foot traffic on Flatbush Avenue. It's fair to say that retail serving nearby residents is doing fine--as long as they have a long-term lease--but more regional retail, such as Vinnie's, should do better with arena crowds.

Oh, and the Barclays Center featured Vinnies in a spotlight promotional video. Keep that in mind when you hear positive statements about the arena from Junior's, Hooti Couture, BK Terrace, Bergen Comics, all featured in such videos.

Posted by steve at 9:50 PM

Have unions "saved" Bruce yet? Not quite (though not unlikely)

Atlantic Yards Report

I'm a little late on this but I should point out that, while the 11/23/11 Brooklyn Paper article headlined Unions save Bruce with big pay cut to get Yards going sounds like a scoop, it offers no new evidence:

Union workers are coming to Bruce Ratner’s rescue — again! — agreeing to take massive pay cuts to pave the way for the first residential building at Atlantic Yards, a cut-rate, pre-fabricated tower to rise next to the Barclays Center.

...It is unclear how much money will be lost to laborers, but carpenters make as much as $90 an hour in wages and benefits at real construction sites, but only $30 per hour when working inside the kind of factory where Ratner will build the pre-fabricated units.

Many union leaders merely shrugged when asked about the pay cuts, suggesting that if the workers don’t give back, the project might not go ahead, leaving laborers with no work at all.

“We are attempting to reach an agreement … that will work for the building trades,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council.

A labor union source translated LaBarbera for those who don’t speak the language of press releases.

“The unions are going to do what it takes to preserve jobs for their members,” said the source. “The wage scale is ultimately going to be [the deciding factor]. This is going to be a long process.”

Yes, LaBarbera's quote--offered in accompaniment to Forest City Ratner's release of its modular plans--indicate that the unions are prepared to deal with Forest City Ratner.

But it's not clear exactly what will happen. Given that Forest City has not yet established that modular factory it plans, it's quite possible that the unions will compromise on compensation for conventional construction for the first building.

link

Posted by steve at 9:38 PM

November 25, 2011

With Roof Half Up, a View Inside

NetsDaily

Billy King, prohibited from talking about players or the lockout or anything much else, has taken to distributing the latest pictures of the Barclays Center, tweeting this image from inside the arena Wednesday, the first since the roof paneling started going up early this month.

The arena should be fully enclosed in January and permanent power from ConEd will be turned out next week. Workers continue to work double and triple shifts and weekends to assure "schedule maintenance", that is completion by late August of next year and a grand opening of September 28 (which also just happens to be Brett Yormark's 45th birthday).

Meanwhile, Bruce Ratner has reached a deal with union leaders to permit him to build the first of 16 modular apartment buildings at Atlantic Yards.

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NoLandGrab: If NetsDaily was written by real journalists rather than fans, they'd know that Bruce Ratner has reached no such deal. That conclusory tidbit is from an erroneous Brooklyn Paper report, but NetsDaily has never been long on facts.

Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

UNVEILED> SHOP’S PREFABULOUS ATLANTIC YARDS

Architect's Newspaper Blog
by Branden Klayko

From the twisting titanium forms of Frank Gehry’s Miss Brooklyn to a prefabricated tower of 17 unique modules, the design of Atlantic Yards’ runs the gamut of the architectural spectrum. On November 17, Forest City Ratner and SHoP Architects confirmed rumors that the 22-acre project will house a collection of the world’s tallest prefabricated buildings, beginning with the 32-story B2 tower nestled alongside the Barclay’s Center on Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street.

SHoP chose to break down the visual mass of the building by forming three distinct stacked and set-back volumes in accordance with guidelines set out for the project by the Empire State Development Corporation. Even though the façade will be comprised of hundreds of identical pieces, Chris Sharples, principal and founder at SHoP, told AN that the tower is designed to hide its modularity. “It won’t be obvious that this is a modular building,” he said.
...

Once at Atlantic Yards, modules are joined at vertical steel columns on their corners and cross-bracing installed to protect against lateral and seismic forces. Even without a traditional steel frame, Sharples said the Arup-engineered building will be just as strong as any other high-rise.

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NoLandGrab: And if it's not, that'll be the ultimate Atlantic Yards bait-and-switch.

Related coverage...

Construction Digital, World's Tallest Prefab Building Proposed

Prefab has long been avoided for projects over a few stories because of a lack of cross-bracing supports that allow towers to sustain the high winds and increased loads of vertical building. Designers hope to overcome these limitations with more than 900 steel chassis modules mounted on a system of steel frames, with all the connections on the exterior of the structures.

NLG: "Hope?!"

Buildipedia, SHoP Architects' Barclays Center comes to Brooklyn

Although the Plaza at the Barclays Center is surrounded on two of three sides by relentless traffic, it is being constructed without the "active edge" walls characteristic of classic piazzas. Nonetheless, it should provide a lasting foreground for the Barclays Center and is sure to be surrounded by Atlantic Yards high-rise neighbors. The Plaza is appropriately sized and intelligently located, allowing it to serve as the site for fun flea and farmer’s markets, street fairs, and the inevitable raucous victory celebrations.

NLG: Raucous celebrations are exactly what the residents living in the adjacent quiet brownstone neighborhoods are hoping for. Not.

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

November 23, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: how construction (at the arena site) "progresses as scheduled" but may require extra shifts, and "schedule maintenance" (at the rail yard) requires weekend work

Atlantic Yards Report

There's no major news, as far as I can tell, in the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 11/21/11 and distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner).

But I do want to point out some curious, recurring, "Orwellian, almost" language. The heading regarding the arena site states "Construction at the Arena Site Progresses as Scheduled."

However, the section also mentions that a second shift by the steel erector/stadia installer, while not expected in the next two weeks, will be re-evaluated after this period, while some weekday overtime may be needed and work on Saturdays will continue.

In other worse, "scheduled" progress requires overtime. Similarly, fireproof painting of the structural steel will continue on a second shift.

Also, waterproofing of the interior walls of the east storm water retention tank may be performed on a second shift. The tie-ins for the piping for the storm/sanitary/water services to the arena at 6th & Pacific as well as Dean & Flatbush may require a second and/or third shift, as well as weekend work.

The vertical transportation (aka elevator) contractor is expected to work a second shift during this period.

By contrast, the heading on the section regarding railyard work is "What's Happening in the Rail Yard." It also states:

Due to the need to expedite all of this work for overall schedule maintenance, it will be progressed on Saturdays and (selected Sunday & Holidays).

In other words, "schedule maintenance," like "scheduled" progress, requires overtime.

article

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

November 22, 2011

Boxy and Timely

Archinect
by Javier Arbona

Forest City Ratner has released renderings of their SHoP-designed high-rise condos for Atlantic Yards. And let's face it, assuming Ratner doesn't backtrack on the design yet again, the project resembles the same ho-hum, cookie-cutter vertical sprawl of a thousand-and-one other transit-oriented development boondoggles. But this one is even special-er, cus the business and modular-savvy of SHoP seems to have been put to good use for Ratner's union-busting scheme. As L Magazine writes:

The union workers who would be assembling the towers, in various factories, before they're stacked up, would stand to make less the half the hourly wage they could expect if the tower was constructed on-site. Forest City Ratner told the Times, "We are in the process of attempting to reach an agreement that will work for the building trades and Forest City in an effort to create permanent employment," because they are definitely trustworthy when it comes to delivering the jobs they'd long promised the community.

Someone, quick, please break-down what Bruce Ratner makes per-hour, given his $931,584.00 annual income.

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NoLandGrab: We're going to wager that the income figure represents only his Forest City Enterprises compensation, and not his Forest City Ratner haul, too.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Is Bruce Ratner "Union-busting?"

Is Ratner's dangling of modular construction a "union-busting" ploy to build conventionally on the cheap? That's the charge from Archinect and it is difficult to argue against....

One wonders if the unions will let this happen, after all, Ratner has no choice but to build union.

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

November 21, 2011

Bruce Ratner, seeker of housing solutions for the city, or cost-cutter?

Atlantic Yards Report

Do what you love, the money will follow, especially if what you love is getting your cronies in government to help you make money.

From Crain's New York Business yesterday, Modular thinking could shape NY's future skyline: Bruce Ratner wants 32-story stack to rise at his Atlantic Yards:

Developer Bruce Ratner thinks he has found a solution to the city's vexing housing shortage and wants to showcase the answer at his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

That suggests Ratner's motivation is civic virtue of some kind. It's a business, man.

Cutting costs

How about:

Developer Bruce Ratner was desperate to cut costs at his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn and is taking the risky step of building modular housing, which if it works, might be a solution to the city's vexing housing shortage.

article

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

November 20, 2011

Modular thinking could shape NY's future skyline

Crain's New York

Atlantic Yards doesn't have the starchitect, jobs, open space or affordable housing that was promised. Why would anyone believe it when Bruce Ratner says he's going to build modular?

Developer Bruce Ratner thinks he has found a solution to the city's vexing housing shortage and wants to showcase the answer at his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Forest City Ratner's chief executive wants to construct 15 apartment towers planned for the 22-acre site by using modular construction, claiming it will shave about 20% off the construction costs. He hopes to start assembling and constructing the first test case—a 32-story, 350- unit residential building stacked on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street—this spring.

“We could build 20% more housing this way,” Mr. Ratner said. “This could be positive for the city.” Mr. Ratner faces numerous challenges. He must reach a deal with various building trade unions in which they'd agree to the lower labor costs that modular construction promises. His company also still needs to obtain financing.

“At this point, we are pursing the prefabricated model,” Mr. Ratner insisted, adding that Forest City has been working on this approach for more than two years.

link

Posted by steve at 9:25 PM

As BrooklynSpeaks, AY Watch point to the need for oversight and questions about community impact, New York magazine's critic embraces Forest City's modular plan

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, Forest City Ratner's announcement of its modular construction plan certainly changed the narrative in more than one way. Not only did it deflect attention from the lawsuit filed by workers who said they were promised union cards and construction jobs, it has been embraced by at least one architectural critic who's generally been skeptical of Atlantic Yards.

Davison recognizes that modular housing "has a venerable but erratic pedigree," but suggests that the "great advantage of Atlantic Yards is that it’s huge enough to create its own demand":

Proposing a forest of modular high-rises might seem at first like a bargain hunter’s strategy to get something—anything—built at a troubled site. Unions are already upset at the prospect of shifting traditional construction jobs to lower-paying factory work. In the end, though, the move could help alleviate the city’s perpetual shortage of reasonably priced housing—and bring back some manufacturing as well.

Legitimate points, but lots left out, including the Bruce Ratner's admission of a bait-and-switch, along with an array of apartment sizes skewed smaller than promised.

...

BrooklynSpeaks, in Ratner: Affordable housing won’t work for Atlantic Yards, followed up on developer Bruce Ratner's statement to the Wall Street Journal,

Mr. Ratner said Thursday that the existing incentives for developments where half the units are priced for middle- and low-income tenants "don't work for a high-rise building that's union built."
He added that he had "accepted the fact that we're not going to get more subsidy."

BrooklynSpeaks warns that "his statement may set the stage for Forest City Ratner to claim an “Affordable Housing Subsidy Unavailability” under the master development agreement it executed with the Empire State Development Corporation."

That would allow construction to last even longer than 25 years. It's also possible, BrooklynSpeaks allowed, that this is a way to pressure union officials. (It's also part of the modular plan, I'd add.)

BrooklynSpeaks sums up:

First, $200 million of State and City subsidy wasn’t enough for Atlantic Yards. Next, Frank Gehry’s architecture was too expensive for Atlantic Yards. Then, the 10-year project schedule was too short for Atlantic Yards. Eight acres of open space also didn’t work for Atlantic Yards, unless one considers an 1,100-car surface parking lot to be open space. And providing unionized jobs for local residents hasn’t worked for Atlantic Yards, either. Now, the 2,250 units of affordable housing are in greater doubt. It may be the only public promise that FCR will be able to keep is that its arena will create a traffic nightmare in central Brooklyn.

link

Posted by steve at 12:34 AM

From Atlantic Yards watch: a traffic jam on Pacific Street yesterday, trucks idling, no enforcement

Atlantic Yards Report

Several trucks idling. A truck delivering steel beams stuck for an hour. Several trucks idling on the street behind it. Cars caught in the traffic jam honking.

All this outside the Newswalk, a large residential building on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, and adjacent buildings, late yesterday morning, as documented on Atlantic Yards Watch.

All apparently caused by the confluence of a construction worker's car double-parked due to lunch hour alternate side.

Meanwhile, flaggers from the staging area east on Pacific Street, unmindful of the traffic tie-up ahead, continued to let trucks proceed west toward the arena site.

Above left, trucks on Pacific Street just west and east of the Carlton Avenue intersection. East is the private street used as a staging area.

Note that the second truck blocked any other vehicle traveling north on Carlton Avenue to proceed in the only manner possible, which is west on Pacific Street.

The source of the traffic jam

Below, a picture of the rig further west on Pacific Street, stuck. More photos, and video, here. The lingering question: is there any oversight?

link

Posted by steve at 12:31 AM

November 19, 2011

Building #2 announcement raises questions about construction plans, parking and open space

Atlantic Yards Watch

When will there be promised affordable housing, parking for residential housing and open space? Just because Atlantic Yards is a publicly-subsidized project, it doesn't mean the public is allowed to know the answers.

The New York Times has unveiled pictures of what may be the first residential building to be built at Atlantic Yards. If this design is used for what is called Building #2, the 350-unit building will be the tallest using modular construction in the world.

At the last several District Service Cabinet meetings FCRC Vice Presidents Jane Marshall and Bob Sanna have stated alternate plans using modular and conventional construction are being prepared by FCRC. The Times notes that "the developer ultimately may instead decide to build the first tower conventionally."

According to the Wall Street Journal, FCRC will build using modular techniques if an agreement can be reached with the construction unions. The Journal cites Bruce Ratner that existing incentives for developments where half the units are priced for middle and low income tenants "don't work for a high-rise building that is union-built." Norman Oder in Atlantic Yards Report calls this a "stunning contention" and "astounding admission" because in both 2006 and 2009 the State found plausible the developer's argument it could build the residential development with existing incentives within ten years. Evidence to the contrary was ignored when those findings were made.

link

Posted by steve at 11:36 PM

How About That Modular Construction?

The proposed use of modular construction on the Atlantic Yards project site is likely a gambit being used to wring concessions from construction unions. But would current modular construction technology permit a 32-story modular building?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Modular Experts Comment On Ratner Highrise Plan
by Raanan Geberer

James Garrison, assistant adjunct professor at Pratt Institute and principal of Garrison Architects isn't very definite about the the possibility of tall modular buildings.

The use of this technology in Atlantic Yards, he said, would be a challenge because of the building’s height. “Tall buildings have to have significant wind and seismic earthquake loads, and because of that, they tend to have a very strong structure.

Treehugger, World's Tallest Prefab To Be Built in Brooklyn? Fuggedaboutit.
By Lloyd Alter

The title of this article leaves no doubt as to what conclusion has been reached.

The whole thing boggles the mind. Having worked in prefab for a number of years, I can tell you that it's complicated, more than just piling up boxes like Lego. To have changes in builders and architects, intellectual property battles, and fights with unions in a City like New York while trying to build the world's tallest prefab and save time and money? Fuggedaboutit.

Atlantic Yards Report, A statement from Council Member Letitia James on the modular issue

A statement by Council Member Letitia James on Forest City Ratner’s plan to use Prefabricated Steel on Towers at Atlantic Yards project:

“The use of prefabricated steel ‘modular construction’ to build apartment towers as a part of Atlantic Yards is another despicable slight to the community surrounding the project by eliminating more crucial jobs for residents, as well as possibly creating less sound structures in an attempt to cut costs, all while FCRC has received City and State subsidies for the development. Past experience has also shown that designing a ‘bracing system’ for prefabricated steel buildings to protect against storms has been challenging. Bruce Ratner does have an obligation to support the community he serves by providing employment opportunities, as well as to parallel the safety of these buildings with those around the footprint that have weathered more than 100 years.”

It will be interesting to see how the city and state confirm that high-rise construction with modules and a steel frame will work at the planned, experimental height.

And there's a lot more James could say, notably regarding how Ratner could claim that it's impossible to build high-rise affordable apartment buildings with union labor, and how the city seems to be learning how to do deals better.

Posted by steve at 10:34 PM

November 18, 2011

Moving the goalposts for the first Atlantic Yards tower: from "by year end" to "the spring," just in five months

Atlantic Yards Report

The Wall Street Journal reports, in an article headlined Ratner Goes 'Modular' in Brooklyn, dated 11/18/11:

Forest City now says it expects the first of those buildings—a 32-story, 350-apartment tower—to be started in the spring. But the firm hasn't yet secured financing for the building, and that date would be about a year later than the company pledged when it started the arena in early 2010.

Earlier this month, executive Jane Marshall said, "We still believe that, before the end of the year, we will be able to announce which way we’re going and show the the design to the public. That's our goal, consistent with our goal to break ground on B2 early next year.”

Actually, they haven't announced whether the first tower will definitely be modular. And they're no longer planning to break ground "early next year."

Moving the goalposts

This past July, MaryAnne Gilmartin, the developer’s Atlantic Yards point person, said, “We expect to decide on our construction approach in the coming months, and we anticipate a groundbreaking by year end."

So, just in five months, they've moved the groundbreaking from "by year end" to "early next year" to "the spring."

How can we trust the announcement that it would be modular?

link

Posted by steve at 3:36 PM

November 17, 2011

Forest City releases designs for first residential tower, which would be modular (unless it's not)

Atlantic Yards Report

In an announcement that just might have been timed to deflect attention from the lawsuit filed against Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner and longtime Community Benefits Agreement partner BUILD, the developer today released renderings for the three arena block residential towers, and said they'd be built modular--unless they're not.

Given the lack of certainty about the production plan, and no mention of financing, there's reason to think the press announcement was a strategic move, either to deflect attention or to put pressure on construction unions.

Note the rectilinear nature of most buildings, a far cry from some of original architect Frank Gehry's more irregular renderings.

The Times is given the scoop

The news was broken by the New York Times, in a CityRoom post headlined Design for Tower Unveiled at Atlantic Yards. (There's no mention of the business relationship between the developer and the New York Times Company, partners in building the newspaper's headquarters.)
...

The risk

[Times reporter Charles] Bagli points out that modular construction is "largely untested at this height," with the tallest building 25 stores:

The challenge for developers, architects and engineers in building taller modular buildings has been to design an economical bracing system that would protect the structure from wind shear and seismic forces. The developer is working with SHoP Architects, Arup structural engineers and XSite Modular. “If anybody can crack the code,” Mr. Ratner said, “this group can.”

This is the first Times mention of XSite Modular, which can work with Forest City thanks to the settlement of a contentious lawsuit.

The money

The article ends with a mention of discussions between the developer and construction unions. “We are in the process of attempting to reach an agreement that will work for the building trades and Forest City in an effort to create permanent employment,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said obliquely.

Not only would wages for workers be lower, and the number of workers (likely) decreased, so too would expected tax revenues to the city and state--another project selling point.

article

NoLandGrab: Norman Oder also points out that the building permit points toward conventional construction, not a prefab process.

Posted by eric at 3:18 PM

November 14, 2011

Traffic barriers and signs on Pacific Street are restored

Atlantic Yards Watch

After nearly six months, missing traffic barriers, parking regulation signs and traffic signs have been restored to Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues. The "MPT" (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic) measures were the victim of the heavy use of that block by Atlantic Yards related construction trucks. The parking regulation signs were apparently removed to enable illegal construction worker parking.

The barriers and signs are "temporary" measures implemented for the period the Carlton Avenue Bridge is closed. They are designed to delineate for drivers the current mid-block shift of Pacific Street from a westbound one-way to a two-way between 6th Avenue and the entrance to the LIRR ramp into Vanderbilt Railyards. LIRR vehicles must enter the ramp from the west due to its angle to the street. With the re-opening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, Pacific Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue will be returned to a two-way for the full-length of the block.

These measures have had to last longer than anticipated because the Carlton Avenue Bridge, originally anticipated to be closed for two years, will have been closed for four and a half years if it opens on the current schedule. They were restored because a community member raised the issue with NYCDOT. Although NYCDOT approves MPT measures associated with Atlantic Yards, it is FCRC's contractors who install and maintain them.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch: Finally, NYC DOT restores missing traffic barriers, parking signs to Pacific Street

If there weren't an Atlantic Yards Watch and watchful Atlantic Yards neighbors, how much oversight would there be?

After all, only activism from the latter has restored "missing traffic barriers, parking regulation signs and traffic signs... to Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues," according to Atlantic Yards Watch.

Who's responsible for the vandalism? Apparently construction workers trying to find convenient parking by breaking the rules.

Posted by eric at 7:45 PM

November 10, 2011

Atlantic Yards Watch: railyard flood lights, supposed to go on at 6 am, yesterday were illuminated 90 minutes earlier

Atlantic Yards Watch

Can we believe the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert?

Ummmm, no?

According to the document, to facilitate early start of work, railyard flood lights are supposed to be turned on at 6am. (Sunrise is after 6:30 am.)

However, according to a neighbor who shot photos and video yesterday and posted them on Atlantic Yards Watch, the lights went on at about 4:30 am.

The impact on residents? Those at 700 Pacific Street, face "extreme excess light pollution," blinding at times, according to the neighbor.

On video

link

Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

November 9, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: new floodlights at railyard; discussions about how to reduce noise during upcoming Atlantic Avenue work

Atlantic Yards Report

The big news from the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 11/7/11 and distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner) includes:

  • Work at the railyard will continue on Saturdays and some Sundays, "due to the need to expedite all of this work for overall schedule maintenance" (in other words, to not fall behind)

  • Now that Daylight Savings Time is over, Yard Flood Lights will be turned at 6am and from dusk to 7:30 pm.

  • Work will begin late 1st quarter or early 2nd quarter 2012 on the remaining traffic mitigation work, most of which is made up of raised medians along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue. Given previous complaints about noise, the parties involved are discussing how to "reduce noise intensity."

  • Bollard installation is continuing, starting at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street and is anticipated to be complete around the site perimeter by the middle of December.

I wandered by the site last night and saw a few bollards installed. Based on comments at last Thursday's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, it was my understanding, however, that the city Department of Transportation had not yet approved the bollard plan. (I'll update this when I get it clarified.)

article

NoLandGrab: Silly Norman Oder — Forest City Ratner doesn't need "approvals" to do what it wants.

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

November 8, 2011

NetsDaily Off-Season Report #30

NetsDaily

With no actual basketball to write about, NetsDaily devotes itself to real estate development, and unearths an interesting modular-construction tidbit from SHoP's Gregg Pasquarelli:

In a little noticed discussion among New York architects on September 12, arena design architect Gregg Pasquarelli raised doubts that it's going to work.

It's horrifying for me to say this but we are working on 2.7 million square feet of affordable housing in the city in five towers....I mean we've got two parallel teams working on this modular project to see if there's a way to build a 40- or 50-story modular building because by keeping it in the factory we can control the cost in a lot better way that we can out in the field. And it's really hard. We've been working on it ...three separate teams of 25 people working day and night on this for a year with developers who say I want a good building supportive developers who say build me the best building you can but here's the budget. It's almost impossible.

Pasquarelli doesn't mention Atlantic Yards, but it does seem that's what he's talking about and what Ratner wants him do. Pasquarelli's SHoP firm has a commission to design at least the first tower and has also been asked to revise the Frank Gehry master plan for Atlantic Yards.

article

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

November 5, 2011

Questions that could have been asked at the AY District Service Cabinet meeting about delays, oversight, responsibility

Atlantic Yards Report

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, most recently held November 3, offers less than 90 minutes for involved agencies, developer Forest City Ratner, and (a few) elected and Community Board officials to address specific and general issues.

And while there some little-promoted positive news--apparently the state, city, and FCR had figured out a way to reduce some jackhammering noise--several issues trailed off into obfuscation or simply were not questioned.

Thus, those overseeing the project still avoid accountability.

And those representing the public simply aren't doing enough.

Yes, Council Member Letitia James does by far the most, but she could drill down more. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Council Member Steve Levin did ask a few question--and at least they showed up--but were less effective.

Meanwhile, other officials presumably interested in the project and its impacts--Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and his colleagues Jim Brennan and Joan Millman; Council Member Brad Lander, state Senator Eric Adams--didn't bother to show up. (Jeffries sent a staffer.)

It's in Jeffries' district, while Brennan oversees the Assembly's Corporations Committee. Sure, he's got other priorities--and probably doesn't want to tangle with all-powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an Atlantic Yards ally--but shouldn't Brennan want to see exactly how Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation) operates?

Below, my speculation on how the meeting might have proceeded had the questioners pressed further and had more time. All dialogue in italics is specula

Click through to get an idea of how the publiclly-subsidized Atlantic Yards project continues to avoid public scrutiny.

link

Posted by steve at 8:40 PM

November 4, 2011

PHOTOS: The Barclays Center Comes Together

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Georgia Kral

The Barclays Center looms over the busy Brooklyn intersection of Flatbush, Atlantic, Fifth and even Fourth avenues. lt has been getting bigger and bigger with each month, and it finally looks like an (almost) complete structure.

article

Photo: Georgia Kral/Patch

Posted by eric at 11:54 AM

FCR still working on first tower, says arena and transit connection on schedule (no acknowledgment of delays), "working very aggressively" on Carlton Avenue Bridge

Atlantic Yards Report

At yesterday's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, a bi-monthly meeting of involved agencies and developer Forest City Ratner, representatives of the latter expressed confidence about current construction (without mentioning evidence to the contrary), less certainty about future towers (for which the timetable has shifted), and assurances (despite some doubts from elected officials) that the Carlton Avenue Bridge would get done in time for the arena opening next year.
...

“We still believe that, before the end of the year, we will be able to announce which way we’re going and show the the design to the public,” [FCR executive Jane] Marshall said. “That's our goal, consistent with our goal to break ground on B2 early next year.”

Actually, the timetable has been shifting. This past July, MaryAnne Gilmartin, the developer’s Atlantic Yards point person, said, “We expect to decide on our construction approach in the coming months, and we anticipate a groundbreaking by year end."

That wasn't the first shift. A year ago, at the 11/4/10 Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, Gilmartin said the developer intended to release designs and start construction of B2 in the first quarter of 2011.

The Empire State Development Corporation had, in June 2009, said that the first tower, at least, would not be delayed at all.

article

NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards is nothing if not shifty.

Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

November 3, 2011

Latest consultant's report is murky: transit connection delayed, but no explanation offered; not-yet-public document indicates "delays" and "extension of the construction term"; 415 workers on site

Atlantic Yards Report

Hints and statistical evidence that the Atlantic Yards arena and associate infrastructure have slowed somewhat are borne out--though not explicated and perhaps deliberately obscured--in the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 11/2/11 and based on a 9/28/11 site visit.

The report, based on cash flow, is prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

It states that the Barclays Center remains barely on schedule, while the transit connection, for a good while two months ahead of schedule, is now behind schedule.

And some misleading information is provided regarding the latter delay.

Strong hints of delays, but how important?

The report also drops a significant hint that the project is delayed somewhat. For the first time, it mentions a "GMP2"--presumably a revision of the project's Guaranteed Maximum Price--that "includes all delays" and "extension of the construction term." That GMP2 was to be issued October 1, but has not been made public yet.

article

Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

November 1, 2011

Forest City and the Development of Prefab Plans

Brownstoner

Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder has an extremely in-depth look at a lawsuit between two companies that Forest City Ratner worked with that sheds light on how the developer has been examining using modular construction at Atlantic Yards. The lawsuit, which was settled in August with confidentiality clauses, was brought by a company called Kullman Buildings Corp. against a firm called XSite Modular. XSite is comprised of several former Kullman employees. The suit alleged that Forest City “was effectively able to circumvent Kullman’s refusal to turn over the ownership rights in this system by the fact that Kullman’s key employees collaborated a plan to work directly with FCRC under the formation of a new rival company.” XSite entered into a contract with Forest City early this year and the developer paid for XSite’s defense. Kullman, which had been working with Forest City for a couple years, had also been up for the contract, which involved helping the developer develop a system for designing and manufacturing heretofore-untested super-tall modular buildings.

link

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

October 30, 2011

Guilt over recycling? Consider construction waste from "the 1%"

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times today prints comments regarding last Sunday's article on the recycling conundrum facing New Yorkers, headlined Lunch, Landfills and What I Tossed. One comment that made it into print, from union carpenter Gregory A. Butler:

It's fascinating that most of the commenters are focused on hectoring and lecturing the common man and woman to bring their own knives, forks, plates, napkins (and maybe even tables and chairs) from home as a means of reducing waste.

The thing is, a full 50% - 7 million tons out of 14 million tons of waste generated in this city every year - is industrial debris from construction.

Contrary to the article, we're not talking about "dirt" here. We're talking about cutoffs from metal studs, tracks and beams, pieces of scrap sheetrock, cardboard boxes that contained bathtubs, sinks, toilets and stoves, pieces of wood, sawdust, scrap electrical wiring ect ect ect.

There would probably be a lot more waste if construction workers like me didn't scour the jobsite dumpsters for scrap metal that we can sell for a profit.

However, nobody here talks about making Mr Trump, Mr Zuckerman, Mr Silverstein, Mr Walentas, Mr Ratner and the other New York real estate billionaires "reduce, reuse and recycle".

Why not charge them by the pound for all the garbage their construction sites generate?

That makes a lot more sense than putting a regressive garbage tax on the working class and the poor, or lecturing people to bring their own plates to a restaurant!

Let's keep the focus on the 1% and the garbage their businesses generate, rather than wagging our fingers at 99%ers with a plastic bag and a paper cup!

link

Posted by steve at 11:21 PM

October 27, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: second shift for steel not expected, crane planned for Flatbush Avenue, pile driving at Carlton Avenue Bridge

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated October 24 and distributed October 25 by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner), there are a few notable changes:

  • a second shift from the steel erector is not expected in this and next week
  • installation of the arena facade will require a crane to occupy part of northbound Flatbush Avenue
  • there will be additional pile driving (and, presumably, noise to neighbors) at the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

article

NoLandGrab: Funny, we thought the Carlton Avenue bridge was supposed to be completely rebuilt and operational at the beginning of 2010.

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

October 23, 2011

Barclays Center Construction Offset By "Works In Progress" Art Installation

NY1
By Jeanine Ramirez

From the "Putting Lipstick On Pigs" department:

In the midst of the frantically paced construction and the congestion of car and foot traffic, there's a calm escape at the site of the new Barclays Center.

Twenty works by Brooklyn artists are now displayed along Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, decorating the blue plywood set up along the arena's perimeter.

...

The group also wanted to help bridge the divide the controversial project caused by displacing some neighborhood residents and businesses that sat in the footprint of the arena.

"We knew that it was being built. There wasn't much that we could do about that. And we thought if we could help somehow both the neighborhood accepting this structure and the artists,” said Durso.

NoLandGrab: Exactly how is trying to give cover to the disaster that is Atlantic Yards helpful to the neighborhood?

link

Posted by steve at 10:33 PM

October 20, 2011

ArtBridge and Atlantic Yards: art spruces up some construction fencing (and we remember some history)

Atlantic Yards Report

It is surely an improvement over dull monolithic construction fence around the Atlantic Yards arena block, and there are some excellent individual pieces of art in the installation Works in Progress, curated by ArtBridge, which has the worthy aim of sprucing up construction sites.

Still, it was a little strange yesterday to be standing on Dean Street listening to the heads of ArtBridge--Founder Rodney Durso and Director Jordana Zeldin--describe their efforts, with the nearest backdrop a fanciful vision of wild animals.

(Photos and set by Tracy Collins. I cropped the photo at [right].)

After all, the north side of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues, now the southern border of the arena block, used to be a modest but sturdy Brooklyn street, as Collins's montage shows.

article

Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, 2011 Artbridge: "Works In Progress"

New York Magazine, Design News

Scaffolding Worth Looking At
The Atlantic Yards construction site is no one’s idea of beautiful, making it an ideal candidate for beautification by ArtBridge, the Chelsea public arts nonprofit dedicated to gussying up the city’s nearly 1 million linear feet of scaffolding. The group is turning roughly 2,500 square feet of perimeter fencing into canvases for twenty Brooklyn-based artists. The works were chosen from nearly 200 submissions by a jury including artist Vik Muniz, Humble Arts Foundation founder Amani Olu, and Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai.

Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

October 19, 2011

Atlantic Yards Gets Artsy

Curbed
by Sara Polsky

ATLANTIC YARDSVILLE—The folks from Artbridge have been installing an art installation, "Works in Progress" on the Atlantic Yards construction fencing for the past two days. Curbed intern Jeremiah Budin headed to Brooklyn to spy on the art going up—check it out in the gallery above. The installation officially opens Thursday.

link

NoLandGrab: They needed something to hide the pre-rusted arena cladding meant to pay homage to Pittsburgh Brownstone Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 12:52 PM

October 17, 2011

Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (lead nudges ahead), transit connection barely on schedule (and slowing); 422 workers

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 10/7/11, the Barclays Center arena remains on schedule, having increased pace slightly. By contrast, while the associated transit connection to the Atlantic Avenue subway hub is on schedule, but it's pace has continued to slow slightly.

The estimate, based on cash flow, comes in a report prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee. Two months ago, the consultant stated that the transit connection was two months ahead of schedule. There's always a time lag; this latest report is based on a 8/25/11 visit and documents made available 9/25/11.

Reading between the lines

The meaning of the pace reported is not simple to assess, as the consultant's rather opaque. This new report nudges up the arena completion by four days, to 8/23/12, while nudging the transit connection back six days, to 4/1/12. The report does not acknowledge that the latter date represents a revision of the schedule.

The report does not mention of the reason for and impact of extended construction hours--though it seems reasonable to conclude that extended hours are needed to stay on schedule.

article

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

October 12, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: as project progresses, more need for a second shift

Atlantic Yards Report

Here's a conundrum for Empire State Development: if the construction of the Barclays Center of Brooklyn® is really on time, then the Environmental Impact Statement is utterly worthless. But if the EIS isn't utterly worthless, construction of the Barclays Center of Brooklyn® is well behind schedule.

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated October 10 but distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner), even as progress in several areas is noted, more aspects of the project will go to a second shift.

The text I've excerpted below mainly concerns text in the document that differs from the previous alert, with the new language in bold.

article

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

Construction Alert drops a hint: some loud overnight work near Atlantic Yards site is not related to the project

Atlantic Yards Report

There's a brief but intriguing statement in the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 10/10/11 but issued yesterday afternoon:

We have been advised that Verizon has retained MFM Contracting to install new conduit in the Times Plaza area. This work is independent of and unrelated to the Traffic Mitigation work and is not under the control of AYDC [Atlantic Yards Development Company].

Unmentioned is that MFM Contracting is responsible for some of the loud overnight construction work, including in this video, that has plagued residents on Pacific Street near Fourth Avenue.

Does that mean Forest City Ratner is off the hook? Only partly--residents in the area have reported multiple sources of overnight noise (see list of FCR permits below), and other loud overnight work, such as at the Vanderbilt Yard, is clearly connected to the project.

And it's not clear if MFM's work is devoid of any relation to Atlantic Yards.

article

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

October 11, 2011

Revenge of the Megaprojects: Artists Try to Put a Good Face on Brooklyn's Arenafication

Curbed
by Sara Polsky

The Artbridge scaffolding art project already saved us from the terrifying scaffolding at London Terrace, and now it plans to take on a bigger construction site nightmare: Atlantic Yards. Back in June, the organization solicited entries from Brooklyn-based artists, specifically seeking "visual works that riff on, reveal, or reference the artistic process." Artbridge has chosen 20 artists whose work will cover close to 2,500 square feet of Atlantic Yards construction fencing. The installation, which goes up October 17, is fittingly called "Works in Progress." But when it comes to Atlantic Yards, is any amount of beautification enough?

link

NoLandGrab: Uh, no?

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

Map shows after-hours work everywhere; Final EIS made understatement that nighttime work "may also occur once or twice a week;" resident says "regular sleep is impossible")

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards Watch has produced an illuminating annotated map that shows how Construction in every location has been allowed by State and City agencies to extend beyond NYC's normal weekday construction hours.

What the FEIS said

According to Chapter 17, p. 11 Construction Impacts, of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Statement (FEIS), there was reason to expect some after-hours work:

Extended workdays are expected to occur about 40 percent of the weekdays over the course of construction.
...It is expected that weekend work may be required on one weekend day for approximately 50 percent of the weekends over the course of construction and, in exceptional circumstances, two weekend days would be required.

Notably, that section does refer to "evening and night work" but does not predict the frequency.

Later, in the section on Construction Traffic Projections, p. 39, the documents offers some more specificity:

Construction Work Shifts and Activities

Since a certain amount of extended hours, nighttime work, and weekend construction would likely be required, construction activities associated with the typical day shift (7 AM to 3:30 PM) would generate slightly fewer worker and truck trips than those described above. In general, the extended shift, which may occur once or twice a week during critical construction phases and end at approximately 6 PM, would involve no more than 20 percent of the day shift workforce. Nighttime work (3:30 PM to 11 PM), which may also occur once or twice a week during critical construction phases, could require a separate workforce, totaling no more than 10 percent of the number of day shift workers, to perform specific construction activities at the project site.
...

(Emphasis added)

article

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, No Sleep In Brooklyn (Atlantic Yards Area)

Bruce Ratner is keeping the whole neighborhood up, and New York City and State don't mind at all...

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

October 10, 2011

Construction in every location has been allowed by State and City agencies to extend beyond NYC's normal weekday construction hours

Atlantic Yards Watch

When it comes to Atlantic Yards construction, the rules are there are no rules.

Construction hours in New York City generally span the period from 7 am to 6 pm weekdays. One work shift five days a week from 7 am to 3:30 pm is the norm.

Atlantic Yards is different with extended construction hours taking place throughout the project and its vicinity. Even though the developer currently controls a little more than half of the project's prospective 22 acre site, construction still takes place throughout much of the 22 acres. And construction in every location has been allowed by the State and City agencies that oversee the work to extend beyond NYC's normal weekday construction hours.

The map above is indexed to show the locations where permission to conduct work outside of normal construction hours is detailed in the Atlantic Yards Construction Update dated from September 25th to October 9th. The 2006 footprint of the project is highlighted in orange; areas with active construction work are a stronger orange.

article

Posted by eric at 10:55 PM

An area of Fort Greene is now to receive rodent-proof trash cans

Atlantic Yards Watch

Patch reports the area eligible to receive rodent proof trash cans has been expanded into a portion of Fort Greene. This news follows Council Member James' request at the last District Service Cabinet that the distribution area for cans be expanded into Fort Greene as a response to complaints from community members.

Previously distribution was confined to the area from the east side of 4th Avenue to the east side of Vanderbilt Avenue south of the project site. During the last distribution of cans in August, they were available to residents of buildings with 12 units or less. According to Patch 150 trash cans will be distributed as early as this weekend to residents in the vicinity of South Oxford Street.

One filer of an incident report living in Fort Greene at Fulton Street and South Portland Avenue wrote, "We have never had such a severe rat infestation in the 28 years I've been around."

article

Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

October 9, 2011

Bordering construction site, indoor noise routinely exceeds 65 decibel threshold

Atlantic Yards Report

As I pointed out October 5, the city's current CEQR [City Environmental Quality Review] Technical Manual, dated 2010, states:

   410.  IMPACT THRESHOLDS AT RECEPTORS

The selection of incremental values and absolute noise levels should be responsive to the nuisance levels of noise and critical time periods when nuisance levels are most acute. During daytime hours (between 7 AM and 10 PM), nuisance levels for noise are generally considered to be more than 45 dB(A) [decibels] indoors and 70 to 75 dB(A) outdoors. Indoor activities are subject to task interference above this level, and 70 to 75 dB(A) is the level at which speech interference occurs outdoors. Typical construction techniques used in the past (including typical single‐glazed windows) provide a minimum of approximately 20 dB(A) of noise attenuation from outdoor to indoor areas.

In view of these factors and for the purposes of determining a significant impact during daytime hours, it is reasonable to consider 65 dB(A) Leq(1) as an absolute noise level that should not be significantly exceeded.

(Emphases added)

On October 7, inside the Newswalk building opposite the Vanderbilt Yard, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, one resident measured 7 am noise at 68 dB, accompanied by dust and smoke.

link

Posted by steve at 11:14 PM

October 8, 2011

UPDATE: Rat-Proof Trash Cans To Arrive In Fort Greene

Fort Greene Patch

For a few lucky Fort Greene residents dealing with a rise in the rat population—which may or may not be tied to Atlantic Yards construction—help is on its way.

According to Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, 150 heavy-duty rat resident trashcans will be distrubuted for the residents of S. Oxford Homes.

The 141-unit housing development is located a short distance away from the rising Barclays Center project between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Patch: Thanks to CM James and Forest City, some in Fort Greene to get rat-proof trash cans

Patch reports that 150 trash cans will be distributed in Fort Greene, thanks to a joint initiative by Council Member Letitia James and Forest City Ratner.

In August, FCR had paid for and distributed numerous cans in a limited area below Atlantic Avenue, assisting residents faced with a plague of rats--exacerbated by Atlantic Yards construction, many believe.

However, many people in Fort Greene have filed complaints with James. At the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet last month, James raised the issue, and Forest City somewhat reluctantly agreed to talk about it.

Patch reports that the trash cans would go to "residents of S. Oxford Homes," which is not a formal name I recognize. Possibly it's Atlantic Commons. But it likely does not cover the full area where people were complaining.

Posted by steve at 9:26 PM

October 7, 2011

The Bustle At Barclays Center

Documenting the construction of the new home of the Brooklyn Nets.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Patrick Conti

Finally, it appears as though motorists have mostly adapted to the major traffic changes near and around the arena, which went into affect this past summer—though the flow of traffic immediately surrounding Atlantic Yards still seems to be a slow go.

article

NoLandGrab: It doesn't just seem to be a slow go — it is a slow go.

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

The art strategy: beautify the construction fence and "riff on, reference, or reveal something about the artistic process"

Atlantic Yards Report

From ArtBridge, announcing work on a 400-foot long stretch of sidewalk shed, from 20 artists (in 19 works):

About Works In Progress — OPENING OCTOBER 20th

Art-making is a transformative act. Pigment mixed with medium becomes paint, that paint, when applied to canvas becomes “art,” that art, when we see it on gallery walls or in the public realm, alters the world around us.

The construction process can in many ways be seen as a mirror of the artistic one; breaking ground, reconfiguring it, reinterpreting space to make it new.

With this in mind we invite Brooklyn-based artists to submit visual works that riff on, reference, or reveal something about the artistic process for consideration for our latest public installation, ArtBridge: Works in Progress,” to be installed in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn in early Fall of 2011.

What constitutes a “finished” piece? How might a spot of bare canvas peaking through layers of paint reference a work’s beginnings? What kind of work results from careful planning? From spontaneity? These are some of the questions we hope that artists will address through their work.

Maybe another question might be: Is this the heart of Downtown Brooklyn?

link

NoLandGrab: Maybe it's us, but we have a tendency to feel a smidge of contempt for arts organizations that get in bed with Bruce Ratner, well intentioned, or not.

Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

Brooklyn Paper Blocks Links Re City Rules NOT Requiring That Hi-Decibel Late Night Construction On The Ratner/Prokhorov Arena Be Done At Night

Noticing New York

In an Atlantic Yards Report story we read that the Brooklyn Paper today published an article headlined "Noises on! Barclays Center construction now 24-7-365" that contains the following language, “City rules require that the work be done at night, when traffic is lightest,” leading the reader to infer that city rules are requiring that ALL of the work now being done at night during the now 24/7 schedule must be done at night. That’s not so.

What was more startling however, was reading in the Atlantic Yards Report story that when Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder twice tried to provide corrective comments to the article via the Brooklyn Paper’s “Reader Feedback” feature, his corrections were blocked. (See: Thursday, October 06, 2011, Brooklyn Paper covers after-hours construction but suggests that all of it is required to be done at night. Not so.)

Into the breach we went with a Noticing New York test of the Brooklyn Paper’s correction- censoring block. Here is our comment and our diagnostic of the situation.

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Posted by eric at 11:49 AM

October 6, 2011

NetsDaily: "critics" are "claiming" that construction noise bothers them.

Atlantic Yards Report

We're going to start calling these guys NetsDummy. Or NetsFaily. But really, what can one expect when they have feckless fans, rather than actual journalists, doing the writing?

You know who's bothered by Atlantic Yards construction noise. According to NetsDaily, the pseudonymously (and tendentiously) written website that claims to aggregate all Nets-related news, they're "[c]ritics of the arena."

No, they're not "critics of the arena." They're people who (in the main) have been uninvolved in the Atlantic Yards controversy but just happen to live very close to noisy construction. Which disturbs their sleep. Why? Because the state allows very loud overnight work to go on very near them.

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Posted by eric at 9:48 PM

Noises on! Barclays Center construction now 24-7-365

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

Workers will now toil on the Barclays Center around the clock, seven days a week to ensure that the $1-billion arena will be ready for Jay-Z’s grand opening concerts next summer.

Neighbors of the Prospect Heights arena were quick to notice the stepped-up construction schedule, thanks to ear-splitting noise between 10 pm and 6 am on Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth avenues, and Pacific Street, where roadwork is underway in hopes of reducing traffic to the 19,000-seat arena.

Construction is also going full-blast to repair the shuttered Carlton Avenue bridge, install new sewer lines and prepare the site’s rail yard for a massive upgrade.

As if that weren’t enough, truck deliveries to the site were pushed back to 6 am, and a staging area inside of the Atlantic Yards footprint is active 24 hours per day, according to residents.
...

“It’s noisy and loud,” said Milagros Barreto, who lives on Dean Street. “I can hear the work clearly from my house.”

John Carruthers, who lives on Pacific Street, said the noise is keeping him and his 14-year-old daughter up at night.

“She ends up going to sleep late and wakes up tired,” he said. “It’s pissing me off.”

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Brooklyn Paper covers after-hours construction but suggests that all of it is required to be done at night. Not so.

Norman Oder tried to post a comment to the Brooklyn Paper's story, but got denied. Here's part of it.

To say "City rules require that the work be done at night" suggests that Forest City Ratner has not asked for any special permissions. Not so.

There are no requirements, for example, that work be done at night at the arena site, or that deliveries be made earlier. They've speeded up. Asked about 24/7 work, Bruce Ratner said, "We don't want to take any chances."

Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

October 5, 2011

Construction noise inside a nearby apartment building: way off the charts (though not as bad inside a unit); maybe state, FCR officials should check it out

Atlantic Yards Report

WHAT?! WE CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Maybe Arana Hankin, the state official in charge of Atlantic Yards, and Jane Marshall, a Forest City Ratner executive, should take a relatively brief evening walk from their Fort Greene homes to check out the deafening construction noise at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street.

Marshall recently likened the additional stretch of overnight noise to a dentist's appointment that would be over in a month.

But that's not quite right.

It's probably closer to a long-term dentist's visit without any novocaine. After all, one resident of 568 Pacific Street described it as "torture."

At that building on Monday night, inside a hallway, a visitor registered a 94.0 dB reading on a decibel meter, as shown in the photo at right.

That's way, way off the charts.

Measuring impacts

The upper acceptable limit at night, according to the city and state, is 65 dB, which itself is way above the recommended level of 45 dB, as noted below.

But there's no evidence anyone officially involved in Atlantic Yards has tried to monitor this, or to offer promised mitigations (see below). Hence my suggestion above.

As shown in the chart at left, from a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) guidance on noise, sound becomes intrusive as it approaches 70dB.

It becomes annoying at 80 dB.

At 90 dB, it becomes very annoying, and can cause hearing damage after continuous exposure.

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Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

To Prefab or Not to Prefab: Atlantic Yards Design Decision Will Be Made This Year

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Prefabricated buildings have not been such a hot topic of conversation since Buckminster Fuller passed away, but that is about all anyone can talk about at Atlantic Yards anymore. On the one hand, it could signal a paradigm shift in how New York City builds, on the other, it goes against many of the employment promises Forest City Ratner made when the project won support from politicians and labor unions. With building plans recently filed, the decision on what to do is getting close. How close? The Observer asked Maryanne Gilmartin exactly that.
...

While Ms. Gilmartin could not say when the decision would be made, she did admit, “We’re on the cusp.”

“It’s definitely a 2011 conversation, and one we look forward to having very soon,” she added. That leaves us with 88 days until the big reveal.

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NoLandGrab: Their decision definitely probably likely possibly maybe could come any day week month year decade now.

Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

AY Check-In: Residential Build, Rats and Traffic

Brownstoner

Yesterday Community Board 2 sent out a comprehensive update on all things Atlantic Yards. A few things of note: the first residential building, which Forest City Ratner filed permits for in August, is currently known as “B2.” Design is under way, though there’s still no decision on whether it will be built using traditional or modular construction. As the Observer noted yesterday, Forest City says it will have something more to report by the end of the year, and construction is slated to begin shortly after. In response to previous rat complaints near the site, the city Health Department singled out three to four “hot spots” on Dean Street, between Sixth and Carlton avenues. There are also a few problem areas on Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street; the Pacific Branch Library, the Church of the Redeemer, and a catch-basin at that corner.
...

Finally, DOT reported on the traffic changes implemented this July and August. Traffic improved on Flatbush but slowed on 3rd and 4th avenues. DOT plans to adjust the signal timing on Fourth Avenue to reduce the jam of vehicles at Atlantic Avenue.
...

DOT is also holding a public hearing today, 2:00 pm at 55 Water Street, Room 707, on the revocable consent for the security bollards and other features surrounding the Barclays Center.

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Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

Rat Resistant Trash Cans Debated For Fort Greene-Clinton Hill

Representatives of Forest City Ratner agree to look into expanding giveaways north of Atlantic Avenue.

Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch
by Paul Leonard

For denizens of the neighborhoods north of the Atlantic Yards project, a new weapon in the battle against vermin may soon be at hand.

During the fifth meeting of the Atlantic Yards cabinet on Sept. 22, representatives from Forest City Ratner said it would look into supplying free rat resistant garbage cans for Fort Greene-Clinton Hill residents.

The developer already provides trashcans at several rat "hot-spots" in Prospect Heights. However, along with a rise in rat sightings in Fort Greene have come increased calls for Forest City Ratner to expand the program to the blocks north of Atlantic Avenue.

Residents blame increased excavation, demolition and construction at the Atlantic Yards site for the increase in rodent activity.

Forest City Ratner has said the increase in rat sightings is unrelated to Atlantic Yards construction.

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NoLandGrab: And big chunks of the Antarctic ice shelf falling into the ocean have nothing to do with global warming, either.

As Norman Oder points out in the comments, Forest City was more or less shamed into considering the trash-can giveaway by City Council member Tish James.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

October 4, 2011

Can't sleep? On video, the overnight jackhammer and excavator tear up Pacific Street, make a din

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder took his video camera over to Fourth Avenue and Pacific Street last night to see what all the racket was. Turn up the volume at your own peril.

[I]t's questionable whether the state's environmental review considered the full impact, given that soundproofed windows were offered only to people on the east side of Pacific and Dean streets, not the west. Nor were they offered to anybody living on Fourth Avenue.

Shouldn't measures have been extended? I haven't gotten an answer from Empire State Development.

On video

Well, I went over there last night at around 11 pm to observe jackhammering and the work of an excavator. The video begins near the station exit on the east side of Fourth near Pacific. The noise from the work was quite audible underground.

How loud was it?

My camera is mainly for still photos, so the microphone, and video capacity, remain rudimentary. So the actual volume of the work is even louder.

I didn't bring a decibel meter, but I can say that, as of this morning, my ears still ache. So it's understandable that residents say they can't sleep.

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NoLandGrab: As Bruce Ratner is fond of saying, "Let them eat Sominex."

Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

2006 environmental analysis underestimates extent of construction noise impacts; affected residents left without recourse

Atlantic Yards Watch

AYW has received numerous incident reports about noise from nighttime work in the vicinity of Pacific Street, 4th and Atlantic Avenues beginning in late July. Similar complaints have also been posted on Brownstoner and made to elected officials. The work involves infrastructure for the Barclays Center, and includes street construction with jackhammering.

After following up with the residents who submitted incident reports, AYW has observed the following:

  • Some affected residents live outside the zone identified in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) where significant noise impacts were anticipated. Sensitive receptor locations in the 2006 analysis (locations like residences or open space where human activity may be affected by project generated noise) do not account for more recent conversions from commercial to residential in the vicinity of the project site.

  • None of the residents complaining have received notice of the noise attenuation measures offered by Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC).

  • The specific noise attenuation measures offered as mitigation (double paned windows and air conditioners) are already in place and residents report they are still kept up at night.

A common complaint in the residents' reports is that their windows are not sufficient to stop the noise caused by the jackhammering, resulting in sleepless nights. The homes of the residents commenting below are labeled on the map above showing the zone significant construction noise impacts were anticipated in the 2006 FEIS (modified from FEIS, figure 17c-2). The anticipated affected area is shaded gray. It is also the zone in which FCRC is required to make noise mitigation measures available to residents.

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NoLandGrab: This should really come as a surprise to no one, but the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement is, on a pretty much daily basis now, being exposed as worthless.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, AY Watch: Noise plagues residents outside zone where impacts were anticipated

Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

September 30, 2011

Trucks still idle improperly at Atlantic Yards site, move from Pacific Street "No Standing" zone to Atlantic Avenue "No Standing" zone

Atlantic Yards Report

We fully expect to be relaxing in our Martian colony, watching a hologram about the last case of cancer, before Forest City Ratner and the ESDC enforce their own truck rules around the Atlantic Yards construction site.

Well, someone managing work at the Atlantic Yards site has been reading Atlantic Yards Watch. And they've apparently decided that, if they're going to continue to flout city parking rules by idling trucks in the early morning, it's better to do it on a non-residential street.

But Atlantic Yards Watch contributors are still watching.

In other words, the dump trucks that for weeks have for weeks been idling on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, occupying a "No Standing" zone, yesterday appeared (above) on Atlantic Avenue, occupying a "No Standing" zone between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

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Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

What can be done during the next month of jackhammering? Waiting for answers

Atlantic Yards Report

Two days ago, I queried Empire State Development, the state agency in charge of Atlantic Yards.

I pointed them to an Atlantic Yards Watch posting:

I have filed numerous 311 noise complaints about the jack hammering going on between 10pm and at least 4am every evening for the past 5 weeks. I can't sleep. I had a guest leave my apartment at 3am a few weeks ago to stay in a hotel because of the jack hammering.
This exception to the construction noise rule should not have been approved for jack hammering that goes on for hours on end every single night. It is torture for those of who live in the area.
I have also written to Community Boards 2 and 6. If someone doesn't put a stop to this, I will either have to have my windows soundproofed or move.

The jackhammering, as CB 2 District Manager Robert Perris told the complainant, is mandated to be done at night by the city Department of Transportation.

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall, at an Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting last week, likened it to a dentist's appointment that would be over after a month or so.

But Forest City Ratner was to pay for soundproofed windows on certain blocks in the vicinity of the project site.

"Is there any plan/option for FCR to pay for additional soundproofing, as they were required at least for certain areas?" I asked two days ago.

I'll update this when I get an answer.

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Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

September 28, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: some residents to lose water service temporarily; Flatbush Avenue will lose a lane at night

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert (below), dated September 25 but distributed yesterday by Empire State Development (after preparation by developer Forest City Ratner), some residents around the 4th Avenue and Flatbush Avenue intersection will lose water service temporarily--but it's unclear how long and how extensive that shutdown will be.

Also, the document indicates that bollard installation--pending Department of Transportation approval (hearing October 5)--is on the way. Also, additional lane restriction on Atlantic Avenue is planned, and from 10 pm to 6 am a lane on Flatbush Avenue will go out of service.

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Posted by steve at 11:12 AM

September 27, 2011

#128553 Jack hammering EVERY NIGHT

SeeClickFix

This one might be beyond the abilities of SeeClickFix.

Street Address:
590 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY
Boerum Hill

Tags: Noise Complaint
Status: Open

I have filed multiple noise complaints with 311. Every night (except when it rains!) jack hammering begins around 10pm and goes on through the wee hours of the morning. I have to turn on my a/c unit in the bedroom just to muffle the noise. It's difficult to sleep. I live on Pacific St. near 4th Ave. and it seems that this construction project (roads? cable company? no idea) is exempt from the 6pm-7am law prohibiting loud construction. Why? There are many apartment buildings in the area. I had a guest in my apartment leave in the middle of the night to stay in a hotel. This must stop. It's inhumane.

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NoLandGrab: Why? Because Bruce Ratner has an arena to build.

Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

September 26, 2011

A cloud of smoke rises above the arena this morning

Atlantic Yards Watch

A cloud of what appeared to be smoke rose above the arena this morning. The photo above and the time-lapse video below are derived from photography taken from our live camera facing the arena block.

The live camera takes photos every minute. The time stamp on the photos shows the smoke lasting for approximately 15 minutes from 6:46 to 7:00 AM. The images appear to show the cloud moving out of the arena block toward the camera. Air quality is a major concern for the community surrounding the construction site and also presents health hazards for construction workers.

The smoke was first noticed by an Atlantic Yards Watch contributor who was videotaping this morning's truck activity. The incident report filed by that contributor primarily focuses on truck violations, but it also includes video capturing the smoke around the 3:17 mark.

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NoLandGrab: It's likely they were testing the machine that blows smoke up the ass of the news media prior to this morning's big press event.

Posted by eric at 2:50 PM

Getting the arena done in time for Jay-Z means they're cutting corners

Atlantic Yards Report

As the hoopla crests for Jay-Z's announcement this morning of Barclays Center inaugural activities, let's remember:

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Posted by eric at 8:48 AM

Moving the goalposts: Will the Barclays Center open in "the summer of 2012"? Was the first tower due "by the end of the year"?

Atlantic Yards Report

With an announcement expected today of a Jay-Z concert series (and local marketing campaign) to launch the Barclays Center, does that mean the arena will open in "the summer of 2012," as once promised?

It depends on what the word "open" means.

The fall of 2012 begins on 9/22/12. The "grand opening"--presumably with that Jay-Z concert--has long been promised as 9/28/12, nearly a week later.

However, that "grand opening" is to be preceded by "public events and tours," during which the arena would be "open."

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Posted by eric at 8:45 AM

September 25, 2011

Understatements from the Final EIS: construction vehicle noise "not predicted to be significant" and noise levels from construction "relatively low for... a project of this magnitude"

Atlantic Yards Report

With evidence of continued overnight noise faced by Brooklyn residents and trucks idling improperly early in the morning, it's worth a look at what Chapter 17, Construction Impacts, of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement predicted:

In general, noise generated by construction vehicles traveling to and from the project site was not predicted to be significant.

Perhaps "[i]n general" serves as a weasel phrase to avoid specific impacts on people living on Pacific Street.

The chapter also stated:

While construction activities would be noticeable and intrusive, the noise levels produced by construction activities with the incorporated noise reduction measures would be relatively low for construction of a project of this magnitude. Additional mitigation measures that were identified to further reduce these incremental construction noise levels at nearby residences are described below and summarized in Chapter 19, “Mitigation”.

But there aren't many projects of this magnitude, and the state overrode city zoning to allow an arena to be built within 200 feet of residences.

So it also could be said that the "noticeable and intrusive" construction activities would be relatively higher because they'd be that much closer to people.

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Posted by eric at 1:42 PM

September 24, 2011

The collateral damage from construction = at least a month-long root canal; were sufficient mitigation measures (soundproofing, etc.) taken?

Atlantic Yard Report

Just like a good terrible neighbor, Forest City Ratner is there — 24/7.

Y'know, to get that Barclays Center built, there just has to be a little collateral damage. Arena boosters would say there's always disruption with construction--and there is.

Except it should be within limits, right? Nobody would countenance, say, dismemberment of just one member of the public. But what about a month-long root canal?

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall suggested Thursday that disruptive, noisy overnight work near the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues would be over, like a "dentist's appointment," by the end of October.

"Losing my sanity"

Meanwhile, as one resident wrote in a complaint to Atlantic Yards Watch, late night work has been driving him nuts:

probably my last entry since it appears that the overnight jackhammering has been approved and will not stop for about a year until all is said and done. continuing the reporting to 311 is, therefore, a waste of my time.
looking at soundproofing my windows which is expensive, but so is losing my sanity.

As the complainant suggests, some work will continue for more than a month. Indeed, a message from Forest City Ratner points to the installation of new water trunk main and associated distribution mains on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, for which Stage Three work should be complete by April 2012. Other sidewalk work would last until August, 2012, though it's unclear how much jackhammering that will include.

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Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

September 23, 2011

Not just Thursday: video from this morning shows trucks stacked up on Pacific Street and other violations

Atlantic Yards Report

Earlier today I described videos (posted on Atlantic Yards Watch) that showed trucks stacked up at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street rather than queuing a block away as required.

This morning the same thing happened, according to Atlantic Yards Watch, along with dump trucks illegally idling next to the Newswalk building on Pacific Street (see screenshot) and the continued failure to follow the "Stop Here on Red Light" sign.

Click through for video and more.

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NoLandGrab: There's a reason they call it dope.

Posted by eric at 9:32 PM

Early morning violations of truck protocols contrast with FCRC statements at Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet

Atlantic Yards Watch

Lying was much easier before smart-phone cameras and the Internet.

The protocols for construction trucks described "as significantly improved" yesterday by FCRC's Adam Schwartz at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet are documented being repeatedly violated earlier yesterday morning and today by multiple incident reports filed on this website.

Only hours before Schwartz spoke at Brooklyn Borough Hall, project-related trucks were advancing before the receiving gate was ready, idling, standing in no-standing and no parking zones, ignoring a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and not obeying NYCDOT designated truck routes.

At the District Service Cabinet FCRC's Schwartz stated, "the guard does not release trucks from our site until the gate is ready to receive them." The guard is located at Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue. In following this protocol the trucks enter the project site from Vanderbilt Avenue and line up inside the project footprint on the former Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. This is apparently done in the hope of lessening impacts on the residents who live along the stretch of Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues that would not ordinarily be a truck route.

But this protocol was not followed.

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NoLandGrab: We would ask "what are they smoking?" — but we know the answer already.

Posted by eric at 9:18 PM

A factor in Atlantic Yards delays?

Atlantic Yards Report

This did not come up at yesterday's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting.

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NoLandGrab: This explains a lot.

Posted by eric at 5:36 PM

Are new procedures "very effective" in managing truck traffic at arena site? Videos show cluster of trucks on residential street

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, less than four hours before a Forest City Ratner official declared that new procedures had been "very effective" in preventing trucks from approaching entrance gates at the Atlantic Yards site before workers were ready to receive them, a resident shot videos that show exactly the opposite.

The videos shot beginning at 6 am were included in two postings (1, 2) on Atlantic Yards Watch made by a resident of the Newswalk building along Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

That stretch sits between the professed staging area--now a private street--on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and the arena entrance west of Sixth Avenue.

Clearly lots of trucks are jumping the gun--and ignoring both site rules and violating parking regulations.

Click thru for the videos.

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NoLandGrab: Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to follow what would appear to be simple rules if they cut back a little on the wacky weed.

Posted by eric at 5:11 PM

September 22, 2011

Flashback: Nets' Yormark was "absolutely" sure the arena would open in the fall of 2011

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how Nets CEO Brett Yormark was certain that the arena would open this season? Let's go back to a 12/2/08 interview with a skeptical Craig Carton of WFAN.

BY: A realistic time frame is in Brooklyn, operating in the summer of 2011, being there for the '11-'12 season.

CC: So being there in the fall of 2011, so three years from this season--

BY: That’s correct--

CC: --you think that you’ll have everything built, the infrastructure done, and you will bounce a basketball in an arena in Brooklyn in three years?

BY: Absolutely. Convinced of it.

Now, of course, Yormark is convinced the arena will open in the fall of 2012. It's much more likely--a lot of contractual money depends on it, which is one reason there's so much after-hours work.

But we'll keep watching for that after-hours work.

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Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

Construction of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) Arena Is Behind Schedule. Either That, OR a 24/7 Construction Schedule Was ALWAYS Intended

Noticing New York

Ostensibly, construction of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) basketball arena for the Nets, which is being erected where Park Slope, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights intersect, is now, and has always been “ahead of schedule.” That’s according to the construction reports prepared by real estate consultant Merritt & Harris, reporting to the trustee for holders of the bonds issued to finance the project. See: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (but lead is narrowing), while transit connection is on schedule (but no longer ahead) from which the above charts were cribbed.

But if construction of the arena is really on schedule, why has it been necessary for some time to accelerate with the shift to a 24/7 round-the-clock construction regime with night time jackhammering and weekend work happening on both Saturdays and Sundays throughout the project footprint? Why is it necessary for the developer/subsidy collector Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner's construction people to get after-hours variances for such increasingly continuous work (which they secretly lie to obtain) except for the fact that work is actually behind schedule?. . . That is unless the round-the-clock scheduling of work was always an intended part of maintaining the construction schedule, in which case the environmental impact statement intentionally avoided depicting with truth and accuracy what was to befall the community?

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Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

September 18, 2011

FCRC representative says late night jackhammering is mandated by DOT, and noise can't be muffled

Atlantic Yards Watch

FCRC Community Liaison Brigitte LaBonte has provided more information about nighttime work in roadways.

She details upcoming work on Flatbush Avenue at Dean Street that will take several weeks, and states the traffic mitigation work that is at least partially responsible for complaints about jackhammering will end before the NYC Marathon in early November. The installation of new water mains on Atlantic Avenue will continue until April 2012. Additional mitigation work such as the construction of sidewalks will continue until August 2012. Nighttime use of the staging area associated with infrastructure work in block 1129 will continue through that time.

Some follow up questions have been sent to LaBonte requesting further information about the flexibility of the contractor's timetable for the mitigation work at 4th Avenue and Atlantic, as well as about the possibility of shifting the location of the late night staging area within block 1129 given nighttime disruptions related to it will continue for nearly a year more.

Because LaBonte's information is specific to work occurring in roadways, it does not address extended hours work in the footprint. Over the weekend a new round of complaints were submitted to AYW from residents of Newswalk Condominium complex about demolition work in the railyard on Saturday.

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Posted by steve at 10:42 PM

September 16, 2011

Atlantic Yards-related work extends to 24 hours a day, resulting in many reported quality of life impacts

Atlantic Yards Watch

Eine kleine Nachtmusik, brought to you by Bruce Ratner.

Be sure to turn the volume up to 11 to enjoy the full effect of the late-night jackhammering.

Late night and weekend work hours continue to be expanded at Atlantic Yards. The work in the video above takes place at Atlantic and 4th Avenues on a regular basis late at night and is concluded at 6 am. This video is from September 1st.

Normal construction work hours at the site extend from 7 am to 3:30 pm. Work in the arena is now often 24 hours a day during the week and extends into weekends. As of this weekend, work in the Vanderbilt railyard will take place both Saturdays and Sundays. Truck deliveries for the arena have now been moved forward to as early as 6:00 am. Construction staging on block 1129 is active any time extended hours work takes place elsewhere in the footprint or its vicinity.

The number of workers during extended hours is often significantly less than during normal weekday hours. And according to the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, "work that generates high noise levels would be scheduled during weekday daytime hours to the extent feasible...unless required by safety or other agency requirements." Now safety and other agency requirements often appear to override community noise concerns.

The work can be distressing for residents nearby. In the last several months repeated complaints have been made about the installation of the traffic mitigations at Atlantic and 4th Avenues.

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Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

September 15, 2011

Forest City to launch Sunday hours in railyard for at least three months; 6 am deliveries have begun

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Atlantic Yards two-week Construction Alert/Update, prepared by Forest City Ratner and distributed by Empire State Development, covers the weeks beginning September 12 and September 19, but was released yesterday, two days late.

The big news: work at the railyard will begin on Sundays for at least three months, starting this Sunday, and that arena site deliveries have begun at 6 am, an hour earlier than previously, and could continue for another year.

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Posted by eric at 12:49 PM

September 14, 2011

Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (but lead is narrowing), while transit connection is on schedule (but no longer ahead)

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 9/9/11 (and based on a 7/28/11 visit and documents made available 8/29/11), the Barclays Center remains one month ahead of schedule, while the associated transit connection to the Atlantic Avenue subway hub--after being ahead of schedule--is simply on schedule.

The estimate, based on cash flow, comes in a report prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee. Last month's report, however, stated that the transit connection was two months ahead of schedule.

(The transit connection is supposed to be completed by 3/26/12, while the arena is due 8/27/12.)

Some opacity

Also, there seems to be a lingering dispute about the schedule for which the resolution just keeps being put off, with no clarity from the consultant.

NetsDaily stated that the arena is ahead of schedule "despite" the hurricane and earthquake in August. The Site Observation Report makes no mention of the impact of either.

The hurricane hit 8/28/11, by which time nearly all of the month's spending, in documents made available 8/29/11, had been completed. In other words, next months' report should be more illuminating, though, given the relative opacity of these reports, I wouldn't bet that the impact of the hurricane will be noted.

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Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

September 13, 2011

Truck deliveries procedures are revised at the site; a new system is introduced with a colored ticket required for entry at some truck entrances

Atlantic Yards Watch

Following months of reports on Atlantic Yards Watch about trucks driving illegal routes, idling, and traveling with uncovered loads in the neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards, a new system of organizing truck deliveries appears to have been put in place by Forest City Ratner this week.

The new system involves a colored ticket which is picked up by drivers on Pacific Street at Carlton Avenue. The drivers then proceed to the gate with the sign that matches the color of their ticket. The ticket is required to enter the gate.

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Posted by eric at 9:17 PM

September 5, 2011

Panoramas by Tracy Collins: three views of the arena site

Atlantic Yards

Prospect Heights photographer Tracy Collins on August 27 took several panoramic photos (copyrighted) of the Atlantic Yards arena site, from three separate positions.

Because of the wide lens, they portray the arena site as less vertical and more isolated than actual. But they're still valuable snapshots.

Atlantic Avenue near Fort Greene Place (the continuation of Fifth Avenue, were it not demapped), from the north (note how Atlantic seems to bend).

Dean Street near Flatbush Avenue, the southwest corner of the block (Dean Street bends too, as it continues behind the cars in the intersection; Flatbush goes to the east past the white building).

Atlantic Avenue near South Portland Avenue (the continuation of Sixth Avenue), looking south (note how Atlantic seems to bend).

link

Posted by eric at 9:49 AM

September 4, 2011

Variations on a B: emerging Barclays Center signage, visions of a Prospect Heights corner, and reminders of some anti-AY murals

Atlantic Yards Report

At the western end of the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, Block 1129 (east of Carlton Avenue and between Pacific and Dean streets), a wall section of weathered metal used for the exterior of the Barclays Center has been established for a little more than a week.

I walked by on Friday, September 2, and shot several pictures with an extended lens.

Thus the buildings in the background seem extremely close, though they're not. At right, for example, the gray and white building, 470 Vanderbilt, looks quite close, though it's actually bordered by the railyard and wide Atlantic Avenue.

And while the wall section looks large in close-up, it looks much smaller from a distance.

Below are photos shot from farther away along Carlton Avenue south of the corner as well as directly west of the corner. Note that Block 1129 will eventually by used for indefinite interim surface parking, for 1100 vehicles.

...

Again, 470 Vanderbilt seems very close, as do other buildings across Atlantic Avenue. Note how the wall section at left is blank, where anti-Atlantic Yards murals, including "Gehry, thy name is eminent domain," were painted over.

However, the "Obama!!" mural, also painted by the anti-AY Prospect Heights Action Coalition (PHAC), was, prudently, allowed to remain.

Click on the link to see the complete photo-tour.

link

Posted by steve at 8:50 PM

September 3, 2011

Will sidewalks close around the arena? Partly, during construction of towers

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development Corporation has posted (also embedded below) 68 questions and responses from the 6/14/11 public meeting on traffic issues.

I've already highlighted some of the questions and responses, including the capacity of sidewalks on Dean Street, plans for the surface parking lot, the impact of traffic on the Dean Street Playground, a post-arena opening traffic study, and the Transportation Demand Management plan.

Sidewalk closures coming

The question:

53.Please discuss the timetable for sidewalk closure on the Arena block while the Arena is in operation.

The answer:

Once the Arena opens all sidewalks are expected to be open as well, although during construction of the remaining buildings on the Arena block, there is the potential for intermittent partial sidewalk closures in the vicinity of that construction work. FCRC has stated that B2 (at the northeast corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street) will be under construction by the Arena opening. Any sidewalk closures will be included in the construction alerts posted on ESD’s website and distributed to the community boards and residents. No sidewalk closings (or partial closings) would take place without NYCDOT or NYCDOB approval, and they would require a Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) plan to address and minimize the impacts of the construction work.

(Emphasis added)

On the other hand, the sidewalks in places will be constricted, so closing sidewalks and having the passageway diverted to the street will make things more complicated.

link

Posted by steve at 9:51 PM

September 2, 2011

After "continuing violations regarding truck protocols," state to issue first-ever "notice of violation" to Forest City Ratner, posing potential fines

Atlantic Yards Report

Is Empire State Development (ESD, aka Empire State Development Corporation), the state agency overseeing the Atlantic Yards project, finally cracking down on contractors and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) not following the rules at the construction site?

Well, slightly, which in the context of widespread complaints marks a step forward.

Errant trucks

On 8/25/11, after I saw the Atlantic Yards Watch post, Not an isolated incident: truck use of residential Clermont Avenue is widespread, I asked ESD to comment.

Agency spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded two days ago, on 8/31/11:

In general, the identified instances of non-compliance have been corrected. ESD is able to fine the developer for persistent violations, but most violations have been episodic instances of non-compliance by one of the contractors working on the project. ESD plans to issue a notice of violation to FCR for several continuing violations regarding truck protocols.

What's that mean? Mitchell responded:

A “notice of violation” is a letter from us to FCRC stating that FCRC has not complied with the MEC [Memorandum of Environmental Commitments]. FCRC has 30 days to comply with the MEC, and if they do not, ESD is able to require them to pay a fine of $1,000 per day.

Yesterday she clarified that it was the first notice of violation.

Note that it's not clear what "several continuing violations regarding truck protocols" describes. It could refer only to the mis-use of truck routes, but it sounds broader. So it also might apply to the failure to cover trucks with a tarp to suppress dust or perhaps apparently improper deliveries.

What does it mean?

Given that there have been periodic--and seemingly persistent--blatant violations, with ESD calling them isolated incidents, it's notable that the state has finally, belatedly acted.

article

NoLandGrab: Pardon our French, but what the f**k is so hard about throwing a tarp over a truck and not driving on streets you're not supposed to drive on? Or about actually enforcing those rules?

And we're supposed to count on these people to manage game-day traffic and other complex issues?

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

August 31, 2011

From the latest Construction Alert: signs that excavation has been delayed (flooding?), bus stop on Flatbush removed for utility work

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, one day late, Empire State Development (aka Empire State Development Corporation) issued the two-week Construction Alert (bottom) dated 8/29/11 prepared by developer Forest City Ratner. I've highlighted below changes compared to the alert issued two weeks earlier, dated 8/15/11.

The changes seem relatively small, though, interestingly enough, one paragraph in the 8/15/11 alert was missing:

Excavation for storm/sanitation/water services near the intersections of Dean & Flatbush as well as 6th & Pacific will continue during this reporting period and the next. These excavations (trenches) will be in excess of 25 feet below street level and will require tie-in to existing piping within both Dean Street and/or 6th Avenue. Permits are being submitted to borough agencies to allow the tie-ins and a maintenance and protection of traffic (MPT)/pedestrians plans(s) is being prepared; installation will not occur until permits have been granted. A second and/or third shift is being considered to execute this work. Permits for a second or third shift to perform this work will be submitted prior to beginning the work.

(Emphasis added)

I asked ESD yesterday if that excavation was completed, or delayed, perhaps because of the rain associated with Hurricane Irene. If/when I get a response, I'll add it.

article

Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

August 29, 2011

Lago di Bruce

flickr

Raul Rothblatt documented the aftermath of Hurricane Irene's pass through Prospect Heights.

link

Photo: Raul Rothblatt

Posted by eric at 7:11 PM

Video shows that, after criticism was raised publicly, trucks as of August 26 stopped using residential street as shortcut

Atlantic Yards Report

I can't say the video below documents riveting action, but it does seem to confirm that those working at the railyard site finally paid attention to criticism aired on Atlantic Yards Watch and this blog: trucks previously seen using Clermont Avenue, a residential street, in violation of city law and site rules, as of Friday, August 26, were no longer doing so.

link

Posted by eric at 6:54 PM

Storm mostly spares New York City; had winds been worse, unsecured potential projectiles at Atlantic Yards site could have posed dangers

Atlantic Yards Report

Anyone familiar with Bruce Ratner's record of "securing" construction sites won't be surprised that Atlantic Yards was a hurricane accident waiting to happen.

As the New York Times headline put it, Storm Damage Largely Spares New York, which includes the Atlantic Yards site.

NetsDaily reported:

Barry Baum, senior vice-president for communications at The Barclays Center reports the arena "had no structural damage or damage to equipment. There's water, but it is being pumped out. Everything held up very well." Critics had questioned whether equipment had been secured.

That's a rather pat dismissal (though par for the NetsDaily course). After all, the fact of no damage does not mean that equipment was secured.

As noted yesterday, there were signs of inadequate preparation--materials and equipment left uncovered at the site, despite instructions from the Department of Buildings.

Additional photos

And, according to the file below contributed by a reader, there were several instances of unsecured potential projectiles, including loose lumber. Also note overturned toilets and some collected trash that likely exacerbates the rat problem.

Note that the file is hardly comprehensive; the before-and-after photos focus on the railyard and the site perimeter, not the interior of the arena site, where there were more materials and equipment.

Click thru for pictures, including one of the "Outhouse of Flying Daggers."

link

Posted by eric at 9:24 AM

August 28, 2011

Atlantic yards construction site with equipment not tied down.

yfrog

A casual inspection of the Atlantic Yards arena construction site makes one have serious doubts that the Department of Building guidelines for securing a construction site before hurricane Irene hits Brooklyn were followed.

link

NoLandGrab: The first item on the DOB's list is "Tie down and secure material and loose debris at construction sites."

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, As storm approached, were materials and equipment at Atlantic Yards site secured? Photos suggest vulnerability

Posted by steve at 10:17 PM

August 26, 2011

Hurricane prep: starting tonight at 9 pm and going 'til 6 am, noisy work on streets around arena site to clean sewers/catch basins

Atlantic Yards Report

All Atlantic Yards work might be suspended after 2 p.m. tomorrow, but Bruce Ratner is giving residents near the Atlantic Yards site a special pre-hurricane gift tonight.

An announcement from developer Forest City Ratner via Empire State Development:

As part of the Atlantic Yards Emergency Preparedness Plan for Hurricane Irene, the utility contractor has secured a Vactor Truck and will be cleaning a number of catch basins in the area of the Atlantic Yards Project. This cleaning will assist in the water flow away from the streets. Below is a list of the 11 catch basins that will they will be working on as may be required:
1. North side of Dean St. at Flatbush Ave:
2. South side of Dean St. at Flatbush Ave
3. West side of 6th Ave at Pacific St.
4. South side of Atlantic Ave west of 6th Ave.
5. South side of Atlantic Ave between 5th Ave and 6th Ave.
6. South west corner of Pacific St. and Carlton Ave intersection
7. South east corner of Pacific St. and Carlton Ave intersection
8. West side of 6th Ave, south of Pacific St.
9. East side of 6th Ave, south of Pacific St.
10. North side of Pacific St., east of 6th Ave.
11. South side of Pacific St., east of 6th Ave.

This work will commence Friday, August 26th at approximately 9 P.M. and will be concluded by 6 A.M., Saturday, August 27th Residents in the vicinity of the project should be aware that the machinery used for this work is noisy. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

link

Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

Department of Buildings suspends construction throughout city starting 2 pm Saturday; no AY arena work was planned

Atlantic Yards Report

There's no after-hours variance for work at the Atlantic Yards arena site this weekend (unlike last weekend), which might make sense, given the impending hurricane and--as noted below--that the city has suspended work starting 2 pm tomorrow.

link

Posted by eric at 9:04 PM

Not an isolated incident: truck use of residential Clermont Avenue is widespread

Atlantic Yards Watch
by Danae Oratowski

More than a dozen videos, taken over the course of a single week, document repeated illegal use of Clermont Avenue by fully loaded dump trucks leaving the project site from the Carlton Avenue brige exit. As the videos show, trucks exiting the Carlton Avenue bridge site on to Atlantic make the first left on to Clermont, departing from NYC's designated truck route. Clermont Avenue is a residential street of three story townhouses and a public housing complex and is the location of two public playgrounds (one is part of the Atlantic Terminal Housing; the other, the Cuyler Gore playground, is at intersection of Clermont and Lafayette).

The videos were recorded on three days, August 15, 18 and 19 (There is an AY Watch incident report for each day; while each day's report documents mulitiple violations.) Most of the trucks had ‘LMC Trucking - USDOT: 1501837’ as vehicle identifiers.

The use of a residential street as a truck route violates NYC City law as well as the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Requirements, which is part of the project's of Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, to be enforced by ESD and Forest City Ratner.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Atlantic Yards Watch: trucks continue to leave railyard site and use residential street

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

August 25, 2011

Ratner Files App for First Residential Bldg. At Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Linda Collins

Nostradamus? No, MaryAnne Gilmartin!

MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner Companies, predicted it would happen.

At a meeting of the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable in February, when she was giving an update on the Barclays Center Arena and the Atlantic Yards development, she said that within the year construction might begin on the development’s first residential building closest to the arena.

Indeed, a permit application was filed Aug. 16 with the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) for the new building.

Emphasis, ours.

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, and The Rapture came on May 21st, and since we didn't repent, we must be in Hell, condemned to having to read nonsense like that above for eternity.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Barclays Center Going Up, Out, and Glassy

Curbed
by Kelsey Keith

Curbed has new construction photos of the Barclays Center, replete with God-awful pre-rusted siding.

You've seen all the ridiculously glossy renderings, but how's that Barclays Center arenafication business going? Evidenced by our intrepid intern William Weber, a good portion of the weathered steel facade is in place and things are getting glassy.

link

Photo: William Weber/Curbed

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

Track outages in two weekends (September/October) due to "continuing construction work at Atlantic Yards"

Atlantic Yards Report

Speaking of changes in our transportation infrastructure, Bruce Ratner will be knocking out subway service for a couple weekends this fall.

Meanwhile, construction does have consequences: subway closures.

The latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert provided this ambiguous information:

Track Outages (General Orders)

IRT and BMT Tunnel inspections have taken place and repair work will be implemented during scheduled NYCT track outages during evenings and weekends. An IRT GO is scheduled for Saturday, August 27th to perform ceramic tile work. The next BMT GO’s will take place in September and October and are currently being scheduled with NYCT. Minor repair and cleanup work will occur on selective evenings under scheduled NYCT flagging protection.

Brooklyn Community Board 14, recipient of a message from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, provides more detail:

Weekends of September 23-25 and October 14-16, 2011:
From Friday beginning at 10:00 PM to Monday ending at 5:00 AM, for these two weekends B & Q service will be suspended between Pacific Street and Prospect Park, due to continuing construction work at Atlantic Yards. Shuttle bus service will be provided at Pacific Street, 7th Avenue, and Prospect Park B & Q stations.

link

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

August 24, 2011

Bruce Ratner to Finally Build a Residential Tower at Atlantic Yards?

The L Magazine
by Mark Asch

For now, the Observer further reports, Forest City Ratner isn't ruling out the possibility of building a prefabricated tower—it'd be a cheaper, shorter process, requiring far fewer construction workers—a test balloon that took many potshots when it was floated this spring.

“'Clearly, prefab housing is not what we expected,'" Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79, told the Brooklyn Paper: '"The only reason we [supported the project] was for jobs for our members.'" Right, because Forest City Ratner has kept so many of the promises it made in manufacturing enlisting support for Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

Permit for first Atlantic Yards tower filed; signs suggest it won't be modular (so how will they save money?)

Atlantic Yards Report

While the permit application doesn't say so explicitly, one sign points to conventional construction: the building's primary structural system would be "Steel (Encased in Concrete)," while the tallest modular building extant, a 24-story, $34 million high-rise in Wolverhampton, England, is framed with structural steel.

That structure is considerably shorter than the 33-story, 322-foot, 368-unit tower planned by Forest City. Indeed, what drew headlines was Forest City's apparent interest in building the world's tallest modular residential building--a tactic that might save significant sums but also could pose risks.
...

More subsidies?

If Forest City can't save money via modular construction, how do the numbers "pencil out"? After all, in March 2011, talk show host Brian Lehrer asked Rafael Cestero, outgoing Commissioner of the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development (HPD), about the report that HPD had declined Forest City Ratner's recent request for an additional $10 million in additional subsidies--beyond the $14 million for 150 units--for the first residential building.

"One is, we have a set of programs that we use across the city... that fall within certain subsidy parameters that make sense for taxpayers and make sense for the city," Cestero responded. "We felt that the additional subsidy that Forest City was requesting... didn't meet those parameters and, frankly, that we felt was not a good public investment to go beyond what we have already committed."

"We want to see housing built there. We're all deeply committed to seeing not just the arena built, but to see... the affordable housing built," he added, "but we think the parameters that we've laid out, the program that we've laid out, allows that project to go forward."

So has the developer figured out a solution? Or has the Bloomberg administration moderated its position?

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

Ratner finally moves ahead with residential Yards tower

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The 368-unit building — which may be either a conventional tower or a controversial pre-fabricated structure — would rise on Dean Street just east of Flatbush Avenue, next door to the under-construction, 19,000-seat Barclays Center.

Ratner’s Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin said that construction could start this winter after a “year-end ground-breaking.”

Designs for the building are being finalized, but Gilmartin confirmed that Ratner’s team is “still designing both prefab and conventional alternatives” — with a final design decision expected by the end of the year.

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Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

Ratner eyes arena apts.

NY Post
by Rich Calder

After eight years of planning, developer Bruce Ratner hopes to finally move forward with the first of 16 residential and commercial towers planned for Brooklyn’s embattled Atlantic Yards project.

Ratner has filed a permit with the Department of Buildings to erect a 33-story, 368-unit building at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, next to the 18,000-seat Barclays Center being built for the NBA’s Nets.

Half the units would be designated as affordable housing for low- and middle-income families.

link

Posted by eric at 9:48 AM

August 23, 2011

If Bruce Ratner Builds It: Forest City Files DOB Application for First Apartment Tower

NY Observer
by Thornton McEnery

Here comes the next round in the city’s most intractable debate over the further development of Atlantic Yards, as it appears that exactly one week ago, Forest City Ratner filed its first building application for a residential tower on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue.

And that, and a dollar, will get you... a dollar.

As The Observer reported in the fall, Forest City Ratner planned to begin construction on the project during the first half of this year. While it has missed that mark, there was suspicion nothing would get built this year at all. Herewith is the first proof that might not actually be the case.

According to Forest City Ratner, everything is moving ahead as planned. “The permits were filed as standard operating procedure as we move forward,” Director of Commercial & Residential Development MaryAnne Gilmartin said in a statement. “We are still designing both prefab and conventional alternatives for the first residential building at Atlantic Yards and are shooting for a year end groundbreaking. We hope to show renderings to the public during the 4th quarter of this year.”

article

NoLandGrab: By "show renderings to the public," Gilmartin means "grant an exclusive to The New York Times."

Related coverage...

Curbed, Forest City Ratner Files for First Atlantic Yards Residential Permit

The application calls for a 33-story, 368-unit building, and the company previously promised that it would be a 50-30-20 project—20 percent of the units reserved for low-income tenants, 30 percent for middle-income tenants, and the remaining 50 percent for market-rate tenants. The building listed on the application is also roughly the size of the prefabricated tower Bruce Ratner was considering, and a construction worker at the site told Brownstoner that's still a possibility.

The Real Deal, First permit for residential tower at AY filed

Posted by eric at 10:14 PM

Forest City Starts Permit Push for First AY Tower

Brownstoner

In February a Forest City Ratner executive said the firm hoped to break ground for the first residential building at Atlantic Yards before the year is out, and that may yet happen, as the company just submitted its first application with the DOB for the high-rise. The permit request is for a 33-story, 368-unit tower on Flatbush and 6th Avenue, which means it will be right next to the arena. Half of the building’s units will be affordable housing. A construction worker at the site said this morning that it’s still unclear whether or not the SHoP Architects-designed tower will be prefabricated. Alas, no real renderings yet!

link

NoLandGrab: And all of the Brooklyn Islanders are going to live there!

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

August 22, 2011

Traffic, including bicycle lane, to be squeezed by Dean Street excavation between Flatbush and Sixth; new removable fencing to be installed to hasten work

Atlantic Yards Report

According to a Supplemental Report (below) to the two-week Atlantic Yards look-ahead dated August 15, prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and distributed by Empire State Development, some 40' to 60' of the 16’ high fence on Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues will be removed, and replaced by "temporary 8 foot tall barrier consisting of plywood on Jersey barrier."

The reason? A safer and more portable fence is needed, over 30 to 45 days, to be moved daily to accommodate excavation for water and sewer piping.

Given that the excavation for the water and sewer piping will require a 25-foot trench from the face of the foundation to Dean Street centerline, traffic will be squeezed.

The upshot: part of the bicycle lane will be displaced:

Temporary traffic controls signage will be provided to alert bicycles and vehicles to “share the road”. Some parking on the south side of Dean Street will be removed for the duration of the work.

The 16’ high fence will be reinstalled after the piping is installed.

link

Posted by eric at 9:48 PM

Article suggests Forest City has chosen low-cost, stackable modular system--perhaps untested domestically--for Block 1129 surface parking

Atlantic Yards Report

"Modular" — it's not just for 34-story apartment buildings anymore.

According to an 8/20/11 article in the Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette, headlined City authority explores new type of parking facility, Forest City Ratner is considering an inexpensive, fast-to-assemble pre-fab parking solution (which, I'd add, is apparently little tested domestically, if at all):

Williamsport Parking Authority is exploring a less all-concrete type of parking facility, designed to be demountable, semi-permanent and more environmentally friendly.

It's called More Park System, a "bump-up parking deck," which is made of removable pre-cast concrete platforms secured by galvanized steel beams that can be assembled in a few weeks - as opposed to several months of construction - and is available in airports in Europe and soon to be providing parking for the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA's new franchise team.

Neither the Nets (not a "new" franchise) nor Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner have made such an announcement, but it's plausible that the developer would aim to save money and time.

Could it be that Bruce Ratner's threatened promised 1100-spot surface parking lot could morph into a 2200-spot bi-level lot? This sci-fi/horror flick raises the possibility.

article

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

August 18, 2011

At meeting on rats, recognition that the multi-faceted problem persists, especially near transit hub

Atlantic Yards Report

A community forum last night on rodent issues, hosted by Empire State Development and New York City Departments of Health and Sanitation, drew just a handful of residents, but their concerns indicated that, however welcome Forest City Ratner's offer of free heavy-duty garbage cans, rat problems in the area of the Atlantic Yards site will persist.

Notably, the street corners at and near Fourth and Atlantic avenues, heavily-used thoroughfares, overflow with garbage, which draws rats, and additional construction and project-related utility work on the streets exposes rats. A few attendees called on Council Member Steve Levin, who represents those blocks, to take action.

(Council Member Letitia James, who represents the north side of Flatbush Avenue, sent a representative, though Levin did not.)

One resident of Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues said that "you have to walk shaking your keys" on the street at night to stave off rats. "Otherwise you hear people screaming" after they encounter the rodents.

She and a resident of Dean Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues both said there were severe problems on their street. Indicating the dicey relationship between homeowners and city agencies, both were reluctant to see their names published, fearing that they might be targeted for inspections, then fined if rat burrows were found.

Source of rats

City officials stressed there were multiple sources of and support for rats in the community, even as residents have put most of the blame on Forest City Ratner's major construction site.

At the Atlantic Yards project site, a state official acknowledged, the developer had not been properly disposing of trash, but had since improved performance by hiring new staff and dedicating baskets for food waste.

article

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Addressing the Rodent Problem Near AY

Posted by eric at 1:25 PM

August 17, 2011

Forest City Ratner Responds To Rat Tsunami With Trash Cans

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

Forest City Ratner, the developer behind the controversial Nets arena currently rising over the Atlantic Yards, seems to have expanded its "rodent control program" to help neighbors dealing with "a rat tsunami." Their solution? Free trash cans! Better than nothing, we guess.

link

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

Concrete workers' strike averted at last minute

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on the 11th-hour agreement by concrete workers to a new contract, which averts possible work disruptions on the Barclays Center construction site.

article

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

August 16, 2011

Atlantic Yards developers hand out rat-proof trash cans to neighbors besieged by rodents

NY Daily News
by Kevin Deutsch

Developers of the rat-plagued Atlantic Yards project began doling out free rodent-proof trash cans yesterday to their vermin-weary neighbors.

Forest City Ratner supplied the heavy-duty, high-necked cans after years of complaints from Prospect Heights residents. Locals claim demolition work at the site unleashed an army of furry pests onto their streets - and the only ones happy are the cats.

"I'm glad they're finally giving us these cans, but my cat's been bringing home rats in his mouth since 2007," said Alan Rotthar, 47, who lives across from the future Nets arena. "The rats have been our neighbors ever since excavation began that year. They're in our cars and homes."
...

Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner, said the cans are part of a larger effort to expel the vermin. "Anything we can do to help fight the problem, we will try to do," he said, adding that the company will give out hundreds of cans this week.

article

Apparently, some residents aren't convinced by Forest City's platitudes, as this commenter writes:

Nice puff piece. It took loud persistent complaining for RATner to do anything about this. yet it has been happening for years. It should have read after persistent community complaining FCR has finally taken a baby step on this problem.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Forest City Ratner Offers Free Garbage Cans Due To Atlantic Yards Rat Problem

NY1

Ratner to slovenly Prospect Heights residents: it's not us, it's you!

After months of complaints from neighbors about an increased rat population around the Atlantic Yards construction site, the developer is now working to fix the problem.

Forest City Ratner is handing out free garbage cans that are harder for rodents to get into.

The developer claims the rat increase is not because of construction garbage but because people are not disposing of their own garbage properly.

article

Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

From the latest Construction Alert: not much new, but a third shift may still be requested

Atlantic Yards Report

Below is the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, covering the weeks beginning today, 8/15/11. There's no major news, as far as I can tell, though I've bolded certain pieces of text that represent tweaks from the previous report, dated 8/1/11.

Note that no third shift permit has yet been granted, despite multiple mentions that it might be requested, and that the purported request for permission to begin deliveries at 6 am seems odd, since a permit to begin deliveries at 5 am has already been granted.

(It may be that the former request regards a separate part of the site, but perhaps the next ombudsman can clarify that for us.)

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Posted by eric at 9:38 AM

August 14, 2011

Free Rat-Repellent Trashcans for Atlantic Yards Neighbors

Prospect Heights Patch
By Will Yakowicz

Hey, have a trash can. Now the rats are your problem.

Forest City Ratner is offering tenants, superintendents and building owners—near Atlantic Yards—lidded, heavy-duty trashcans to fight the overwhelming rat problem in and around the soon-to-be Nets arena.

FCR’s trashcans are approved by the Department of Health for the “rodent control strategy.”

Not every building is eligible, only buildings that are 12 units or less and located south of Atlantic Avenue from Fourth Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue; Vanderbilt Avenue from Atlantic Avenue to Bergen Street; Bergen Street from Vanderbilt to Fourth Avenue; and Fourth Avenue (East side only) from Bergen Street to Atlantic Ave.

link

Posted by steve at 10:24 PM

More trouble with a Casagrande drill when it releases what appears to be smoke

Atlantic Yards Watch

In the last two weeks, this website has received incident reports related to adverse impacts on air quality from mechanical demolition, loading of trucks without spraying, an uncovered pile -- one of a number -- on site, jackhammering of a retaining wall, idling trucks, and now again from the Casagrande drill.

The use of Casagrande drills have instigated complaints from nearby residents related to noise, vibrations and air quality. After striking video documentation of dust spewing from the drill was sent to ESD in April, the drill was apparently modified. In June, mud spewed from the drill injuring two pedestrians outside the construction site and damaging seven cars.

Today, one of the drills released what appears to be smoke into the air. The two videos below were submitted with an incident report which identifies the incident as occurring at 9:23 this morning.

link

Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements and/or NYC law are documented today before noon

Atlantic Yards Watch

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements, and/or NYC law were documented before noon today. The filer was stationary and only captured those incidents within the visual range of his/her location. The times below are from the incident reports.

1). 5:50 am

A flatbed truck delivering steel idles under the windows of Newswalk's residences on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues. The Barclays Center truck rules require trucks to wait on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt and advance under the guidance of a flagger at Carlton and Pacific Street. They are not allowed to wait in this location.

The report states the truck idled for over an hour and that the driver ignored a request to move from a resident. The photo below apparently shows an Atlantic Yards worker documenting the truck with a cell phone camera.

2 and 3). 8:44 am

Two trucks, one red and one white, travel Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues uncovered. ESD has told Atlantic Yards Report that starting August 5th trucks associated with McKissack, (the contractor they identify as the source of the uncovered trucks previously reported at Atlantic Yards Watch), will be removed from the construction project if they leave the work site uncovered. However, a later incident detailed below documents uncovered trucks like these, (possibly even these same trucks), entering the Barclays Center work site which is supervised by Hunt.

The trucks shown in the photo below either left the site uncovered at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street, or reached this location by traveling a route not designated as a truck route by NYCDOT like Carlton Avenue and/or Dean Street.

4 and 5). 9:00 am

Two flatbed trucks delivering steel wait, (and the incident report states idle), on Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton to enter the arena block. They are not allowed to wait in this location. Note that one is parked in the travel lane of Pacific Street near the main arena entrance gate. This has happened before.

At around the 4:50 point in the video an empty flatbed truck leaves the arena block entrance, making room for the the forward steel truck to advance. As it moves to the gate a pedestrian pushing a baby carriage is in the crosswalk. The pedestrian is forced to walk around the steel delivery while a green van, which the incident report states is also associated with construction, moves forward without stopping at the designated stopping area roughly 150 feet from the stop light. Note how the operation of backing the steel trailer into the arena block ties up the 6th Avenue/ Pacific Street intersection.

Mostly westbound Pacific Street is currently designed to accommodate eastbound vehicles heading to a LIRR railyard access ramp located east of the 6th Avenue intersection. A "two way traffic ahead" sign and a "do not enter" sign providing instruction to drivers in this location were knocked down around a while ago, possibly by construction, and have not been replaced despite 311 calls.

6). 11:06 am

A truck leaves the railyard entrance on Atlantic Avenue near Carlton and turns onto Clermont Avenue. Clermont appears to be regularly used by trucks from this entrance gate, but it is not a designated truck route. The following is the second of a sequence of four photos. McKissack is the contractor for work in the railyard.

7). 11:15

Either the same red truck, or another, travels Pacific Street uncovered.

8 and 9). 12:00 am

The same red and white trucks, or two more, travel down Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th uncovered. The first video shows them traveling down the street and the second entering the Barclays Center site. These trucks either left the construction site uncovered, or reached this location by traveling down a street that is not a designated truck route like Carlton Avenue or Dean Street. Hunt, not McKissack, is the supervising contractor for the arena work.

Click on the link to see the photographic and video backup for these observations.

link

Posted by steve at 10:18 PM

August 13, 2011

Errant trucks around Atlantic Yards site represent yet more violations of environmental/construction rules; time for state to respond

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday morning, I cited, via Atlantic Yards Watch, continuing violations of environmental/truck rules at the Atlantic Yards site.

Last night, Atlantic Yards Watch compiled many more such violations, in Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and/or Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements are documented today before noon:

Nine violations by trucks of the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and/or Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements were documented before noon today. The filer was stationary and only captured those incidents within the visual range of his/her location. The times below are from the incident reports.

They include:

A flatbed truck delivering steel idles under the windows of Newswalk's residences on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues. The Barclays Center truck rules require trucks to wait on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt

Two trucks, one red and one white, travel Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues uncovered.

A truck leaves the railyard entrance on Atlantic Avenue near Carlton and turns onto Clermont Avenue. Clermont appears to be regularly used by trucks from this entrance gate, but it is not a designated truck route.

What's next?

It's time for Empire State Development, the state agency that oversees this project and has taken apparently inadequate measures to address such violations, to respond promptly and directly to these reports.

Either these reports are off-base or, if they are valid (as it sure seems), the state should tell the public what additional measures it will take.

link

Posted by steve at 11:19 PM

Catching Up With AY Rats

CBS New York, Brooklyn Residents Cry Foul Over Rats At Atlantic Yards

Residents in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn blame Bruce Ratner and his massive Atlantic Yards dig for a problem they say they never had before — rats.

“What an unfortunate coincidence, since that’s his name,” said one woman.

Giant rats are apparently getting into peoples’ homes and cars.

“Engines deteriorated as a result of rodent infestation,” said councilwoman Letitia James, who says they are munching on the garbage.

Now, the Forest City Ratner company has decided to give out hundreds of rat-proof trash cans to a small part of the neighborhood.

“I’m sort of disappointed…that, in fact, the boundaries are so limited,” James told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman.

One neighbor called it far too little, much too late.

“It’s a deal that stinks,” she said.

“It looks like now they’re at least making some attempt to reach out,” replied Silverman. “It seems like you don’t buy it.”

“No I don’t,” she answered.

Fox New York, Rats Invade Neighborhood Near Atlantic Yards Project

Brooklyn residents are experiencing rats in Prospect Heights and blame the Atlantic Yards development as the source.

Residents blame real estate developer Bruce Ratner and his massive Atlantic Yards project for a problem as they say they never had rats before.

Locals say giant rats are apparently getting into homes and cars and according to Councilwoman Letitia James they are going through the garbage.

Ratner’s real estate company plans to distribute hundreds of rat-proof trash cans to a small part of the neighborhood although residents feel that it’s too late to solve the problem.

Posted by steve at 10:57 PM

August 12, 2011

Atlantic Yards "flying up"? On Brian Lehrer, a weak update

Atlantic Yards Report

The arena's rising, sure, but the development is not flying up in the slightest.

Guest host Jami Floyd, who displayed the unfortunate tendency to laugh at things not so funny, like the rat problem around the Atlantic Yards site. Guest Brown suggested, erroneously, that Chinese investors seeking green cards for purportedly job-creating investments  were investing "in the arena."

As I commented, they're investing in something called the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project," which is replacing a land loan and will go to infrastructure (and possibly other things).

Of course potential investors were told they were investing in the arena, but that was deceptive.

link

Posted by eric at 9:50 AM

Bruce Ratner — taking on rats!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

Bruce Ratner is taking out the trash!

The Atlantic Yards developer on Monday will begin doling out heavy-duty covered garbage cans to Prospect Heights residents who have claimed that his Atlantic Yards mega-project has brought freakishly large rats to their streets.

The move comes one month after the company promised to reimburse infuriated locals for rat-proof cans.
...

Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) said she was disappointed that Ratner’s offer doesn’t extend beyond the immediate neighborhood to Fort Greene, but Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, said that this is the first time he can remember that Ratner has accommodated a community request.

“Let’s hope they understand they have an ongoing obligation for the length of the project,” he said. “This is only a first step.”

article

Posted by eric at 9:42 AM

As trucks continue to violate Atlantic Yards environmental commitments and NYC law, signs emerge that methods for coordinating trucks are changing

Atlantic Yards Watch

Construction trucks at the Atlantic Yards construction site have repeatedly violated the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements and NYC law.  Clarification of truck routes and enforcement were on the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet agenda July 14th, but the meeting ended before the subject was covered.  

Since Saturday July 30th, this website has received ten more incident reports, (all public here), related either to trucks driving the wrong route, driving against traffic, waiting in travel lanes or bus stops, leaving the construction site uncovered, or idling.  Among the streets documented on this website impacted by insufficient coordination of delivery trailers and trucks are Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues, Carlton Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets, Dean Street, South Portland Avenue, and Clermont Avenue.
...

Perhaps through pressure from ESD, discernible changes are being made to the way trucks are coordinated at the site.  The changes appear to have been in place for several weeks, but to date have not altered the pace or types of truck violations occurring at the construction site.

article

Posted by eric at 7:28 AM

August 11, 2011

The mysteries of after-hours work at the arena site: do people live nearby? (yes, but most permits say "no") and what's the rationale? (not made public)

Atlantic Yards Report

Since February, contractors at the Atlantic Yards arena block have 36 times gained after-hours variance (AHV) permits for work at the Atlantic Yards arena block, according to documents available via the Department of Buildings (DOB) web site.

Nine of those instances regarded weekday work that began early or went to a second shift, and 27 regarded weekend work. No 24-hour variance has been granted yet, though the July 18 Construction Update, prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and issued by the Empire State Development Corporation, suggested one might be sought.

Lingering questions

According to the online versions of those permits--the site is known as 620 Atlantic Avenue or 2-6 Fifth Avenue--two things stood out:

  • Arena builder Hunt Construction, more than three-quarters of the time, apparently stated that there were no residences within 200 feet of the site. (Yes, there are--see photo below by Tracy Collins, looking west from the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. As discussed below, Hunt asserts that the permits it files always acknowledge there are residences within 200 feet. Without seeing the original documents, that statement will remain a question mark.)
  • No rationale for the after-hours work was publicly provided. Yes, applications to the DOB must contain such a rationale, but apparently the DOB does not make that information public.

I tried to learn more, but didn't get too far.

Click the link to follow Norman Oder down the rabbit hole of the Department of Buildings.

article

NoLandGrab: Since every one of the few applications that actually disclosed the proximity of nearby residences was granted anyway, why does the DOB bother to ask?

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

August 10, 2011

Atlantic Yards Developer Looks To Trash Rodent Concerns

NY1

A more accurate headline might be "Atlantic Yards Developer Looks To 'Do Least Amount Possible To Address' Rodent Concerns."

The developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is looking to fight rodents in the area by giving out heavy duty trash cans to local residents.

Forest City Ratner is providing the cans in response to community complaints about a boom in the rat population in and around the construction site.

The developer says a review of work in the area found garbage in the neighborhood that was not being properly thrown out.

article

NoLandGrab: That's right, slovenly Prospect Heights residents, the problem isn't the rats — it's YOU! Learn how to throw out your trash! Thank goodness the munificent Bruce Ratner is going to spring (with your money) for new trash cans.

Posted by eric at 5:59 PM

Latest consultant's report: 370 workers on the job (fewer than Forest City Ratner's numbers); arena still ahead of schedule (but lingering schedule issues?)

Atlantic Yards Report

The jobs reality is a little different than what Forest City told the Amsterdam News.

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 8/5/11 and based on a 6/23/11 visit and documents made available 7/25/11, the Barclays Center remains one month ahead of schedule and the transit connection remains two months ahead of schedule.

The estimate, based on cash flow, comes in a report prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

As I wrote 7/22/11 regarding the previous report, some items should provoke further inquiry, such as a discrepancy between the number of workers reported and the number reported by Forest City Ratner.

Also, there may be a lingering dispute about the schedule.

Workers on site: 370 vs. Ratner's numbers

There seem to be fewer workers on site than Forest City Ratner has reported.

article

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

August 9, 2011

New: late work at the railyard through this week

Atlantic Yards Report

At 5:40 pm today, I received an announcement from the Empire State Development Corporation:

This is a Supplemental Report to the previously issued two week look-ahead regarding upcoming construction activities at Atlantic Yards covering the period of August 1 – August 14, 2011

The following section has been modified to include new information:

Yard
New Information: work related to the installation of low head room mini piles within the car shop on the north east end of the yard. Work is preparatory work related to the structural support for the car shop roof which is located below Atlantic Avenue. The work will be done fully within the confines of the yard and will be monitored by both the LIRR and The McKissack Group. Work will take place during the hours of 3 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. commencing Tuesday, August 9th and continuing through this reporting period.

In other words, it began before it was announced.

link

Posted by eric at 6:14 PM

ESDC: new process to crack down on errant truckers began Friday; none have received "two strikes;" no answer to question about systemic problem

Atlantic Yards Report

I got some but not all answers today to questions posed last Friday regarding the Empire State Development Corporation's new plan to crack down on truckers who leave the railyard site uncovered.

My questions begin after the bullet points, and the ESDC's answers are interpolated:

  • When did the process go into effect?

Last Friday, August 5.

  • Is this one contractor, or more than one?

McKissack -- the site of the problem.

  • Have any truckers been removed? Are those individual drivers, or subcontractors?

No truckers have been removed because none have received two strikes.

  • And isn't it systemic, in a sense: if "Outgoing trucks shall be inspected at the gate," as per the environmental commitments memo, it seems to me there should be some leverage over the firm as a whole, not just the drivers. Does the firm, or whoever's in charge of inspections, face any penalties?

[No answer was received.]

link

Posted by eric at 3:51 PM

From Atlantic Yards Watch: at the Dean Street Playground, an adult interloper with a reflector vest

Atlantic Yards Report

This report on Atlantic Yards Watch from August 5, at 2:06 pm, does not describe the most significant local impact from construction, but it's still telling.

A construction worker, obviously looking for a place to rest (likely post-shift), planted himself on a bench at the Dean Street Playground half a block east of the arena site.

The worker's vest identified him as working for an arena site subcontractor, and I'm told by the AY Watch contributor this was one of a number of similar episodes at the playground.

No adults allowed without kids

However, as the sign indicates, playground rules prohibit adults except in the company of children. (And sometimes cops ticket people for violating the rule, as in this episode in June at a park in Bed-Stuy.)

link

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

August 5, 2011

Not isolated incidents: via Atlantic Yards Watch, more trucks seen to leave project site with material uncovered

Atlantic Yards Report

Though the Empire State Development Corporation on July 22 suggested that a truck leaving the Atlantic Yards site with its contents uncovered was an "isolated incident," the evidence, thanks to Atlantic Yards Watch, continues to mount that it wasn't.
...

On July 25, I wrote about how there appear to have been three additional violations that previous week.

On July 26, I cited three additional episodes over the course of two days.

The latest

Yesterday, two more instances were posted on Atlantic Yards Watch.

link

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

August 4, 2011

Labor ripples: concrete workers agree to negotiate through August 16; carpenters agree to strke if new contract not reached by August 15

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's New York Business today, Concrete workers return, but carpenters OK strike:

Concrete workers, who walked off their jobs at the World Trade Center and other sites Monday, agreed to return to work Thursday and extended their deadline for a new deal to August 16...

Meanwhile, delegates of the second largest construction union in the city, the 25,000-member District Council of Carpenters, voted unanimously Wednesday night to authorize their union to strike if agreement on a new contract isn't reached by Aug. 15...

Workers picketed outside the Atlantic Yards arena site on Monday, August 1, but did not do so on Tuesday.

link

Posted by eric at 10:05 PM

Concrete workers ordered back to work, including at arena site, but union said to plan appeal

Atlantic Yards Report

From Crain's New York Business today, Ruling: Some WTC workers can't strike: An arbitrator late Tuesday ordered striking concrete workers back to their jobs at four sites across the city, ruling that their walkout violated a no-strike provision in labor agreements covering the projects.

The order covered walkouts at Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, World Trade Center Tower 2 and a luxury residential development on West 57th Street. A separate hearing is set for later today on the walkout at a new Weill Cornell Medical College research center on East 69th Street.

...A source close to the building trades said the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council would appeal the ruling. The source said the union's counsel was not properly notified about Tuesday's hearing and therefore did not know about it in time to show up. Had officials known about the hearing, they would have argued that the no-strike provision was no longer in effect because the workers' contract expired at the end of June.

link

Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

August 2, 2011

With demolition of a family shelter, the last existing residences in the Atlantic Yards footprint will be eliminated

Atlantic Yards Watch

Forest City Ratner Company is in the process of demolishing 603 Dean Street, one half of the 94 unit residential family shelter formerly known as the Pacific Dean Annex. The shelter's residences are the last to be demolished in the project footprint.

In the 2006 FEIS, the ESDC estimated 171 residential units and 410 residents would be directly displaced by the project. That number did not include the shelter's family residences.
...

When it was closed in January 2010, the public was told the shelter would be demolished soon thereafter. Residents were given roughly a month to move during the Christmas holiday period. According to shelter officials at the time, no relocation assistance was provided to the shelter residents by the developer. BrooklynSpeaks sponsors raised funds to alleviate moving costs for the families.

link

Video: N. Wayne Bailey

Posted by eric at 11:08 PM

Concrete workers still negotiating with Cement League; no pickets this morning at Atlantic Yards site

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, there was a job action outside the Atlantic Yards arena, with workers holding picket signs and refusing to work, though no official strike has been called.

When I visited the site at about 9 am today, there were no pickets. Does that mean they were back at work? I don't know for sure, but will update when I know more.

article

Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

Progress Moves Along at the Barclays Center

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

Installation on the arena’s sfaçade has begun and work on the arena’s frame is nearly complete. Demolition and excavation still continues on the Long Island Railroad/Vanderbilt Yard side of the site.

link

Photo: Kristen V. Brown

Posted by eric at 10:58 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: more late shifts, plus a plan to begin deliveries at 6 am through the entire arena construction period

Atlantic Yards Report

Feeling like life is dull around the Atlantic Yards footprint, and things are a little too sleepy for your liking? Consider your prayers answered by the "angel sent from God."

According to the latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Update (below, dated August 1) and prepared by developer Forest City Ratner and issued by the Empire State Development, there exists significant potential for second- and third-shift work at around the project site.

Also, the main contractor, Hunt Construction, has requested a permit to allow for deliveries to the arena site beginning at 6 am, rather than at 7 am, though arena completion in fall 2012. The rationale?

This work allows for an additional hour of deliveries to take place outside the neighborhood peak traffic patterns and reduce congestion and interference with the local traffic. The permit response is expected to be received this period. If granted, the intention is to continue to permit deliveries during this timeframe through to completion of the Arena.

There's certainly a logic, from the construction standpoint, since it would speed work. However, given that trucks can be noisy, and have idled in the neighborhood before official delivery hours, such a change could lead to significant disruption in the lives of neighbors.

That plan was not disclosed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

article

Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

Atlantic Yards Watch: Tracking Daily Impacts

Urban Omnibus
by Norman Oder

In April 2006, recognizing how blogs had sprung up in response to the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, The New York Times suggested the development “may well be the first large-scale urban real estate venture in New York City where opposition has coalesced most visibly in the blogosphere.”

More than five years later, Atlantic Yards continues to provoke web innovation, with the advent of Atlantic Yards Watch, not a platform for opposition but a self-described “community-based initiative to protect the health and livability of neighborhoods” impacted by the now-under-construction Barclays Center arena and the planned 16 towers. While the arena is the only project building under construction, demolition, utility and railyard work continue, as well as construction staging and development of a massive surface parking lot.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Urban Omnibus: Atlantic Yards Watch: Tracking Daily Impacts

Posted by eric at 1:07 PM

Incident Report Saturday documents steel deliveries to Barclays Center that ignore ESDC's published truck regulations and appear to violate NYC law

Atlantic Yards Watch

Another day, another example of Forest City's utter disregard for the law.

The video above from Saturday shows a Barclays Center construction-related truck disobeying both NYC traffic laws and the ESDC's published truck rules on Pacific Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton. The truck crosses the 6th Avenue intersection while the north/south traffic on 6th Avenue has a green light, attaches a load waiting in the travel lane and then drives against traffic to block 1129.

This one truck trip is part of a series of steel deliveries on Saturday that were not consistent with either the Barclays Center Truck Rules and Requirements made public by the ESDC, or NYC traffic law.

article

Posted by eric at 12:28 PM

August 1, 2011

Concrete Workers Strike at Atlantic Yards

The workers picketed in front of the site as part of a citywide concrete strike.

Park Slope Patch
By Kristen V. Brown

For the second time in less than a week, on Monday morning construction workers rallied outside the looming Barclays Center construction site.

About half of the 25 union concrete workers from the Atlantic Yards site picketed at the site entrance at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, joining a citywide strike that members of the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council have threatened ever since the contract covering the workers expired on July 1.

Since then, cement workers have continued work at the Atlantic Yards site without a contract, pouring the site’s concrete floors, but today they said “enough.”

“We’re going to stand out here as long as it takes,” said one union member, who declined to give his name due to fears of retaliation. “They don’t want to let us work for a decent wage.”

article

Posted by eric at 10:46 PM

Citywide concrete workers strike affects Atlantic Yards arena; job action apparently delays pouring of superstructure concrete

Atlantic Yards Report

Hmm, maybe Forest City will (need to) hire some of those guys protesting at the arena site last week after all.

A long-threatened citywide strike of concrete workers began this morning, including picketers at the Atlantic Yards site, thus apparently stalling some critical work on the arena, notably the pouring of superstructure concrete.

About a dozen workers picketed, and a representatives said they were about half the 25 union concrete workers at the site, down from a peak of nearly 50.

It was the second job action in less than a week outside the gate to the Barclays Center site at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street, Last week, in an unrelated event, mostly non-union workers condemned the lack of local hiring and contracting.

Forest City Ratner may have special interest in ensuring that the strike gets settled, or an agreement is reached with the contractor for this job site. The arena, unlike an office residential building, must open by the fall of 2012 for the NBA season. (As of now, it's ahead of schedule, but weather and unpredictable events such as strikes could cause delays.)

article

Posted by eric at 2:21 PM

July 28, 2011

Signs stating sections of Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street will be closed July 30-31 and August 6-7 from 8 am to 4 pm are incorrect; there will be no closures this weekend

Atlantic Yards Watch

Atlantic Yards Watch has corrected the street-closing information it posted earlier today.

The new temporary closures were due to renovations on the Newswalk building, not Atlantic Yards. Apparently, the closures have been suspended for this upcoming weekend because the contractor failed to meet public notification requirements. When further information is available, it will be posted here.

article

NoLandGrab: We're sticking with our original theory, however — Bruce Ratner is throwing neighborhood residents the block party to end all block parties. In fact, it's likely to be a superblock party.

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

July 27, 2011

The mound at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue is finally "slimed" with green protective covering

Atlantic Yards Watch

Yesterday, roughly a month after a mostly uncovered large mound of dirt appeared on block 1129, an incident report to this site reports "the mound was "slimed" with green stuff." The green stuff is presumably a protective covering to inhibit dust.

The photographs submitted with the report show one portion of the mound still covered with plastic and another with a slightly unnatural green hue.

Early this month this site reported that improper custodianship of the mound appeared to violate numerous commitments in the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. Since that time, ESDC has told this writer they continued to "reprimand" the contractor to ensure the dust pile is covered or wetted frequently, and that they requested an air monitor be placed near the pile to ensure air is not compromised.

link

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

Complaints about extended hours work continue, and new sources of construction noise at night and on weekends may be on their way

Atlantic Yards Watch

A wonderful night's sleep, brought to you by the letters F, C and R.

Complaints about late night and after hours construction work continue to reach this website. The video above, (which reached this site indirectly), was filmed at 1:30 am at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Bergen Street.

Complaints about permitted late night work on the project date back to the extended infrastructure work that took place on Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue in 2008 and caused substantial discomfort to many living in the vicinity. The earliest illegal after hours work inside the footprint dates to the spring of 2007, only a short time after work on the project began.

The sources of the complaints relate to an expanding list of types of work scheduled at night and on weekends. The affected residential areas are dispersed throughout the perimeter of the 22 acre project site.

In the meantime, new potential sources of late night noise may soon be added.

article

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

This weekend, extended work at the Atlantic Yards site related to the removal of underground storage tanks

Atlantic Yards Report

According to a Supplemental Report to the Empire State Development Corporation's previously issued two week Construction look–ahead regarding July 18-July 31, 2011, extended work--on evenings and weekends--will be needed to remove underground storage tanks from a former gas station at the eastern end of the site, near Pacific Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

link

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

July 26, 2011

"Isolated incident"? Two more instances yesterday (and one today) of trucks leaving Atlantic Yards site with contents uncovered, violating environmental commitments memo

Atlantic Yards Report

OK, it's time to shut this construction site down until they can demonstrate even the smallest shred of competence.

Though the Empire State Development Corporation last week suggested that a truck leaving the Atlantic Yards site with its contents uncovered--a violation of an environmental commitments memo signed by developer Forest City Ratner--was an "isolated incident," the evidence is mounting that it wasn't.

Yesterday I wrote about how there appear to have been three additional episodes last week.

Beyond that, the incidents continued, as new photos were posted on Atlantic Yards Watch yesterday morning and afternoon, as well as this morning.

Click thru for yet more photographic evidence.

article

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

Meeting Held About Atlantic Yards Rodent Problem

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Eagle has landed... on this story a couple weeks behind everybody else.

Last week, Councilwoman Letitia James, representatives from Councilman Steve Levin’s and state Senator Velmanette Montgomery’s offices and other community leaders met with representatives of the Empire State Development Corp., city agencies and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCR) at a meeting in Brooklyn.

The meeting’s focus was on rodent infestation, which has become a serious concern in the Atlantic Yards footprint and surrounding community.

Recently, neighbors of Dean Street near the Atlantic Yards project have reported cat-size rats and an uptick in the rat population. Many have expressed concerns about the rodent population’s increase in the neighboring homes and streets surrounding the construction site.

Many people say that rats have not been a problem until the arena’s construction, while others have referred to it as a “rat tsunami.”

article

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

July 25, 2011

Three more instances last week in which trucks drove off railyard site with contents uncovered, violating agreement regarding dust suppression measures

Atlantic Yards Report

If the people building, and supporting the building of, Atlantic Yards are too dumb or lazy or uncaring to properly cover a dump truck, how do we expect them to manage far more complex challenges like traffic and parking?

OK, the Empire State Development Corporation told me that a July 19 episode, in which a dump truck existed the railyard site without any tarp over the dirt, "appears to be an isolated incident."

However, as posted on Atlantic Yards Watch and in the photos below, on July 18 there were three separate instances in which trucks approached or left the railyard site with their contents uncovered. The trucks are on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

All instances violate the December 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, a contract in which Forest City Ratner "shall require its contractors to implement dust suppression measures....

Click thru for photographic evidence.

link

Posted by eric at 12:37 PM

July 23, 2011

From Atlantic Yards Watch: a truck leaves the railyard site, gets wheels washed for dust, but dirt remains uncovered; state calls it "isolated incident"

Atlantic Yards Report

As reported by a sharp-eyed Prospect Heights resident on Atlantic Yards Watch, on 7/19/11, at 1:20 pm, a dump truck leaving the railyard site got its wheels washed, but exited without any tarp over the dirt.

That violates the December 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (text below), a contract signed with the Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC).

Official response?

Yesterday I queried the ESDC regarding what steps or penalties might be taken in response.

"ESD and its consultants are aware of the issue, which appears to be an isolated incident," responded spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell. "We have made clear our expectation that these project requirements be strictly enforced to reduce the possibility of violations and have been assured of increased attention to this matter."

That sounds like: if you do it again, we'll slap your wrist, but you're OK for now.

The truck heads out

The wheels are washed

The truck exits, uncovered

link

Posted by steve at 10:05 PM

July 22, 2011

Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule (but lingering schedule issues?), 320 workers on the job (fewer than FCR's report)

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 6/30/11 and based on a 6/1/11 visit, based on cash flow, the Barclays Center remains is one month ahead of schedule and the transit connection remains two months ahead of schedule.

The report is prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

There are a few items that should provoke further inquiry, such as a discrepancy between the number of workers reported and the number reported by Forest City Ratner, and a discrepancy regarding the percentages of minority- and women-owned contractors.

Those discrepancies might be explained by a report from the Independent Compliance Monitor (ICM) required by the Community Benefits Agreement, but no ICM has been hired.

Also, there may be a lingering dispute about the schedule.

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Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

Working the overnight shift at the arena site: questions posed (and pending), but Final EIS disclosed possibility

Atlantic Yards Report

So, will there be a first-ever third shift at the Atlantic Yards site? If so, why? And what kind of safeguards would there be?

I haven't gotten answers yet.

Questions posed

The latest Construction Alert issued on July 18 by the Empire State Development Corporation (and prepared by developer Forest City Ratner) indicates that "subject to receipt of permits, a third shift may be instituted during this reporting period, from 11 PM – 7 AM, Monday – Friday only."

(There have been no previous third shifts for arena construction, but there have long been some disruptive overnight shifts regarding utility work at the boundaries of the project. For example, see this video.)

Some readers asked me about this, so I queried the Empire State Development Corporation about it, and was told to ask Forest City. (The ESDC said in June that working a second shift "ensures maximum productivity.")

So I asked the developer for the rationale for the third shift, and the safeguards planned.

And I asked the Department of Buildings if a permit had been granted, and what safeguards would be required.

Both sets of queries are pending.

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

July 19, 2011

Rats on the run at Atlantic Yards?

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

Rat-plagued residents of Prospect Heights will get relief from the rodent infestation caused by the Atlantic Yards project — courtesy of the developer himself.

Bruce Ratner’s company announced last week that it would reimburse residents for rat-proof garbage cans in response to criticism from neighbors who claim that construction of the Barclays Center arena has spawned a booming, out-of-control rodent population that is feasting on unprotected sidewalk trash.

“It’s a good step, but it’s one piece of the puzzle,” said Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association.
...

But Tracy Collins, who lives on Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, said he’s worried that the problem will return once the Barclays Center starts welcoming throngs of basketball fans — and the litter they leave behind.

“It’s going to last for who knows how long,” he said.

article

Posted by eric at 9:17 AM

Barclays Tours Intended to Amaze

NetsDaily

The Nets fan site wallows in its warped triumphalism.

In the latest tour of Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner tells the Times, "Sometimes I look at it and I am amazed we all got there." That is of course the point of the tours that are now weekly or even more frequent. Despite impediments, and the Times lists them all, there is now evidence, in bright orange hues, that it's all very real, amazing actually.

The arena' critics can complain about the dust or the "rat tsunami" or the illegal parking or revel in their (limited) court victory last week, of which the Times takes its first notice. Doesn't matter much.

link

NoLandGrab: "Amazing?" It's a basketball arena. That's turning your neighborhood upside down. But at least fan-bloggers are happy.

Posted by eric at 9:09 AM

July 18, 2011

Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet focuses on rats; FCRC commits to providing vouchers to residents for garbage cans

Atlantic Yards Watch

Speaking of community complaints...

The Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet Thursday, July 14th was largely dedicated to the rodent problem in the vicinity of the project. At the meeting Forest City Ratner committed to providing community residents a voucher to get a free garbage can.

More details of the program, including the type of can and the specific area the program will be available, will be made public in a week or so.

In addition, at the instigation of Council Member Letitia James, the NYC Department of Health, the NYC Department of Sanitation and ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin are working together to identify a strategy to address the full range of problems in and around the project site.

link

Posted by eric at 7:16 PM

From the latest Construction Alert: more late shifts (and a possible overnight one); new dispatch center, dust control seem responses to documented complaints for trucks

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest two-week Atlantic Yards Construction Alert, dated 7/18/11 and embedded below, contains several things worth noting, including mention of a possible third (overnight) shift at the arena site, plus two mitigation measures that seem to be responding to recently documented community complaints.

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Posted by eric at 7:12 PM

July 13, 2011

Video and photography show dump trucks lining Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton this morning

Atlantic Yards Watch

Video and photographs showing dump trucks lining Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues were attached to incident reports submitted to this website this morning.

The two videos, titled "5:45 am Atlantic Yards/FCR no flaggers + illegal idling," and the photographs show a line of trucks waiting underneath the 170 unit Newswalk building to enter one of the Barclays Center truck entrances at Pacific Street and 6th Avenue.

The trucks are lining up on the wrong block of Pacific Street. The video and photography illustrates an ongoing problem long brought to the attention of ESDC and FCRC. If the protocols outlined in the Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Requirements for the use of a flagger at Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street are not kept, the public Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues quickly becomes an extension of the construction site. The goal of the use of a flagger in this location is to avoid trucks lining up on this block.

The complaint details the trucks lining up for an hour beginning at 5:45 am, and the photos contain time tags placing them between 6:10 and 6:37 am. NYC law allows idling for no more than 3 minutes. Construction hours for the Barclays Center begin at 7:00 am.

link

NoLandGrab: Is it possible that everyone building this mess, from the ESDC and Bruce Ratner down to the guys filling and driving dump trucks, are just a bunch of incompetent dumbasses?

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

Yet two more documented incidents this morning serve as a reminder proper construction practices have to be implemented at all times

Atlantic Yards Watch

An uncovered dump truck apparently transferring sifted dirt from block 1129 travelled down Pacific Street this morning. Dump trucks are supposed to be inspected to ensure they are covered before they leave the work site.

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Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

Renewed union contracts did not address modular construction, but that's not seen as blocking modular towers at the Atlantic Yards site

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on a recent post by "union radical Gregory Butler, on his Gangbox News blog":

I asked Butler if that meant no modular [construction] at Atlantic Yards--which would include subsidized units and luxury units--and he said no.

"As far as there being a broader move, that didn't happen," Butler said. "But if [Ratner] pushes it, it's almost certain to happen. They've never stopped people from doing prefab."

article

Related coverage...

Gangbox News, Unshared Sacrifice

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

SHoP Architects' Gregg Pasquarelli Understands More Than Anyone Else, Almost

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

SHoP Architects' Gregg Pasquarelli, the guy who rendered the traffic-less George Foreman grill at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, gave a talk recently. He must love irony as much as Bruce Ratner does:

Are Architects Performance Artists? A Conference Addresses "Performativity"
By Jonathan Liu. New York Observer

"We understand more than anyone else on the job site," Gregg Pasquarelli told a second-floor conference room one recent Thursday evening inside the New School's Arnhold Hall.

His audience peered at him through a remarkable selection of eyewear—surely the most impressive array of cantilevers, arches and trusswork west of the East River. "We truly do," he reiterated. "We know more than the developer, we know more the contractor, we know more than the inspector, we know more than the guy installing something. We know a lot about all the stuff. It's the integrator and the communicator role that's the most important thing: We don't build buildings, we make instruction sets for buildings."
...

Well, with all of his highfalutin, self-congralutory archy-speak, surely Mr. Pasquarelli also understands he is in bed with an ethically challenged developer, designing an ethically challenged project. Doesn't he?

link

Related coverage...

NY Observer, Are Architects Performance Artists? A Conference Addresses ‘Performativity’

We don't know if architects are performance artists, but some of them — especially those involved with Atlantic Yards — sure seem to be pseudo-intellectual blowhards.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

July 12, 2011

As Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting approaches Thursday, Atlantic Yards Watch keeps track

Atlantic Yards Report

I got an email this morning from a Prospect Heights resident telling me--without detail--that construction on the Atlantic Yards site was continuing at 12:30 a.m.

The second shift at the arena site is only supposed to go to 11 p.m., however. I suggested that she contact Atlantic Yards Watch, which has a link for reporting incidents. It's unrelated to this blog--which is aimed at reportage, analysis, and commentary--and set up to maintain an archive of reports.

In fact, Atlantic Yards Watch stands as a daily response to those, like the Empire State Development Corporation's Arana Hankin, who say they're not sufficiently informed of community complaints.

A few of the latest are below, concerning parking and dust.

AY District Service Cabinet

Every two months--it used to be three--representatives of developer Forest City Ratner, the ESDC, the three affected Community Boards, city agencies, and others meet at Borough Hall for a meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet.

The meeting this week is Thursday at 9:30 a.m. The meetings are open to the public and press, but, curiously enough, not advertised. Nor is videotaping permitted.

Visitors cannot ask questions but questions, including community complaints, can be submitted beforehand via the Community Boards, elected officials like Council Member Letitia James (who's generally the only person to publicly challenge the developer/state), and the Borough President's Office.

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Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

Dust for workers and possibly the community from work in the railyard today

Atlantic Yards Watch

Dust from excavation and trucks in the railyard is visible in this photo submitted with an incident report today. Dust suppression measures are supposed to be put in place in order to protect air quality for workers on the project and the community nearby. The Amended Environmental Commitments Memo states:

FCRC shall require its contractors to implement dust suppression measures including the following:

iii. Watering unpaved surfaces, including haul roads and excavation faces. All unpaved haul roads and excavation surfaces shall be continuously watered by watering trucks or constant misting, so that surfaces remain damp at all times when in use during construction. Gravel cover shall be applied to unpaved surfaces which are regularly traveled."

link

Photo: AtlanticYardsWatch

Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

Correction: At the Atlantic Yards site (and others), a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) would have averted a strike

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote July 1 that a last-minute pact averted a citywide strike of construction workers, citing news reports that indicated a strike could have stopped work at the Atlantic Yards site.

Not so. The arena construction, and the rest of the work, is governed by a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), which, as Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC) reminded members, includes a no strike/no-lock out clause.

Here's a list of such projects.

As one commenter on the Local157 blog pointed out, informational picketing would be permitted.

link

Posted by eric at 9:46 AM

July 11, 2011

The Day: Barclays Center Progress

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Susan A. Rohwer

NY1 recently took a tour of the Barclays Center and the project’s residential tower with developer Bruce Ratner who talked about the construction progress. According to the piece, Mr. Ratner says things are on schedule for an opening next summer. Brownstowner also weighed in, citing a story by The Times from March that reported that the developer must start excavation on the tower by May 2013 “or pay up to $5 million in penalties for every year it falls behind.” There was no update on whether or not the tower will be prefabricated, as The Times reported in the March article.

link

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Ratner Talks Atlantic Yards ETAs

Posted by eric at 12:29 PM

July 10, 2011

A rather strange sign at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue: 620 Atlantic Avenue

Atlanitc Yards Report

This is the northwest corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, the home, as of spring 2010, of Freddy's Bar & Backroom and other buildings.

And now

Below is what it looks like now, shot from a somewhat closer perspective. (The construction fence takes up the sidewalk.)

Why does the construction fence bear the address of 620 Atlantic Avenue, which is two blocks to the north and one block to the west (and the former address of the Underberg Building)? Because that's apparently the official address of the arena under construction.

link

Posted by steve at 5:37 PM

July 9, 2011

Atlantic Yards Watch Tracks Parking Mess

Photos show locations and strategies for illegal construction worker parking on July 7th

The following photos show the locations and strategies of Atlantic Yards construction workers who park illegally in the vicinity of the project. All of these photos were taken between 1 pm and 2 pm on Thursday, July 7th.

...

Is it a funeral director or an iron worker? If it is a construction worker he or she has found an inventive way to get around parking regulations. This car was parked in a no standing zone on 6th Avenue immediately adjacent to the Barclays Center site.

NYPD apparently continues to selectively enforce the law; Illegal construction worker parking expands to Atlantic Avenue

Construction workers piggyback on the illegal parking of city employees associated with the NYPD 78th Precinct, FDNY 105 Ladder Company and HPD in the vicinity of the 78th Precinct. This is possible due to the apparent selective parking regulation enforcement of the NYPD in the area around the precinct.

Numerous 311 complaints from community members have been filed at this website about the issue. The pattern of the dispositions of the 311 complaints seem to show the police not finding a problem at the time they go to the locations reported in the complaints. In one case in which the disposition stated the police had corrected the problem, follow up from the filer showed the problem still in place.

Construction workers park illegally on sidewalks, in bus lanes and ignore parking regulations on Pacific Street, 6th Avenue, Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue. An estimated 20 to 30 construction worker cars parked illegally in the immediate area daily during the work week. Free parking for up to 40 construction worker cars is already provided inside the footprint by FCRC to construction workers on several locations on block 1129 and at the former location of the Carlton Avenue Bridge between blocks 1121 and 1120.

...

The Amended Environmental Commitments Memo details "FCRC shall provide on-site parking for construction workers at levels appropriate in light of the number of workers employed at the site during different stages of construction, to a maximum of 800 spaces. FCRC shall monitor the work force levels throughout the construction period and shall report to ESDC on a quarterly basis as to the number of on-site spaces and the utilization of such spaces. The parking facilities shall have perimeter fencing and shall be accessible only during work hours. Parking fees at rates comparable to commercial off-street facilities in the surrounding area shall be imposed for these spaces. FCRC shall consult with and obtain the approval of ESDC, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld, prior to reducing the number of construction worker spaces at the Project site as the number of workers changes and permanent parking locations within the Project site become available for construction worker parking."

At a joint meeting of the Dean Street Block Association and Carlton Avenue Association on June 28th covering traffic and pedestrian issues, the ESDC and FCRC responded to complaints about illegal construction worker parking by saying a formula is being used to determine when the commitments detailed above are to be put in place.

The formula apparently associates FCRC's obligation to meet their commitment to provide construction worker parking, with the availability of on-street parking in the vicinity of the project as outlined in a study from 2005 included in the project's FEIS. The ESDC and FCRC committed at the meeting to providing this formula to the meeting organizers.

During the meeting the ESDC and FCRC said the formula shows not enough workers are on site to necessitate the creation of a construction worker parking lot. This seems contradicted by the fact construction workers are creating their own illegal on-street parking spaces instead of parking in the available spaces the environmental analysis from 2005 says should exist, and that FCRC is already providing free parking.

It may be the case the free parking FCRC is providing on site for construction workers may not conform to, or even violates, what is outlined in the Amended Environmental Commitments Memo. FCRC is meant to provide parking at rates commensurate with nearby parking garages in order to avoid creating an artificial incentive for workers to drive to the site.

If FCRC created parking for a fee and the NYPD provided parking regulation enforcement, the illegal construction worker parking would likely significantly diminish.

Posted by steve at 6:08 PM

Signs for FCRC's Community Liaison Office are posted along the perimeter of the site

Atlantic Yards Watch

On Thursday signs identifying the location of FCRC's Community Liaison Office were posted along the perimeter of the project site. The signs do not include the hours the office will be open.

This follows a statement by Rachel Shatz of the ESDC that FCRC is in violation of the Amended Environmental Commitments Memo at a joint meeting of the Carlton Avenue Association and Dean Street Block Association on June 28th. At the meeting Brigitte LaBonte, FCRC's Community Liaison, stated that she is on site one or two days a week.

The commitments in the memo state, "FCRC shall maintain an on-site construction coordinator to function as a liaison between FCRC and the community with respect to construction-related issues. The coordinator shall be available to consider specific concerns raised by the community with respect to the construction issues and seek to resolve such concerns."

Amy Sara Clark of Prospect Heights Patch and Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report both highlighted Shatz's statement in their coverage of the meeting. In Clark's coverage FCRC promised change and said that the developer would have at least one person on site during working hours.

At points in the project, FCRC has described the Community Liaison as a "capacity" the company has rather than a person.

lilnk

Posted by steve at 6:06 PM

Lots of Parking Coverage

PIX 11, Atlantic Yards Double Parking Double Standard
By Monica Morales

The new Barclays center currently under construction in downtown Brooklyn is attracting illegal parking and bogus parking placards, complain long-time residents on Dean St.

"It's a double standard. Construction workers are getting away with illegal parking. They just put their orange vest on the dashboard and they don't get a ticket," said Peter Krashes, the President of the Dean St. Block Association.

PIX11 News found signs warning the illegal parking would be punished, but no sign of any tickets being distributed. PIX11 news found a parking placard on Atlantic Avenue for a funeral director.

"I think that is hilarious. Too bad the guy didn't take off his union sticker, that he is a construction worker," laughed Krashes.

The N.Y.P.D. spokesperson has said in the past, "Individuals found violating the parking restrictions in the area maybe subject to disciplinary action."

Calls to the Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency that oversees the project, were not returned.

Fox, NY, Parking Violations Around Atlantic Yards Site
By Ti-Hua Chang

Parking signs by the Atlantic Yards arena construction site say "No Standing Anytime." But the cars parked there do not have tickets.

The special passes, a day-glow vest on the dash letting police know the car belongs to a construction worker, police union cards, made-up placards of iron worker, and even funeral director.

A local resident took pictures of what he says are construction worker cars tripled parked on "No Standing" streets, cars blocking fire hydrants, and cars blocking people on the sidewalk -- yet not a parking ticket in sight.

The activist group Transportation Alternatives says it found 83 cars parked illegally without tickets. The group argues police have selective enforcement.

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, says cops don't ticket "their own" and other classes of people they have sympathy with, such as other union employees and construction workers.

The police department responded: "This is a false accusation from a special interest group."

But people in neighborhood say the illegal parking is out of control and no one wants to do anything about it.

The developer, Forest City Ratner, and New York's Empire State Development Corporation acknowledge an illegal parking problem exists around the construction but don't say what specifically they will do about it.

A spokesman for the developer said: "We have instructed contractors to tell their employees to obey all parking regulations. We've also spoken to NYPD about the issue."

The only tickets we did see were on cars parked by police spots by the police precinct one block away.

News 12, Atlantic Yards neighbors fuming over illegal parking

Residents who live near the Atlantic Yards construction site say they're fed up with cars parking illegally in the area.

They say construction workers blatantly ignore signs that forbid stopping, standing or parking along Dean Street. Parking rules, they say, are rarely enforced there.

Some cars in the area have police placards visible in their windshields. Local residents, however, point to a recent study by a transportation group that found many placards in the construction zone to be fraudulent.

Concerned neighbors have launched a website to document parking violations and other troubles they say the construction project is causing.

Posted by steve at 5:50 PM

July 8, 2011

MTA says upgraded Vanderbilt Yard is on schedule, but won't specify whether Forest City completed required construction documents by June 2011 deadline

Atlantic Yards Report

So, is the replacement Vanderbilt Yard--smaller, but modernized, and part of a 2009 deal to save Forest City Ratner significant sums--on schedule?

Yes, says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), but it looks like there are some question marks.

The requirements

According to page 7 of the MTA Staff Summary regarding the revised 2009 Vanderbilt Yard deal, Forest City Ratner was supposed to complete "100% Improved Yard construction documents by June 2011."

"Do you know if that has occurred?" I asked the MTA. "And, if so, does that mean that the permanent railyard is on schedule?"

"The project is on schedule," MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan responded. "Design and construction are being fast-tracked in stages, with North Portion of Permanent Yard already in construction."

Lingering questions

That didn't quite answer my question, so I followed up two days ago by asking if the documents had been completed. I also asked yesterday if there was a timetable for finishing the upgraded railyard.

I didn't get an answer, which leaves me wondering: Is Forest City changing the rules? In other words, is it moving ahead with the railyard but has not completed the construction documents?

I'd say it's a reasonable bet.

Updated: I got an answer this morning from Donavan: "I don’t know about the documents. The overall status is that permanent yard design and construction are being fast-tracked in stages to advance the overall development. The north portion of the permanent yard design was completed and construction started in January 2011, ahead of the required construction commencement deadline of June 30, 2012."

That's pretty confusing. The MTA should know.

link

Posted by eric at 12:11 PM

NY1 Exclusive: Barclays Center On Track To Open Next Summer

NY1
by Jeanine Ramirez

About half of the steel is now in place at the Barclays Center, as NY1 saw on a recent tour with developer Bruce Ratner.

"You see the piece all the way in the back — it's called the truss — that's going to be the beginning of the top of the arena,” said Ratner.

The roof is scheduled to be completed by winter. Many of the stands are already in place. It’s a dream finally becoming reality for Ratner, who has been planning to bring the Nets to Brooklyn since 2006.

"For all of us, it's a big whoosh moment,” said Ratner. “Something that's been long in coming."

article

NoLandGrab: The "whoosh" is actually the giant sucking sound of all the subsidies Bruce is collecting from the taxpayers. And Bruce has been "planning to Bring the Nets to Brooklyn" since 2003 — he had promised they'd be playing in Brooklyn in 2006.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, AY down the memory hole: NY1 reports Ratner's planned to bring the Nets since 2006

"It's the kind of access no one else has gotten," says NY1's Jeanine Ramirez self-congratulatingly, introducing a progress report headlined Barclays Center On Track To Open Next Summer.

(She lets Ratner wax enthusiastically about his deal with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, paying no heed to Michael Galinsky's essay, Don’t Let Atlantic Yards Developers Control the Narrative.)

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

July 7, 2011

Canadian truck carrying prefabricated Barclays Center seating blocks local street's bike lane while idling

Atlantic Yards Watch

A Canadian truck carrying prefabricated Barclays Center seating blocked the Dean Street bicycle lane at Vanderbilt Avenue for over an hour last night. The truck was headed to block 1129 where the seating is stored before being installed in the arena.

According to the local resident who supplied the video above, he first encountered the truck in the location shown in the video around 6:00 pm. The video was filmed over an hour later when he returned from dinner. At both times the truck was idling and sitting in the same place in the bicycle lane.

The truck was apparently violating NYC law. Not only is Dean Street not a NYCDOT designated truck route, in NYC trucks are only allowed to idle for 3 minutes. Blocking a bicycle lane is also not allowed.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Video from Atlantic Yards Watch: idling Canadian truck carrying arena seating, improperly using Dean Street, blocks bike lane for an hour

The need for an Atlantic Yards ombudsman--er, community relations manager--remains, as Prospect Heights residents continue to notice apparently improper construction activities.

Shouldn't someone official be proactively responding, telling us, You're wrong, this isn't a problem, or Thanks for pointing this out, we're taking action so it doesn't happen again?

Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

July 5, 2011

Barclays Center Revealed

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
By Kristen V. Brown

The Barclays Center is now truly flying up—in the past month, the sides of the basketball arena that the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets plan to call home in the 2012-2013 have been revealed, with almost all of the steel frame now in place. The concrete slabs that will make up the arena seating has begun to go into place. In the next two months, as installation of the façade kicks into high-gear, what was once merely a collection of steel girders and cranes will reveal the shape of the arena.

link

Photo: Kristen V. Brown

Posted by eric at 11:28 PM

Construction Update: Forest City and contractor Hunt are "considering" helping more with rat abatement

Atlantic Yards Report

From the two-week Construction Update (embedded below), dated 7/4/11, prepared by Forest City Ratner and distributed by the Empire State Development Corporation:

Hunt [Construction] and FCRC have reviewed and are considering actions to supplement the site and adjacent neighborhood’s rodent protection activities. Hunt has more than 225 rodent bait stations within the area work site and Block 1129 that are being monitored and maintained.

The issue, however, is the "rat tsunami" outside the project site. The developer has been pressured to do more and previously said it was considering doing so. Given that rat sightings proliferate, as I've been told, residents seek a solution sooner rather than later.

article

Posted by eric at 11:12 PM

July 3, 2011

Barclays Center contractor Laquila regularly sends trucks down local streets and passed Dean Playground

Atlantic Yards Watch

Illegal Atlantic Yards contructions truck on Dean from tracy collins on Vimeo.

In the last week construction trucks have been sighted regularly on Dean Street between 6th and Vanderbilt Avenues. A resident of Carlton Avenue from Dean to Pacific Streets also states trucks have lined up there early in the morning.

The trucks on Dean Street largely appear to be associated with Laquila, a contractor working on Barclays Center. Many trucks are loaded with gravel and travel past Dean Playground, down Dean Street to Vanderbilt, turn left on Vanderbilt and left again into the former Pacific Street. They may be delivering gravel to a site on block 1129 where the gravel is sifted and loaded back on trucks.

According to a driver interrupted mid-trip at the intersection of Dean Street and Carlton Avenue on Friday July 1st, no information has been provided to Laquila drivers about the routes to take from the arena block.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Lack of clarity about truck routes, rules and requirements may lead to unnecessary impacts for the local community

Besides recent complaints about truck traffic on Dean Street, this website has received multiple truck related complaints in the last two weeks including a flat bed truck idling twice in two consecutive days on Pacific Street between Underhill and Vanderbilt Avenues and cement trucks lining Dean Street between 5th and Flatbush Avenues. Another complaint located a stationary truck near an accident at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

Lack of clarity about truck routes, rules and requirements may lead to unnecessary impacts for the local community. Current Barclays Center Delivery Truck Rules and Requirements [PDF] rule out queing anywhere except Pacific Street from Vanderbilt to Carlton.

For months the truck requirements on the ESDC website have been out of date, and the information in the construction alerts released every two weeks has had little useful relationship to the actual configuration of truck entrances around the perimeter of the project.

Posted by eric at 6:48 PM

Does mostly uncovered mound of dirt on Block 1129 violate ESDC's Memorandum of Environmental Commitments?

Atlantic Yards Report

The Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments for the Atlantic Yards project states that "all stockpiled dry materials (e.g., sand, aggregate) shall be water-misted; sprayed with non-hazardous, biodegradable suppressing agent; covered; or otherwise enclosed." It also states "loading of any dry material which may release dust from trucks shall be accompanied by manual water spraying of the material," and that "a washing station shall be constructed for all truck exits."

However, according to Atlantic Yards Watch, none of these commitments appear to be met in the case of a mostly uncovered mound of dirt on block 1129 close to homes.

link

Posted by eric at 9:43 AM

July 1, 2011

Last-minute pact averts city-wide construction strike, avoids jeopardizing arena construction; was feared strike why double-shift construction began?

Atlantic Yards Report

Though no one admitted it, maybe it was the threatened--and just-averted--strike that led Forest City Ratner to go to double-shift construction at the Atlantic Yards arena site last month.

With contractors' and developers' concerns about construction costs driving discussion of contract renewals, a strike loomed today had not various construction unions agreed to renew contracts that expired yesterday--but a strike was averted as time nearly ran out.

The AP, via the Wall Street Journal, reports:

New York City crane operators have averted a strike after negotiations went down to the wire.

Louis Coletti of the Building Trade Employers Association says two unions representing crane operators, excavators and maintenance engineers agreed on a new contract late Thursday, less than two hours before their contracts expired.

Work could have been halted at World Trade Center sites and a new basketball arena in Brooklyn.

Other unions reached agreements earlier in the day, according to Crain's New York Business, but the operating engineers--from whom significant concessions were sought--control the cranes and thus are essential to any site progress.

article

Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

June 29, 2011

The Battle for Brooklyn: Deconstructing the Unions

The Icehouse Gang
by Kevin Baker

Unions in this country have historically raised the living standards of all Americans, but they’ve also done much, much more than that. No other major institution—certainly not the business community—has been as consistently altruistic, as supportive of causes that are not directly beneficial to itself, as the labor movement.
...

Not so much New York’s construction unions.

Sad to say, much like construction unions all over the United States, and for many decades now, the construction trades here have insisted on blindly supporting pretty much every single building project, no matter how awful an idea it is, and no matter who is going to be hurt by it.
...

Is there a project in your neighborhood that’s oversized, woefully ugly, dependent upon tearing down beloved local buildings, or threatening to destroy your community altogether? Don’t worry, New York’s construction unions are in favor of it, just so long as they can spend a few weeks or months flooding your community with workers who mostly don’t live there and won’t have to deal with the consequences.
...

By supporting the whole “pro-growth agenda” right down the line; by remaining bastions of white privilege, by pretending that there won’t always be sufficient construction activity in New York if they don’t endorse every single, odious land grab that comes along, the construction trades systematically undermine all attempts at building a better, more just, more sustainable New York.

And in the end, predictably enough, they screw over themselves as much as anyone.

article

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

The Good News About the Bad Construction News

NY Observer
by Tom Acitelli

The Building Congress yesterday came out with an understandably bleak construction report showing sluggish growth during the Great Recession in new office space, among other things, and not holding out too much hope for the rest of 2011. This year, in fact, will mark the first since 2000 with no new office tower opening.
...

It could have been worse, much worse.

One of the reasons it was not: New York City did not overbuild commercially during the boom.
...

Had that not been the case–had the last decade been one of barn-burner construction–vacancy rates could have been a lot higher, rents a lot lower, and, eventually, construction financing and jobs that much harder to come by. Why build more when there are empty towers everywhere? (Ever been to downtown Detroit?)

The city may as yet get its chance to have overbuilt, with the World Trade Center construction and the proposed Hudson Yards; and lesser commercial undertakings like Columbia’s West Harlem expansion and whatever finally, maybe, comes up commercial-wise with Atlantic Yards.

article

Posted by eric at 9:38 AM

June 28, 2011

Rats! Atlantic Yards site is full of rodents

The Brooklyn Paper
by Kate Briquelet

Neighbors of the Atlantic Yards project say that freakish, cat-sized rats coming from the construction site are invading their homes, gnawing on their cars, eating through garbage cans, and climbing up their legs.
...

Residents blamed the infestation on developer Forest City Ratner’s construction work in the Vanderbilt Yards, which will house the Barclays Center for the Brooklyn-bound Nets next fall.

Locals want developer Bruce Ratner to set bait beyond the perimeter of the construction site and buy high-neck metal garbage cans for their streets. Such cans are about $500 apiece, a minor expense for a developer of a $4.9-billion project. For instance, buying 20 of them would be a microscopic 0.0002 percent of the project’s cost.

A company spokesman would not comment on the trash receptacles, but said that the company has had a rodent control plan in place for two years that involves hiring an exterminator and setting and checking bait traps.

article

NoLandGrab: And that "rodent control plan" appears to have worked as well as their "opening-the-arena-in-2006 plan" and their "world-class Frank Gehry-design plan," among others.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Brooklyn Paper: DOH says bait applications for rat problems around arena site have jumped

The headline's a bit off, since the dispute is over whether Forest City Ratner will take control measures outside the site perimeter. But the newspaper did add some statistics that bolster the ample anecdotes:

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the department saw an increase in 311 complaints and increased its exterminations significantly in the ZIP codes on and near the project.

The department increased its bait applications from 190 in fiscal year 2010 to 313 in 2011 for the area directly around the arena.

To the east of the arena, bait applications jumped from 179 in 2010 to a whopping 501 in 2011.

Atlantic Yards Watch, Council Member Letitia James joins irate residents in demanding action on rat problem from State, City and Forest City Ratner

A list of of approximately 30 problem locations was assembled collectively during the meeting. Besides those already reported on this site like Dean Street, 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue, other locations included St. Marks Avenue, Park Place, Bergen Street, Greene Avenue, Pacific Street/Bears Garden, and South Portland.

Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

June 25, 2011

Atlantic Yards Rat-O-Rama

New York Times, In Brooklyn, the Rats Move Out Before the Nets Move In
By Liz Robbins

Residents living in the shadow of the Atlantic Yards arena project in Brooklyn shared horror stories on Thursday evening about cohabiting with rodents, and in the telling the rats seemed to grow to Godzilla-like proportions.

...

The problem, residents say, has been getting worse in the last several months as the arena for the Nets basketball team, the centerpiece of Atlantic Yards, has been rising. “We don’t have a normal rat problem,” said Karen-Ida Scott, 55, who lives on Dean Street, “we have a rat tsunami.”

...

No one from Forest City Ratner, the developer of the project, was there. On Friday, a spokesman for the developer, Joe DePlasco, issued a statement: “We have had a rodent control plan in place for over two years, beginning long before construction started. We are working very closely with Empire State Development and will continue to revisit the program to assess the impact. We will also continue to work with other parties, including the M.T.A., Department of Health and elected officials to address the issue.”

Fort Greene Patch, Blamed on Atlantic Yards construction, rodent sightings are on the rise, residents say.
By Amy Sara Clark

Stirred up by the digging at Atlantic Yards, rats have been a problem mostly for Prospect Heights residents, with the rodents eating through garbage cans and insulation in cars, boring through front doors and even climbing up one woman’s leg as she sat in her backyard, residents said at a meeting between area residents and city officials Thursday night.

“We don’t have a normal rat problem, we have a rat tsunami,” said one Prospect Heights woman. “I can look out in the middle of the day and see my trash cans outside my window overflowing with rats.”

Gothamist, Atlantic Yards Unleashes "Rat Tsunami" On Downtown Brooklyn

Russian billionaires and bleak buildings aren't the only things the Atlantic Yards project is bringing to Brooklyn: the construction is reportedly stirring up a large rat colony, some of which are "the size of cats." At a recent meeting to address the issue, two Downtown Brooklyn residents said that the rats got into their cars' engine blocks, "leaving behind chicken bones and aluminum foil, all the while chewing on the wires." One neighbor tells City Room, "We don't have a normal rat problem, we have a rat tsunami."

In addition to the normal displacement of rats that occur during such massive construction, the workers on the construction site have "increased the amount of garbage in the area," which in kind brings more rats. A rep for Forest City Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards project, didn't show up to the rat meeting and told the paper that they "have had a rodent control plan in place for over two years," and that they're working on the problem. Maybe they can afford some easy-on-the-eyes Frank Gehry-designed rat traps?

Atlantic Yards Report, Forest City Ratner tries damage control on issue of rat infestation as Times and Patch follow up (updated)

Both Patch and the New York Times covered the meeting on rats last night (my coverage here). Both articles show Forest City Ratner scrambling to address an issue for which they likely have significant but hardly full responsibility.

Posted by steve at 9:03 PM

June 24, 2011

Strike threatens $10B in construction projects

If operating engineers man picket lines when their contracts expire June 30, construction across the city will halt, idling more than 11,000 workers, according to a survey. It's happened before.

Crain's NY Business
by Daniel Massey

The 2012 Brooklyn Nets might yet be the New Jersey Nets.

With a contract deadline a week away, a survey of developers has found that a work stoppage by operating engineers could silence construction on private-sector projects worth nearly $10 billion and temporarily idle more than 11,300 workers.

With the operating engineers' union contracts set to expire June 30, the Real Estate Board of New York survey shows that work could stop on commercial and retail projects spanning more than 13 million square feet and on residential sites totaling more than 6,300 units.

Projects that could be halted include Forest City Ratner's Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which employs 1,000 construction workers.

Either half of those "1,000 construction workers" must have invisibility cloaks, or Crain's needs to count again.

article

Posted by eric at 5:01 PM

An avalanche of rat complaints: eating garbage, car insulation, infesting houses and backyards; agencies pressed to move faster; CM James says she's "shocked"

Atlantic Yard Report

If anyone thought that complaints about rat problems in the area around Atlantic Yards were isolated carping, they could hear an avalanche of anecdote tonight at a contentious meeting that drew a diverse crowd of 60 people, many from beyond the orbit of the sponsor Dean Street Block Association.

"We don't have a normal rat problem, we have a rat tsunami," observed Dean Street resident Karen-Ida Scott.

Others described a car catching on fire from food debris dragged into an engine by rats, garbage cans torn up, kids unable to play in the Dean Street Playground, and rodents appearing, alarmingly, inside houses and on people lounging in backyards.

"I now park in Park Slope," recounted John Martinez, aiming to save his car's insulation from regular rat attacks. "If gets any further, I'll have to take a cab to my car."

Others lodged complaints from as far away as Fort Greene.

"I was shocked," commented Council Member Letitia James (left, standing), who organized the meeting, held at the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. "The magnitude of the problem is astonishing. It requires immediate action."

article

Related coverage...

threecee via flickr, 2011 DSBA Rodent Meeting

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Rats invade Brooklyn neighborhoods around the Atlantic Yards

WPIX
by Kaity Tong

As difficult as it may be, we'll forgo any Ratner/rats puns, since the rat invasion of the neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards is a serious problem.

link

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

Atlantic Yards Drill Glitch Causes Rock Shower, Injures Two

Seven cars were also damaged after a spray of packed earth and stones hit Atlantic Avenue.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

The Atlantic Yards project has showered the people of Brooklyn with tons of stress, anger and frustration, but on Tuesday the site literally showered them — with golf ball-sized chunks of falling debris.

Two people were injured and seven cars damaged after a drilling accident on the site of Forest City Ratner's mega project caused rocks, packed earth and construction debris to rain down on pedestrians and cars outside of the Atlantic Yards construction site yesterday morning.
...

Officials are still looking into exactly what caused the drill to malfunction. In the meatime, Forest City Ratner has halted drilling while a larger shield is installed on the drill that is designed to contain flying debris.

article

NoLandGrab: Perhaps Forest City could convert the drill into a lethal killing machine that shoots debris at the rats that are overrunning the neighborhood.

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

June 23, 2011

Drill accident at Atlantic Yards site damages eight cars, injures a few people; contractor must submit safe work plan; problems with drill not new

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder has a statement from the ESDC regarding yesterday's drilling accident on the Atlantic Yards site — the second construction accident resulting in injuries this week.

Empire State Development Corporation spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell offered more detail:

Yesterday morning a drill rig became clogged that was working inside the construction fence at Vanderbilt & Atlantic Avenues. When attempting to unclog the casing spoil jam, built up pressure caused debris to spew into the street. Eight vehicles incurred minor damage, mostly on their wind shield, roof, hood, and trunk. Three people claimed to have been directly hit by debris. Emergency services were called immediately. One man was not visibly injured, but was transported to the hospital.

The construction manager ordered the contractor to stop work, and the contractor was directed to submit a safe work plan for approval prior to being allowed to proceed with drilling. This safe work plan includes both an improved physical barrier in the form of a heavy hoist-able screen with a support crane, and by preparatory action by contractor personnel, such as clearing the sidewalk and curb lane, in the event of another casing spoil jam requiring the use of compressed air.

article

Posted by eric at 4:48 PM

Drill spews dirt into Vanderbilt Avenue injuring two and damaging seven cars

Atlantic Yard Watch

Thomas Tracy reports today in the Brooklyn Paper that a drill driving piles immediately adjacent to Vanderbilt Avenue in block 1121 "sent egg-sized chunks of packed dirt and small stones raining down on unsuspecting pedestrians and commuters at the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic Avenues on June 21- leaving two injuries and more than seven damaged cars."

The drill in question is of the same type and doing the same type of work reported to be spewing dust several months ago on this website. These types of drills at the site have been the source of community complaints for some time, particularly for the dust and noise they cause. A video in our report from April 6th shows a malfunctioning Casagrande drill spewing dust one block west from the most recent incident.

article

Posted by eric at 2:49 PM

Accident injures two and damages cars at Atlantic Yards

The Brooklyn Paper
by Thomas Tracy

A drill accident at the eastern end of the biggest construction project in Brooklyn’s history sent egg-sized chunks of packed dirt and small stones raining down on unsuspecting pedestrians and commuters at the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues on June 21 — leaving two injuries and more than seven damaged cars.

Witnesses said they heard an explosion at around 10:30 am as a hydraulic drill malfunctioned, sending dirt and rocks flying into the air.

“I heard this loud sound, but I didn’t know where it was coming from,” said motorist Yahya Alshemi, who was caught under a wave of mud pies. “Then rocks and dirt started falling all over my car.”

Chunks of dirt blanketed Alshemi’s car for nearly two minutes. One hunk slammed his windshield, causing it to spider web.
...

Two people suffered light injuries, officials said. One person was sent to a local hospital with a slight head wound. The other was treated at the scene — the former BP station at the corner of Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues.

The pile driving at the site is expected to continue for two months as part of developer Forest City Ratner’s infrastructure work on the Long Island Rail Road’s Vanderbilt Yards. The company — which is currently building the Barclays Center to house the Brooklyn-bound Nets — did not return calls.

article

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

June 22, 2011

Who's responsible for garbage (and, likely, rats) in and around the Atlantic Yards site? Lots of people/agencies, but someone needs to knock heads

Atlantic Yards Report

A photo essay on Atlantic Yards Watch, headlined Many failures to contain garbage in the vicinity of Atlantic Yards can be seen in photos, shows several potential sources of food for rodents inside and in the vicinity of the Atlantic Yards Project footprint.

Those responsible include residents, visiting workers, Atlantic Yards site overseers, and city agencies.

I reproduce the first few below, but let me add a conclusion: if construction workers and police officers park illegally, thus contributing to the problem, and if the police won't enforce those rules, someone needs to knock heads.

That someone would seem to be the Empire State Development Corporation, which has overall responsibility for the project.

link

Posted by eric at 1:40 PM

June 21, 2011

A meeting to address the rodent problem will take place June 23rd

Atlantic Yards Watch

At Council Member Letitia James' initiative, a meeting addressing the rodent problem in the vicinity of the Atlantic Yards site is to take place this coming Thursday.

Many residents believe construction at the Atlantic Yards site is the origin of the problem, through a combination of disrupted nests, neglected abatement and new food sources. Sources for food and water that sustain the rodents are also available in the nearby residential community, most particularly as a result of improperly contained garbage. The problem cannot be addressed unless the many contributing factors are addressed.

Time: Thursday, June 23rd, 6 to 7 pm

Place: Soapbox Gallery, 636 Dean Street (please note this is a new location)

Sponsors: Council Member Letitia James, Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt

Invited: NYC Department of Health, NYC Department of Sanitation, Empire State Development Corporation, Forest City Ratner Corporation

All are welcome. Tell your friends and neighbors.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Meeting on rodent problem in blocks near AY site to be held June 23 at 6 pm

Brownstoner, Closing Bell: Rats! A Meeting About Rodents Near AY

Posted by eric at 2:25 PM

June 20, 2011

An ambulance at the Atlantic Yards site; worker injury described by ESDC as "slight"

Atlantic Yards Report

An ambulance was spotted this morning at the Atlantic Yards site at about 8:40.

"There was a slight injury," reported Empire State Development Corporation spokesman Warner Johnston in response to my query. "A backhoe operator (substitute for today) for subcontractor to Transit Connection contractor bumped his head on window shield while going over rocky ground. Apparently cut his forehead and there was bleeding –ambulance called. Individual was able to walk to ambulance under own power."

(Photo by Raul Rothblatt)

In April, the arena site was chosen by the city Department of Buildings (DOB) to illustrate the importance of Construction Safety Week not because it's been the site of major problems but rather as a site where there's been good communication between workers/managers and the DOB.

link

NoLandGrab: Good to know the injury wasn't serious. Brooklyn may not be so lucky

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

June 17, 2011

NYC Unions Agree to 20% Wage Cut On Manhattan Residential Project

Local 157 blogspot
by Carolina Worrell

Key unions in New York City, including laborers and structural trades, agreed to a 20% wage cut yesterday, June 15 for work on Gotham West, a residential development on Manhattan’s West Side that will consist of four buildings and about 1,240 residential units, according to a recent article in Crain’s New York Business.
...

Following Gotham’s lead, developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has submitted an application for a labor agreement to build a residential tower, part of the first phase of its mixed-use Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.
...

A Forest City spokesperson said it is “too premature” to say why the company applied for the agreement.

article

NoLandGrab: We'll take a wild guess that they applied for the agreement because they can't afford to build otherwise.

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

June 15, 2011

Unions agree to wage cut on major project

Reduction of 20% pledged for construction of over 500 affordable-housing units at planned block-long project on Eleventh Avenue; similar deal eyed for Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards.

Crain's NY Business
by Theresa Agovino

New York construction unions have reached an agreement to cut the wages of members working on a massive residential project on the far West Side by 20%, sources said. The project, which will include more than 500 units of affordable housing, is being developed by the Gotham Organization Inc.

Meanwhile, Forest City Ratner Cos. has applied to the unions for similar wage cuts as it prepares to begin construction of its first residential tower at the long-planned Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. There, at least 50% of the approximately 400 residential units will be affordable.
...

Spokesmen for the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, a union trade group, and Forest City declined to comment. Gotham President David Picket couldn't immediately be reached.

article

NoLandGrab: Bruce forgot to mention when he promised "jobs" that they would be cut-rate.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Modular plan or pressure tactic? Forest City said to be asking for 20% wage cuts for first Atlantic Yards residential tower

This confirms that, as I've suggested, the announced modular construction option has been used as a negotiating tool.

The New York Times, Squeezing Costs, Builders Take New Look at Prefab

Now, with an emphasis on materials conservation and reuse, and developers looking to squeeze costs any way they can, modular construction is getting a closer look.

Often the word prefab conjures images of inexpensive and poorly built structures like trailer homes. But proponents of prefab, many of whom shudder at the moniker, say that modular design done well is anything but cheaply built. A modularly constructed building uses the same materials as a traditional one. But because it is made in a factory, workers are not battling the elements and can construct it more soundly and with less waste, proponents say.

And less wages, proponents don't say.

“Is the technology there to do it? Yes. Is the desire? Yes,” said Christopher Sharples, a principal at SHoP Architects, which is designing a possible 34-story prefab tower for the developer Forest City Ratner at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. “In the near future, I think people are going to become more educated about what the potential of this approach could be.”

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

June 13, 2011

Arena construction work this week will go on second shift, to 11 pm

This will be updated when I hear more from the ESDC.

Atlantic Yards Report

Though the Atlantic Yards arena is, according to a consultant working for the bond trustee, a month ahead of schedule, the Empire State Development Corporation today announced at 3:32 pm that this week there will be a second shift of construction work, from 3:30 pm to 11 pm.

Work will include:

  1. Support activities for foundation work
  2. Spray fireproofing at the Event Level and other levels
  3. Sheet metal installation at the Event Level
  4. Plumbing installation at the Event Level
  5. Miscellaneous electrical rough in and electrical support activities.

According to the ESDC, no materials will be trucked off site and there will be no concrete pours during this period--in other words, less traffic.

While deliveries will be staged for prior to 6pm, there may be some small box truck type deliveries after 6pm.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Arena block work hours to be expanded until 11 pm

A supplemental construction alert today announces that for the week of June 13, 2011 there will be a second shift of construction work on the arena. The additional hours of the work will be 3:30 pm to 11 pm.

The alert states the work will include excavation, reinforcing of steel installation, truck elevator pit wall forms and numerous other activities.

In addition it states that with a few exceptions deliveries will be staged prior to 6 pm. Site access will be through both the Dean Street and Pacific Street gates.

Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

June 10, 2011

Latest consultant's report: arena still ahead of schedule, 360 people on the job in April

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Arena Site Observation Report, dated 6/2/11 and based on a 4/28/11 visit (and documents made available 5/23/11), based on cash flow, the arena project is one month ahead of schedule and the transit connection two months ahead of schedule.

The report is prepared by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee.

While "substantial completion" is anticipated by 8/27/12, the Developer is still reviewing the schedule and is working with Hunt Construction to reach an agreement, according to the report. A resolution was expected by May 2011. (Note that a resolution on that schedule has been expected since December.)

On the job, 360 people?

While the previous report, dated 5/4/11 and based on a site visit 3/24/11, stated that "240 persons have been on the job this month," based on manpower logs, the new report put the number at 360 in April.

In May, according to Forest City Ratner officials reporting at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting, there were 500 workers on site.

article

NoLandGrab: We still find cash flow a really odd way of measuring construction progress. What if they're just over budget? As for the jobs, we can say with confidence that the numbers promised by Forest City will never, ever materialize — with or without modular construction.

Posted by eric at 10:01 AM

Prefab—Future or Farce for New York’s Buildings?

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

In the past, The Observer has looked at the potential for the city to revolutionize its construction practices through prefabricated buildings. It’s been a dream of architects and builders for nearly a century, almost since the first Model-T rolled off the line, but it has had limited impact on construction in the country, and almost none whatsoever in New York.

But that changed when Bruce Ratner began pursuing a prefab tower for Atlantic Yards, which at 32 stories would be the largest such structure in the world. It gets very much at the issues brought up today, namely labor costs, because not only are the materials for prefabricated building cheaper, but less skilled laborers are needed to produce the projects.

Our pal Norman Oder asked a question of the panel about the prefabulous building in question, and the response from Jeff Levine, chairman of Douglaston Development, was telling. “It should act as a warning bell,” he said. “Just as our elected officials are telling us that the high cost of oil is beneficial to alternative sources of energy, whether it be wind or nuclear. But the reality is, we cannot build the perfect cost scenario, as evidenced by the lack of product going up. Having said that, alternatives are being sought. At some point, if it’s not non-union, then it’s modular. A solution will be found. We have to live somewhere.”

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Modular construction and Atlantic Yards: legitimate tactic or feint? At the least it's a harbinger, given concerns about construction costs

The New York Observer's Matt Chaban beat me to coverage of my own question at a panel on the cost of construction in New York City, in which I asked if Forest City Ratner's reported effort to consider modular construction is a legitimate tactic or a feint to coax union concessions.
...

I had informal conversations with some other attendees, and they leaned more to confirming my thought that Ratner's announced effort--called a "research project" by a Ratner executive--was closer to brinksmanship, just as Ratner halted construction midway through the Beekman Tower to renegotiate terms with the unions.

But, as they say, time will tell.

Posted by eric at 9:39 AM

June 9, 2011

Drilling at Vanderbilt Yard

raulism via YouTube

NY State wants to get access to the property in this video via eminent domain.

link

Posted by eric at 5:14 PM

Barclays Facade Mock-Up On Display

Curbed
by Sara Polsky

ATLANTIC YARDSVILLE—A tipster passing by the corner of Pacific and Carlton the other day noticed this mock-up of the Barclays Center facade: "The mockup shows a conventional facade with nearly black panels behind the just-for-show rain-screen that returns to reveal the glass portions." And speaking of Atlantic Yards, the next screening of Battle for Brooklyn will be held tomorrow night tonight in Fort Greene park.

link

NoLandGrab: Tracy Collins had this news more than two weeks ago.

Photo: Curbed

Posted by eric at 9:39 AM

June 7, 2011

At Barclays Center, Stadium Seating Has Arrived

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

article

Photo: Kristen V. Brown/Park Slope Patch

Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

June 2, 2011

Ratner Seeking $100 Million for Apartment Tower at Atlantic Yards Site

Bloomberg
by David M. Levitt and Betty Liu

The developer of the Atlantic Yards project in New York’s Brooklyn borough plans to borrow about $100 million to construct an apartment tower near the basketball arena now going up on Flatbush Avenue.

Work should start on the apartment building in December or January, Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner Cos. chairman and chief executive officer, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The tower would join the Barclays Center sports arena as the second structure at the $4.9 billion, 22-acre project in downtown Brooklyn.

“We’ve already talked to banks and we will be able to get a loan,” Ratner said.

article

NoLandGrab: We'll believe construction of any Atlantic Yards housing when we see it, not when Bruce predicts it. And for the millionth time, the project is not in downtown Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 8:54 AM

Harlem Sales Ranked; Artists, Help to Beautify Atlantic Yards

Curbed
by Sara Polsky

The Atlantic Yards construction site has already gotten one shot at beautification through Urbancanvas, but, well, it could use another. ArtBridge has issued a call for entries from Brooklyn-based artists with "visual works that riff on, reveal, or reference the artistic process." Entries are due by June 26, and some of them will be displayed on the Flatbush Avenue scaffolding on Atlantic Yards' south side.

link

Posted by eric at 8:49 AM

June 1, 2011

Atlantic Yards Construction Brings Out The Rats; Neighbors Complain

WPIX
by Mario Diaz

In the shadows of the Barclays Center there is an invasion of new tenants overwhelming a quaint neighborhood like gangbusters. However, some residents along Dean Street are referring to it more as a “complete rat infestation.”

People in the neighborhood say the attacks began when construction started on the Barclays Center as well as the development surrounding it. “We didn’t have all these rats before. Sometimes you see them lying on the streets,” said one area resident.
...

PIX11 did see plenty of rats on flyers being distributed on cars belonging to construction workers in the area. One resident who refused to be identified told us that since the construction workers are not obeying alternate side of the street parking, the streets not being cleaned, thus the rats have more garbage to feast upon and the infestation only becomes greater.

article

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, Atlantic Yards rats make TV news

Mario Diaz of PIX11 caught up Friday with several of Atlantic Yards' neighbors concerned about the increasing number of rats infesting the streets surrounding the project.

Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

May 31, 2011

Is the law finally going to be enforced in relation to illegal construction worker parking on Pacific Street?

Atlantic Yards Watch

The NYPD has posted "no parking" signs on Pacific Street from the Newswalk parking garage to 6th Avenue on Pacific Street for Tuesday, May 31st.

Are the police finally going to crack down on the illegal construction worker parking on Pacific Street that regularly occurs on sidewalks and in no standing zones in this location? There are no signs on the 6th Avenue bridge which is also a regular source of free and illegal parking for Barclays Center construction workers.

As has been commented on by community members on this website, the illegal parking in this location has regularly blocked sidewalks and the travel lane, as well as made street cleaning impossible. It has also contributed to a sense that parking regulations in the area are enforced selectively.

link

NoLandGrab: We thought all the jobs were going to people from the neighborhood. Why would anyone need to drive?

Posted by eric at 1:21 PM

May 26, 2011

Barclays Center Construction Progressing At Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards

CBS New York

The Barclays Center is the biggest piece of the Atlantic Yards complex and is under construction right now in Brooklyn.

link

NoLandGrab: Actually, the Barclays Center seems to be the only piece of the Atlantic Yards complex, though we're expecting a giant parking lot, too.

Photo: Tom Kaminski / WCBS 880

Posted by eric at 5:34 PM

May 24, 2011

When arena opens in 2012, Building 2 still under construction; despite predictions, it doesn't look like another tower will be under way by then

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the Arena Traffic Mitigation Plan prepared by Sam Schwartz Engineering and distributed yesterday by the Empire State Development Corporation, Building 2 (highlighted), the first housing tower, is expected to be under construction when the arena opens in September 2012.

As the gray outline in the graphic suggests, the location for Building 4, at the northeast corner of the arena block, is demarcated, but it's unclear when the building will go up. And a bicycle parking facility will occupy part of the space designed for Building 3.

(Click on graphic to enlarge and clarify)

Schedule slipping

Why is this important? Because in September 2010, Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin said, "We anticipate having funding in place to start the first building at Dean and Flatbush in the spring of 2011, the second six to nine months later, and the third about the same time after that."

Not only has the first tower been delayed, it doesn't look like the developer aims to get the second building started within six to nine months.

link

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

May 23, 2011

If there are 500 workers at AY site, how does that compare to official projections? Well, 1000+ jobs were promised to last over three years

Atlantic Yards Report

There are 500 workers at the Atlantic Yards site, Forest City Ratner officials said last week, though there's no independent confirmation.

The total is difficult to trumpet since it’s so much smaller than the numbers promised, I wrote, prompting one observer to wonder: if the promised construction job figure was 10,000 job years (or 1000 jobs over ten years), wouldn't that mean that they are providing about half of the promised jobs?

Not at all.

Looking at the numbers

First, the current projected total is 17,000 job-years, up from the original 15,000. Those numbers, however, depend on a full build-out of the project, which is highly doubtful.

Second, the jobs were supposed to be concentrated in Phase 1, when the arena was under construction along with four towers. None of those towers is under construction as of now, and the first tower, Building 2, has been delayed and may be built via modular construction, which would significantly reduce jobs.

article

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

From Tracy Collins: weathered steel facade mock-up visible at corner of Carlton and Pacific

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder covers Tracy Collins's posting of arena "skin" photos.

Yesterday, photographer Tracy Collins visited the southeast corner of Pacific Street and Carlton Avenue, where mock-ups of the Barclays Center weathered steel facade have been posted.

Note that the mockup panel delivery and placement of the footing was originally supposed to come in mid-March, but was delayed two months, and that arena subcontractors were described by a Forest City Ratner executive as behind on producing the pre-weathered steel.

link

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

Barclays Center façade

Threecee via Fllickr

Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street Prospect Heights Brooklyn, New York

This appears to be one panels that will make up the rusted metal skin of the new Barclays Center Arena of Atlantic Yards.

link

Posted by steve at 4:45 AM

May 20, 2011

News from AY District Service Cabinet: Street changes, including Pacific St. reversal, coming in June, fireworks over rats, 60 workers from Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards Report

Get ready for more construction and previously announced changes on streets in the area of the Atlantic Yards project, starting next month, including the reversal of Pacific Street between Fourth and Flatbush avenues and a new left turn from Pacific to Flatbush, thus diverting traffic that formerly went north on Fourth Avenue.

That was the main takeaway from the third meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, held yesterday at Brooklyn Borough Hall and involving representatives of various city and state agencies and community boards. Official notice of the changes is expected June 7, and a public meeting to describe the changes will be held June 14 at Borough Hall from 6:30 to 8 pm.

Another major issue at the meeting, one of the few flashpoints for tension, was raised by City Council Member Letitia James, who reported significant rodent problems at blocks around the site, though Forest City Ratner, pointing to a slippery slope of responsibility, said its responsibility was limited to the site itself.

There was no mention of timing for the much-promised affordable housing and a Forest City Ratner executive indicated the number of local workers is relatively small: 38 of 500 workers on site come from the three adjacent Community Boards, with a total of 60 Brooklyn residents on site.

Also, Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz inadvertently highlighted a likely problem connected to the arena surface parking lot planned for the block bounded by Dean and Pacific streets and Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. He indicated that the sidewalks on Pacific Street leading to the arena site were large enough to handle crowds--but didn't acknowledge that the crowds are expected to use Dean Street, which has much narrower sidewalks.

Also, Forest City Ratner asserted that one of its Community Benefit Agreement partners, Brooklyn Endeavor Experience, was briefed and is distributing information on environmental issues, though there's no evidence that's happening.
...

As Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz explained, construction of certain traffic mitigation measures required in the Final Environmental Impact Statement must begin in June, because they have only two construction seasons to get the work done before the arena opens in the late summer of 2012 and that work at the congested intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues must be done on nights and weekends.

Pointing to the gridlock at that intersection, he said traffic planners decided to take the shortest leg, on Fourth Avenue going north between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, out of circulation.

Thus, Pacific Street would be made one way eastbound, and drivers would have to do what the Brooklyn Paper dubbed the “Fourth-to-Flatbush Two-Step.”

Listening to Schwartz, Jon Crow, a coordinator of the Brooklyn Bear’s community garden at Pacific and Flatbush, shook his head. He later said he had no problem with the direction change, but thinks that allowing a left for traffic going north on Flatbush would create its own gridlock.

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NoLandGrab: We're going to go out on a limb here and predict that the rerouting of northbound Fourth Avenue traffic to Flatbush via Pacific Street is going to be an epic disaster that will make the usual gridlock seem trivial by comparison.

Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

New Watchdog Site Will Keep Close Eye on Atlantic Yards

The Park Slope Civic Council, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Boerum Hill Association have formed the Atlantic Yards Watch.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

The Barclays Center arena is flying up at the intersections of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues – and the surrounding neighborhoods now plan to keep a very close eye on it.

On Wednesday, civic organizations from Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Prospect Heights announced that they had banded together to found Atlantic Yards Watch, a website which will closely monitor and chronicle the construction on the Atlantic Yards construction site, and its subsequent effects on the neighborhoods surrounding the mega construction project.

The organizations involved in the site – the Park Slope Civic Council, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Boerum Hill Association – hope that the website will help address quality of life concerns that increasingly face residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the development.

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Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

May 18, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Brooklyn Civic Associations Launch Web Site to Monitor Impacts from Atlantic Yards Construction

Civic organizations in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Prospect Heights today announced the launch of Atlantic Yards Watch (http://www.atlanticyardswatch.net), a web site which will monitor ongoing construction and operational impacts from the Atlantic Yards project on surrounding communities. The largest single development in Brooklyn’s history, Atlantic Yards is unusual as a State-sponsored project that does not have dedicated public oversight.

“With construction in full swing and the Barclays Center expected to open in September 2012, local community members are concerned over the lack of transparency in identifying and resolving the many traffic, noise, air quality and safety issues associated with Atlantic Yards,” said Danae Oratowski, Chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “By tracking concerns reported through its web site and the NYC 311 system, Atlantic Yards Watch will provide a centralized record of reported incidents and resolutions.”

In addition to submitting reports of construction and operational impacts, site visitors can also participate in discussion forums on quality of life and safety topics. “We’d like to see Atlantic Yards Watch become a resource for the Empire State Development Corporation, City agencies, and also Forest City Ratner,” said Michael Cairl, President of the Park Slope Civic Council.

The idea for the web site grew out of a study by a graduate class at Pratt Institute led by Professor Jamie Stein. The class researched public responses to projects in other urban areas, and proposed potential models for structuring a response in relation to Atlantic Yards. “Communities faced with large development projects having the potential to disrupt local life for decades have to find ways to effectively communicate risks, make recommendations to government authorities and developers, and ensure that proper disclosures are provided,” said Professor Stein.

“Atlantic Yards Watch is intended to address gaps in oversight that we hope will eventually be closed through the establishment of a local development corporation or authority that is accountable to the public,” said Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “Until that entity exists, it’s critical to document the community’s experience with the impacts of the Atlantic Yards project.”

Posted by eric at 3:42 PM

Consultant says arena one month ahead of schedule, transit connection two months; what about the Carlton Avenue Bridge?

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Site Observation Report, dated 5/16/11 and based on a 3/24/11 site observation, on the Barclays Center arena construction, produced by Merritt & Harris, consultants to the real estate lending and investment community, the arena is still ahead of schedule.

The report indicates that the arena is one month ahead of schedule, based on cash flow projections, and the Transit Connection to the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station is about two months ahead of schedule.

Note, however, as mentioned below, last month the substantial completion date and final completion date for the arena had been moved back.

According to the graphics below (click to enlarge), spending on the arena, and presumably work at the site, is expected to increase markedly in the next year.

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Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

May 5, 2011

Cutting construction costs key to first Atlantic Yards tower; is modular option part of overall effort to get union concessions as contracts expire?

Atlantic Yards Report

There was some useful information in the sycophantic Real Deal profile article headlined Ratner's refute: Developer insists Atlantic Yards is moving forward (and critiqued here): the effort to control construction costs, whether via experimental modular construction or union concessions, is crucial to the developer's profits, and to the timing of the promised housing.

According to the article:

Profits from the planned residential buildings are "going to depend on where construction costs wind up," [Bruce] Ratner said.

[Maryanne] Gilmartin said the company has finished the schematic design phase of the project's first residential tower, a 400-unit building on Dean Street that will be 50 percent affordable units and 50 percent market rate.

The company is in the process of developing two separate possible designs for the building -- one modular, aimed at cutting costs, and one conventional. It expects to send contract documents out to bid on both designs in the "latter part of the year," Gilmartin said.

It's possible that the modular option is aimed as leverage to get unions to make project-specific concessions, as I've suggested. So the conventional design also would be aimed at cutting costs, though in a different way.

After all, Forest City Ratner famously halted work halfway through the construction of the Beekman Tower, then renegotiated union contracts to save money.

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Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

May 3, 2011

Barclays Center Flying Up

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

The Barclays Center continues to fly up – now each week progress is obvious, the shape of the basketball arena that the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets plan to call home in the 2012-2013 season more visible.

The majority of the arena’s foundation has been laid, with efforts now focused on erecting the steel frame of the arena itself. Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner expects to begin work on the façade as early as June. Demolition and excavation still continues on the Long Island Railroad/Vanderbilt Yard side of the site.

link

Photo: Kristen V. Brown/Park Slope Patch

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

Bruce Ratner becomes slave driver, makes Barclays Center construction workers work longer and on Saturdays

The Funky Apple
by Nigel Chiwaya

You may not have noticed it, but the Barclays Center, future home of the New Jersey Nets, is coming along quite nicely on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. But apparently it’s not happening fast enough for Bruce Ratner, the project’s developer, as he’s set to make construction workers work longer hours and Saturdays for the next three months.

link

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

May 2, 2011

Remember the "Reference or fantasy" post four years ago about the projected ten-year Atlantic Yards timeline? It was a fantasy

Atlantic Yards Report

[Re-published from] Monday, April 30, 2007

Reference or fantasy? The (projected) ten-year Atlantic Yards timeline

(Click to enlarge)

Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards is supposed to be completed in a decade, by 2016, according to the construction schedule (document at bottom) included in the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Graphic designer Abby Weissman has combined elements of the construction schedule with the Atlantic Yards site plan. Time will tell whether it's a valid reference or a fantasy.
...

As of 2011

Note that the construction schedule, proposed 7/10/06, was already out of date in 2007.

As the graphic indicates, all of Phase 1, west of Sixth Avenue, was supposed to be done by now. Instead, only the arena is under construction, with a planned late summer 2012 completion.

As of now, there's no timetable for any of the towers, completion of Phase 1 could take 12 years, and the project as a whole could take 25 years, according to the Development Agreement--and there are further loopholes for delays.

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NoLandGrab: As we wrote earlier, yes, things are, um, completely on schedule.

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

Buzzer beater! Ratner workers will toil longer, and on Saturdays, to get arena done

The Brooklyn Paper
by Gary Buiso

Work in and around the developer’s Atlantic Yards site on Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues will stretch into Saturday for the next three months, and last longer during the weekday, according to an updated schedule released late last week by the Empire State Development Corporation, the agency overseeing the work.

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said the $4.9-billion mega-project is proceeding “completely on schedule,” and the time changes reflect the fact the project is located above an active Long Island Rail Road train yard belonging to the adjacent Atlantic Terminal.

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NoLandGrab: If by "completely on schedule," Joe DePlasco means "there's no timetable for completing the 90% of the Atlantic Yards project that's not the arena," then, yes, things are completely on schedule.

Posted by eric at 12:03 PM

April 29, 2011

ESDC announces extended working hours at the Vanderbilt Yard, beginning earlier, ending later, and adding Saturday work

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development Corporation yesterday distributed a Supplemental Report to its bi-weekly Atlantic Yards Construction Update, announcing extended working hours at the site, beginning earlier and ending later, and also introducing Saturday work for at least three months:

The following section has been modified to include new information:

Long Island Rail Road/Vanderbilt Yard/ Carlton Avenue Bridge
New Information: commencing on May 2, 2011, yard construction hours will be: 6am – 4:30pm. In addition, beginning on Saturday May 7, 2011, construction work will take place on Saturdays during the hours of 7am – 5:30pm for a period of at least three months. Work will consist of the installation of SOE [support of excavation] piles along the south side of the jobsite within block 1120 & 1121; along “the bump” on Block 1120 (Lots 19, 28 and 35) and near the former gas station on Block 1121, lot 42.

Click through to learn what the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement had to say about work hours.

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Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

April 28, 2011

Deron Williams, Billy King Tour Barclays Center Site

NBA.com

Give the NBA credit for this — at least they locate the arena correctly in Prospect Heights, and not "downtown Brooklyn."

After lunch in Manhattan, Nets general manager Billy King and point guard Deron Williams traveled into Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood to visit the Barclays Center construction site. The visit marked the first for each of them, and the duo soaked up information from Forest City Ratner Companies and Hunt Construction Group officials, querying them about everything from layout and design to the planned parking situation. Walking down to what will eventually become center court of the new arena, you could see each of them begin to envision the future.

"It's cool to see the beams up," Williams said. "You hear about how it's going to look and how it's going to be finished. But it's good to come and see how the progress is. You can kind of start picturing it, what it's going to be like, see the layout of things. And it's good to see the area – I hadn't been to this area yet. It's different. This is in the heart of the city. It's kind of like the Garden. It's the same feel. It's special."

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NoLandGrab: Must be all the new bars sprouting up that make the area feel "kind of like the Garden."

Posted by eric at 9:47 PM

Construction Spending Hits A 5-Year Low

The Wall Street Journal
by Joseph De Avila

Construction spending in New York City dropped 12% last year, falling to its lowest level since 2005, according to a new report.

Builders cut back on residential housing and office buildings even as the city's economy slowly began adding jobs again. Part of the drop last year was due to big projects like the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field wrapping up in 2009.

The number of construction workers also fell by 8,900 to 111,800 in 2010. It's the fewest construction workers employed in the city since 2004.
...

It would have been even worse if not for a few large projects, including the World Trade Center and the new basketball arena at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

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NoLandGrab: Yes, without Atlantic Yards, there would have been only 111,640 construction workers employed in 2010, rather than 111,800. Thank goodness we taxpayers have shoveled hundreds of millions of dollars into that project.

Related coverage...

WNYC Radio, Spending Slump Hurts NYC Construction Workers

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

April 27, 2011

For Construction Safety Week, Department of Buildings leads visit to Atlantic Yards arena site; videos show perspective on construction

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder has a package of reports on yesterday's Atlantic Yards construction-safety event.

Yesterday, as part of Construction Safety Week and the "Experience is Not Enough" campaign, the city Department of Buildings (DOB) offered a tour to the press of the Barclays Center site, aiming to remind workers and others about safe construction practices throughout the city.

The arena site was chosen not because it's been the site of major problems but rather an a site where there's been good communication between workers/managers and the DOB.
...

I shot a few videos. Below, Deputy Commissioner Eugene Corcoran of the Department of Buildings speaks to the press. (Yes, the audio is obscured because of the significant noise of the site and my imperfect equipment.)

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Before press tour of arena site, community concerns about oversight, responsiveness, District Cabinet schedule

Before the press tour yesterday of the Atlantic Yards arena site held by the Department of Buildings (DOB), Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association distributed a sheet reminding reporters about the need for effective oversight of the project, such as a governance entity, common with other large projects.

He was not targeting the DOB but rather the Empire State Development Corporation, which has overall responsibility for the project.

Atlantic Yards Report, Two walks near the Atlantic Yards site: Sixth Avenue (below Flatbush Avenue) and Flatbush; Dean Street and Sixth Avenue

Yesterday, to document the street scenes near the Atlantic Yards arena site, I filmed two walks. Both show the intersection of residential, retail, and construction.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

Building Inspectors Tour Atlantic Yards In Brooklyn During Construction Safety Week

CBS New York

It’s Construction Safety Week. What better time for the city to showcase precautions in action at the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn?

How about never?

Buildings inspectors like Eyal Amos distributed posters, banners and orange bracelets to the hard hats at the Atlantic Yards project.

“We’re not here only to give them violations and what not, [but to] get them all going back home at the end of the day to their families. We don’t want to see people dangling, falling off the edge of the building,” Amos told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

Amos said the inspectors visited the site each week.

“We’re trying to see that the workers themselves have a good practice, whoever needs to wear harnesses, whoever needs to have hard hats, people have the right equipment,” said Amos.

On Tuesday, Amos observed workers on the skeleton of the Barclays Center arena, which will become the home of the current New Jersey Nets basketball team.

“We want to see them tied off. We want to see them having harnesses on,” said Amos.

article

Related coverage...

A|N Blog, ATLANTIC YARDS UPDATE

With the exception of the World Trade Center, there’s probably no better place to call a press conference dealing with construction issues than Atlantic Yards. At the moment the controversial project practically guarantees a large press turnout. This Tuesday, the Department of Buildings used the site as a backdrop to launch a new safety campaign for the 7th Annual Workers Safety Week with a particular focus on getting workers to wear harnesses.
...

But while DOB officials talked safety on the site, off site Dean Street Alliance president Peter Krashes complained that there were still problems for workers and neighbors. “If the community is affected, then the workers must be, too,” he said of dust and noise. “The problem with Atlantic Yards is there are holes in oversight by the Empire State Development Corporation.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Behind the Scenes at Arena Site: City Leads Tour

“This is the largest construction site currently in New York City,” said Eugene Corcoran, deputy commissioner for the Department of Buildings, leading a press tour through the arena site.

Accompanying the various reporters and photographers were officials of Forest City Ratner and Hunt Construction (the main contractor on the job), union workers and others.
...

Teams from the DOB inspect the arena site once a week due to size and complexity, according to officials. Mark Gladden, construction manager at Hunt Construction, pointed out that the firm has worked on sports arenas throughout the U.S., including CitiField in Queens and AT&T Park in San Francisco. Many of its subcontractors are national subcontractors who follow jobs from town to town, he added.
...

Both he and Bob Sanna, director of design, development and construction for Forest City Ratner, emphasized that the workers on the site are union members. At any given time, there are about 160 workers on site, Hunt said.

Posted by eric at 9:13 AM

April 26, 2011

Mockup of weathered steel façade panels for arena delayed two months, should be delivered in mid-May

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how Forest City Ratner VP for Construction Bob Sanna said that arena subcontractors were behind on producing the pre-weathered steel for the Barclays Center exterior?

Well, another aspect of that project seems to be behind. According to the latest ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE, Weeks of April 25, 2011 through May 8, 2011, produced by Forest City Ratner and distributed by the Empire State Development Corporation:

The excavation and concrete footing placement for a long term but temporary visual mockup of the weathered steel façade panels has been completed at 752 Pacific Street. The mockup panel delivery and placement of the footing was originally expected to be completed during the reporting periods covering March 7th through March 25th, however the delivery has been revised to mid-May.

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NoLandGrab: One man's "weathered steel façade" is another man's pile of rusty junk.

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

April 25, 2011

On Tuesday, a Construction Safety Week visit to the Atlantic Yards site

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Department of Buildings:

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the launch of the 7th Annual Construction Safety Week, a week-long series of events aimed at raising awareness about safe construction practices throughout the City. To kickoff this year’s events, the Department hosted a four-hour safety conference – Build Safe / Live Safe: An Inside Look at the Latest Construction Trends in New York City – at New York University in Manhattan today with more than 250 construction industry professionals to discuss new ways to improve construction operations, as well as specific trends identified in recent construction-related accidents. The Department also launched a new safety campaign, entitled “Experience Is Not Enough,” to encourage all construction workers to use proper fall protection, such as guardrails, harnesses and nets, while working on a job site.

Tomorrow is an Atlantic Yards visit:

On Tuesday, Department inspectors will visit the Atlantic Yards construction site in downtown Brooklyn, one of the largest ongoing construction projects in the City, and distribute posters, banners and bracelets to workers as part of the new safety campaign. Since 2008, 16 workers have lost their lives due to a lack of proper fall protection, including two fatal accidents earlier this year. In February, two workers, ages 49 and 51, were killed when they fell about 65 feet while installing a steel beam at a job site on West 83rd St. in Manhattan. Inspectors determined safety harnesses were on site at the time of the accident, but they were not being used.

Note that, despite the somewhat awkward phrasing, no workers have lost their lives at the Atlantic Yards site.

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NoLandGrab: A number of people, however, lost their homes to the Atlantic Yards site.

Posted by eric at 10:38 PM

April 19, 2011

Forest City executive says shrinking arena to preclude major league hockey was conscious choice, downplays modular construction as "research project"

Atlantic Yards Report

So much for Nets CEO Brett Yormark's coy statements about how arena promoters would "would love the [New York] Islanders [hockey team] to play a couple of games at the Barclays Center."

It's long been suspected that the arena would be too small to accommodate major league hockey, and even a market analysis commissioned by Forest City Ratner stated that "the arena would need to be retrofitted to accommodate the ice-making abilities the NHL requires for its franchises."

Last week, Bob Sanna, Forest City Ratner Executive VP for Construction, told a Pratt Institute School of Architecture audience that, to design a smaller arena that could be financed, "we made some pretty deliberate decisions early on: we weren't going to have a [professional] hockey team."

He noted that, to make an ice floor, the seats move in one direction only, which doesn't make for good hockey sightlines.

That doesn't preclude some hockey games, just a season. The tight, smaller arena--675,000 square feet in the Ellerbe Becket (plus SHoP on the facade) design, opposed to 850,000 square feet in the original Frank Gehry design--furthers a focus on basketball.

Reality, of course, never prevented Yormark, Bruce Ratner and others from misleadingly dangling the notion of a resident pro hockey team during the process of selling arena bonds.

[Sanna] spoke as part of the Pratt Institute's spring 2011 School of Architecture Lecture Series. While Sanna's lecture, according to the promotion, was titled "Development as a Contact Sport," it was more a nuts-and-bolts description of the challenges faced by construction managers on such a project, and a class of would-be construction managers made up the bulk of the audience.
...

What about the developer's modular plans?

Sanna again said it was a question outside the scope of his presentation but downplayed it as "an experiment... It is for all intents and purposes a research project."

If it's a research project, perhaps it's a negotiating ploy with the unions.

Or perhaps Forest City Ratner just isn't ready to tip its hand.

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NoLandGrab: If history and Forest City Ratner executives teach us one thing, it's that nothing they say can ever be trusted.

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

April 14, 2011

Confirmed: Atlantic Yards is Toxic

Vials containing lethal doses of arsenic were found on the Atlantic Yards construction sites.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

Locals in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards construction site have long felt the project was toxic – turns out, it really is.

A recent construction update from developer Forest City Ratner revealed that vials of arsenic were uncovered on the site – the same highly toxic metal famously used to murder lonely old men in the Joseph Kesselring play Arsenic and Old Lace.

Though developers expected to find an abundance on toxins on the site – including metals such as arsenic – the Empire State Development Corporation said that finding actual vials of the stuff on a construction site is highly unusual.

“It is suspected that the vials were from an old pharmacy,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, a spokesperson for ESDC, the state agency that oversees the project.

“Elevated arsenic concentrations may be encountered at urban and agricultural sites due to past industrial and agricultural uses; it is unusual, however, to encounter vials containing arsenic concentrations.”

article

Related coverage...

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], The Day: Arsenic Vials and Library Cuts

A puzzling discovery at the Atlantic Yards work site was mentioned in a construction update for the week of March 28 to April 10. Workers found vials of arsenic in dug up soil on the site. Prospect Heights Patch reports that the vials may have come from an old pharmacy, according to Empire State Development Corporation spokesperson Elizabeth Mitchell. The soil around the vials tested at below the Environmental Protection Agency’s limits, Ms. Mitchell told Atlantic Yards Report, but it is being treated as hazardous waste, and will be taken to a disposal facility, possibly in Michigan, within the next two to three weeks.

Posted by eric at 11:38 AM

April 13, 2011

Arsenic Discovered at Atlantic Yards Construction Site

The L Magazine
by Henry Stewart

While excavating soil at the Atlantic Yards construction site, workers discovered several small vials of arsenic, Atlantic Yards Report reports. The state says the situation is under control: all affected soil has been contained and "will be inspected daily to ensure secure containment and compliance with the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan," reads a report from Forest City Ratner. Other areas of the site will be tested to ensure that no surrounding or underlying soil was contaminated.

In the next two or three weeks, the soil will be removed, treated and disposed of by a facility in Belleville, MI. "Until then," a spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation told Norman Oder, "the soil is stored onsite and is sealed on top of and under plastic."

Where vials of arsenic came from, nobody knows. A voo-doo ritual to "poison" the project, perhaps? Nice try, anyway.

link

Posted by eric at 9:25 AM

April 12, 2011

Consultant: arena remains ahead of schedule, but substantial completion date nudged back, final completion date pushed back

Atlantic Yards Report

According the 4/4/11 Site Observation Report on the Barclays Center arena construction, produced by Merritt & Harris, consultants to the real estate lending and investment community, the arena is still ahead of schedule.

Indeed, as the graphic indicates, actual spending (white dot) exceeds projected spending (black dot), though it's still early days.

Falling behind?

But other data indicate that the arena is falling slightly behind earlier predictions:

  • the substantial completion date has been nudged back two weeks from 8/12/12 to 8/27/12
  • a final completion date, involving punch list work and subcontractor close-outs, has been pushed back three-and-a-half months, from 2/28/13 to 6/14/13.

None of this jeopardizes the announced arena grand opening date of 9/28/12, a month after the substantial completion date. However, if additional glitches crop up, it may get tougher for arena promoters to fulfill this plan, as stated in a 4/5/11 press release:

Prior to the official Grand Opening on September 28, the Barclays Center plans to use the first several weeks of September 2012 to host public events and tours to welcome and introduce the Brooklyn community to its new building.

article

Posted by eric at 7:31 AM

April 11, 2011

At the AY site, soil contains "a limited amount of small vials containing arsenic," but that arsenic's pretty dangerous; state says it's under control

Atlantic Yards Report

You never know what you'll find at a construction site, apparently, including potentially lethal concentrations of arsenic. But the state says it's under control.

From the ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE [PDF], weeks of March 28, 2011 through April 10, 2011, produced by Forest City Ratner and circulated by the Empire State Development Corporation:

Soil discovered during excavation that contains a limited amount of small vials containing arsenic has been covered with and staged on plastic on the southern area of Block 1127. The stockpiles of soil have been secured and will be inspected daily to ensure secure containment and compliance with the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. The origin of these vials is unknown. Samples of this soil and vials have been collected and are being analyzed to evaluate proper off-site disposal options. Endpoint samples have been collected from the area where the vials were first observed in order to ensure that no additional impacts to surrounding or underlying soils have occurred. All remediation work associated with these vials will be performed in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Health and Safety Plan. Several potential disposal facilities are being evaluated and the stockpiled soil may be disposed of offsite during this reporting period at a properly permitted disposal facility.

I asked the ESDC about the next steps, and spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded last week:

A permitted disposal facility has been selected, and once the follow-up paper work has been filed, the soil will be removed from the site (expected within the next 2-3 weeks). Until then, the soil is stored onsite and is sealed on top of and under plastic.

The powder in the vials tested at 148 mg/L, and the results from the TCLP (USEPA Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure) testing of the soil currently stored on site tested at 0.02 mg/L. The USEPA regulatory limit for arsenic is 5 mg/L.

FCR’s contractors are treating the soil pile as a hazardous material even though the soil tests showed concentrations well under the EPA regulatory limits. Since the contents of the vials found in the soil are above this limit, it is more practical and a more prudent safety measure to treat the soil pile as a hazardous waste than to try and extract the individual vials from the soil and dispose of them separately.

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Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

Nets Future Brooklyn Home Starts Taking Shape

WNYC Radio
by Arun Venugopal

The Barclays Center, the 18,500 seat arena at the center of the still-contentious Atlantic Yards project, is slowly taking shape in Brooklyn. Last week, the New Jersey Nets management announced September 28, 2012, as the opening date for the arena — the team's future home in Brooklyn.
...

For some residents, the construction of the Barclays Center represents a mix of day-to-day nuisances and long-term concerns.

Edwin Barreto lives next to the construction site and wishes the arena had been located further out in Brooklyn, perhaps closer to Red Hook. He's been frustrated by the loss of parking spaces, but is even more worried about what will happen, once the arena opens and thousands of outsiders start streaming into the neighborhood.

"What's going to happen too is all those people that go in there and drink that beer, they're going to be coming out here, peeing all over the corners, peeing on people's cars," said Barreto. "I've seen it happen in Newark."

article

NoLandGrab: Putting an arena in Red Hook, with its dearth of transit access, would've made a bad idea even worse. Mr. Barreto is wrong about that, and let's hope he not right about the other thing — though we fear he is.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Arena: "good for Brooklyn, bad for the neighborhood"?

The article closes thusly:

His friend, Sean Carnegie, walking to his son's basketball practice, saw pros and cons in the location of the arena.

"All in all, it's cool," said Carnegie. "It's good for Brooklyn, bad for the neighborhood."

The choice of a this as a closing quote implies that the reporter considers this a legitimate summary.

Indeed, it captures some of the ambiguity: those closest to the arena site will bear the brunt of its impacts, while those farther away, to the extent it fits their pocketbooks, may avail themselves of sports and entertainment events.

Still, it's unlikely that the man-on-the-street assessment of "good for Brooklyn" factors in the elements of a full cost-benefit analysis, including direct subsidies, tax breaks, and the absence of (or delays in) promised project benefits.

Posted by eric at 10:01 AM

April 10, 2011

From "Solidarity for Sale": how the mob infiltrates construction unions

Atlantic Yards Report

The late Robert Fitch's 2006 book, Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America’s Promise, came from a union supporter, not a critic, so it's full of disappointment and tough love.

He wrote:

Corruption, properly understood as the private use of public office, has been built into the labor movement from its very inception. When union corruption appears in the press, it's usually because of illegal acts: the outright pilfering of union assets or collusion with the boss, selling the members' jobs or giving away their benefits. But a lot of corruption is legal — hiring your relatives, taking excessive salaries, hiring hall favoritism.

Here's a review.

The mob and construction unions

Last October, at the Municipal Art Society Summit for NYC, analyst Julia Vitullo-Martin said, gingerly, "Historically, the mob has been a problem in construction industry."

Now there are hints that leaders in the Carpenters Union, some of them public supporters of Atlantic Yards, have knowledge of mafia ties--at least as suggested by their reported unwillingness to sign a document disavowing such knowledge.

Fitch explained how the system worked:

Most notoriously, the "Theme for The Godfather" regularly serves as background music whenever six-figure construction jobs are in play in New York City. It's hard to avoid the strong arm of the wiseguys when there's so much money to be made from the huge spread between the union rate and the market rate. The contractors can hire non-union labor for as little as $10 an hour with no benefits. Then they charge the owner, the developer, or the government the union rate. The difference will be pocketed by the contractor, minus the cost of bribes to union officials to look the other way. Mob guys--if they're not the contractors themselves--will wind up with at least a couple of points. It's the fee they charge for protection--a vital commodity in the construction field. The more the spread between wages, the more union members getting the premium wages need protection against those seeking their jobs and the more officials who are betraying their members will need protection against those who covet their territories.

He added:

The system turns into a protection racket almost from the beginning. it's always in the interest of the contractor to find a union leader who is most willing to let him cut the corners from the contract. In exchange for concessions, the contractor rewards the union leader with discretionary jobs for his members. The union leader is allowed to choose who works and who sits on a bench in the hiring hall waiting to be called. Soon the union leader has gathered around himself a retinue of clients that further protects him from the broader membership.

link

Posted by steve at 12:53 AM

April 6, 2011

Kim Kardashian's Boyfriend Is Ready For Brooklyn Nets-NY Knicks Rivalry

Gothamist
by Jen Chung

Dumb & Dumber?

Kris Humphries, a forward for the NJ Nets and also boyfriend of Kim Kardashian, visited the Barclays Center, the former site of a Frank Gehry-designed sports arena (now it's something that look like an airplane hanger a modified airplane hanger), where his team is supposed to play. In fact, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, who happens to be the Nets CEO, says the area will open on September 28, 2012. And Humphries can't wait.

He told reporters, "Hopefully we can get everyone in Brooklyn to come out and support us and build the tradition the Knicks have... There is a rivalry now. Just think about what it will be like out in Brooklyn." And the Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay also attended the press event.
...

According to Gay, "[Humphries] said he wasn't sure if he would live in Brooklyn, though he'd heard "there are some real great places to stay."

article

Related coverage...

Arena Digest, Barclays Center set to open for 2012 season: Developer

The bigger issue for many locals: what happened to the rest of the ambitious Atlantic Yards complex. The arena was designed as an anchor for a larger development of office and retail towers, initially designed by architecture legend Frank Gehry. Along the way the arena design was downscaled, and the other towers put on hold.

Indefinitely, as it turns out.

Queens Crap, $300M down the drain, people evicted for nothing?

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

April 5, 2011

Inside the Barclays Center

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

The Barclays Center is now looming impressively over intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, the shape of the basketball arena that the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets plan to call home in the 2012-2013 season clearly visible.

About 70 percent of the foundation has been laid, and 30 percent of the steel is in place. Next week, the stadium seating will arrive from Detroit and Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner expects to begin work on the façade as early as June.

article

Photo: Kristen V. Brown

Posted by eric at 4:14 PM

Barclays Center Will Open Sept. 28, 2012!

Nets CEO Brett Yormark announced that the center will open with three weeks of public events before the season opener.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

It’s official: on Sept. 28, 2012 the Barclays Center arena will officially open for business.

Brett Yormark, CEO of the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets, made the announcement Monday afternoon at a press conference at the Atlantic Yards construction site, alongside the team’s power forward Kris Humphries.

“We’re really excited about being here, this is obviously a moment we’ve been waiting for a great while,” said Yormark.
...

The arena’s grand opening will include three weeks of public events prior to the Nets taking the hardcourt for the first time. Yormark said the opening festivites were an effort to “welcome and introduce the Brooklyn community to its new building.”

article

NoLandGrab: Given the reliability of Yormark's past pronouncements, we're not going to write this one in ink.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Barclays Center grand opening said to be September 28, 2012

NetsDaily reports:

Meanwhile, Sports Business Journal reports Barclays Center’s grand opening is set for Sept. 28, 2012, capping a three-week run of soft openings tied to open houses and community events, Brett Yormark said. The event that day should be announced in the next 30 days...but many believe it will be a concert by Jay-Z. The date was included in a story about how the Nets need to hire a new general manager for Barclays after the Knicks stole Alex Diaz from the Nets arena project.

Posted by eric at 12:06 AM

April 4, 2011

Nets' Brooklyn project reportedly could be scaled back

The Star-Ledger
by Colin Stephenson

This is like a bad game of telephone.

Sure, we don't expect that Bruce Ratner will ever build half the stuff he promised (or was it threatened?) to build for his Atlantic Yards project. But as Atlantic Yards Report pointed out today, this morning's New York Post article drew some awfully broad conclusions from safe-harbor language in Forest City's most recent quarterly earnings report.

And now, everyone's jumping on that bandwagon.

The Nets’ new arena being built in Brooklyn remains on schedule to open for the 2012-13 season, but a story in today’s New York Post suggested the rest of the nearly $5 billion project, of which the arena is supposed to be the centerpiece, is in danger of being scrapped.

article

Related coverage...

MyFoxNY.com, Nets Arena Plans Scaled Down

The Atlantic yards complex that will become the new home for the NBA's Nets could be a lot smaller than originally planned.

NYMag.com Daily Intel, Apartments, Parks, Mall, and Office Space May Never Get Built at Atlantic Yards, EVER

In SEC filings last week, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner admits: "If any of the foregoing risks were to occur we may ... not be able to develop Brooklyn Atlantic Yards to the extent intended or at all." As the Post observes, this means all Brooklyn will be left with is an uninspiring, brown stadium — and one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Posted by eric at 11:34 PM

April 1, 2011

Brooklyn Arena On Track For 2012 Opening

NY1
by Jeanine Ramirez

Nets CEO Brett Yormark gave NY1 a tour of the site. He says the construction is right on track for a 2012 opening when the Nets, for the first time, will play in Brooklyn.

"They've been underserved in the area of sports and entertainment for years. Since the dodgers left in 1957. We're the home team. We're coming back. And we're giving them something to root for," said Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

Thank goodness. We've been bored out of our wits for the last 54 years.

"We're bringing the circus here and Disney on Ice. We have a college franchise we're developing with IMG College for lots of great college sports with basketball and hockey," Yormark said.

If it's not Yormark's usual hyperbole, that may be some news. There's been some question as to the arena's suitability for ice hockey.

article

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

March 29, 2011

Can a prefab skyscraper work well with the urban landscape? "You can, but it's not been done yet," professor tells Brian Lehrer

Atlantic Yards Report

The biggest Atlantic Yards news this morning on the Brian Lehrer Show was the blunt statement by Rafael Cestero, Commissioner of the city Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development, that his department felt an additional housing subsidy request by Forest City Ratner "was not a good public investment."

But there were some enlightening moments in another segment, Pre-Fab At Atlantic Yards, notably observations that it's difficult to create an esthetically satisfying modular tower, and Forest City Ratner is working in uncharted territory.

Lehrer started off the discussion by pointing out that the developer is considering a 34-story modular tower, the tallest in the world. Modular construction is untested at this height and, while it could cut construction costs in half, unionized construction workers would lose many jobs they expected.

Click through for Norman Oder's transcription of the discussion, with his commentary.

article

Posted by eric at 10:55 PM

Pre-Fab At Atlantic Yards

WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show

Coming up this morning between 10 a.m. and noon on AM 820 and FM 93.9:

New York Times reporter Charles Bagli discusses Forest City Ratner's plans to build the world's tallest pre-fab steel structure at Atlantic Yards. Aseem Inam, professor of urbanism at Parsons, joins the conversation and discusses pre-fabricated construction from an urban design point of view.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, On the Brian Lehrer Show today, "Pre-Fab At Atlantic Yards," with the Times's Bagli and a professor of urbanism

Norman Oder has already posted a comment.

Beyond the economic savings to the developer, and the reduced numbers (and thus income) of construction workers, consider that modular construction also would have a significant impact on the projected tax revenues to the city and state from Atlantic Yards construction.

Those rosy projections of tax revenues have already been diminished by delays in the project, notably in the planned office building. They would be further diminished if Atlantic Yards is not built out to the size approved, as a significantly smaller project would pass state muster.

Those reasons are why City Council Members Letitia James and Brad Lander, at a committee hearing earlier this month, pressed NYC Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky on the need for a new cost-benefit analysis. Pinsky resisted the idea.

More here.

Posted by eric at 10:05 AM

March 28, 2011

Nets' new home moving forward

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The spot that will one day be the site of the Barclays Center basketball court is a mud patch, and only about a quarter of the arena’s circumference is apparent.

But 12 months after a high profile groundbreaking for the $1 billion arena near downtown Brooklyn, concrete and steel testify to the reality of the Nets’ pending exit from New Jersey.

The first of the arena’s halfdozen large roof trusses was erected 10 days ago, now defining the height of the 675,000square-foot facility for the many passers-by. About 30 percent of the steel is already up, and the foundation is 70 percent complete, arena officials say.

The precast steps will be put in place within the next 30 days or so, giving a sense of the bowl to curious neighbors. The first part of the facade is expected to be in place by mid-July, and the roof should be in place by year’s end. If construction continues at this pace, the arena is likely to open on schedule in mid-2012 — just months before the Nets move in that fall.

Guess who's PUMPED! about the advent of the arena.

Nets chief executive Brett Yormark is renowned for his unbridled optimism — a trait that didn’t waver, even during last season’s record-breaking futility of an 0-18 start en route to a league-worst 12 wins in 82 games. So it’s a given that Yormark would gush about the possibilities in Brooklyn, where the arena is a key piece of the Atlantic Yards project being built by developer Forest City Ratner.

“We’ve been talking to artists and promoters, and the biggest names in the business want to play here,” Yormark said during a tour of the arena site last week. “I think our opening-month celebration is going to be unprecedented. When we put out the artists’ names that are going to appear here. … Everyone sees the movement in Brooklyn. They understand that this is going to continue the renaissance in Brooklyn, and they’re embracing it. They want to be a part of it.”
...

Yormark said season-ticket holders will begin receiving invitations to reserve Barclays Center seats in the next 10 days.

“We’re only marketing our 4,400 best seats to start,” said Yormark, whose arena will include 3,200 premium, or “club” seats. Yormark said that all 16 “brownstone suites,” featuring 16 seats, have sold out at $450,000 apiece. Yormark said about 40 percent of the suites are sold overall, with the nine most-expensive, event-level, Jay-Z-designed suites being held off the market until the fall.
...

But many Nets fans in New Jersey undoubtedly can’t visualize crossing two major rivers and numerous potential traffic bottlenecks to make it to the Barclays Center — even though the arena is less than 20 miles from downtown Hackensack and less than 30 miles from Wayne.
...

Parking also figures to be a challenge, although Yormark said there will be 1,100 spaces at the site, 600 more at the Atlantic Center, and another 1,600 to 1,700 spots in lots within six to eight blocks. Yormark said that studies show about 70 percent of Knicks fans arrive by mass transportation, and that he hopes that at least half of Nets fans will do the same.

article

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

March 25, 2011

Getting ready for modular construction? NYC Building Trades Employers' Association asks unions to drop restrictions on off-site work

Atlantic Yards Report

Modular construction, apparently, is one of the negotiating points between contractors and union workers.

Union radical Gregory Butler, on his Gangbox News blog, recently posted THE BUILDING TRADES EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION'S 26 POINT ULTIMATUM TO THE NEW YORK BUILDING TRADES, from the Building Trades Employers' Association (BTEA), which represents "1,700 construction managers, general contractors and specialty subcontractor firms in New York City."

It included cuts in wages, no overtime for make-up work, a cut in overtime pay from double to time-and-a-half, and rule changes, but the key passages, at least regarding Forest City Ratner's plans for modular construction of towers at the Atlantic Yards site, are these:

#6. No limitations on materials, supplies or equipment, regardless of their source or origin;

#7. Elimination of prohibitions of or restrictions on work which is performed off-site on materials or products modified or fabricated for installation on the project;

The larger context

On March 19, in a front-page article headlined Trade Unions in City Confront a Rise in Nonunion Projects, the New York Times pointed to the BTEA's new Build Union Jobs web site (screenshot at right) and noted that "what may be their most tense contract negotiations in years" is imminent:

The employers have backed off an initial demand for wage cuts, but they are still aiming for a 25 percent cut in labor costs, by reducing benefits and changing some work rules. They say these changes would allow them to better compete with nonunionized companies, which are winning jobs from developers because their costs are 20 to 30 percent cheaper.

The Times article leaves the impression that some rules that clearly need changing--such as requiring three operating engineers in place when only one is needed--while others may be efforts to extract more profits.

The Times article mentions Atlantic Yards, but not the request for rule changes regarding off-site construction:

And this week, the developer of the Atlantic Yards megaproject in Brooklyn said it was seriously considering using a prefabricated method to build its residential high-rise. While most of the workers would be unionized, there would be fewer of them and they would earn less money because much of the labor would be done in a factory, where wage scales are lower than on the site.

article

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

March 24, 2011

Barclays Center Starts Raising the Roof

Curbed
by Joey Arak

What makes this Barclays Center construction update different from the ones that have come before it? Now the arena is one big mothertrussin' pile of steel. The arched Barclays-branded roof will be supported by two 350-foot-long trusses, and a new photo released by the Nets organization and posted on Nets Daily shows the first one being installed. The 1000% of Brooklynites who support Atlantic Yards should be thrilled!

link

Photo: New Jersey Nets via Nets Daily

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

March 22, 2011

Union sundown! Ratner risks losing labor support with prefab tower

The Brooklyn Paper
by Gary Buiso

Developer Bruce Ratner has yet to birth a building at the Atlantic Yards site, but he’s already causing labor pains.

Unions are recoiling after learning that the mega-developer has been secretly planning a prefabricated tower at the Prospect Heights site — a decision that could significantly jeopardize hundreds of union jobs that Ratner promised to organized labor and their political supporters at a critical juncture in his project’s approval process.

The 34-story building at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street — the first residential building in what is on paper is stll a $4.9-billion 16-skyscraper project — would be constructed using 900 modules, or prefabricated steel boxes, that would simply be stacked and bolted together, the New York Times reported last week.

This week, union members were the ones bolting — from Ratner.

“This was never part of the plan that was presented to us,” charged Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79. “If something is going to provide good jobs to our members, we are going to support a project. But, clearly, he’s changed how he is planning to go forward.”

It was the unions who loudly supported Ratner for years, trumpeting the hundreds of construction jobs that were slated to be filled by union workers during the decade it will take to build the project.

If the modular plan proceeds, union jobs would be considerably diminished, as most of the work is completed on a factory floor rather than on site of what would be the world’s tallest prefab building.

“Everything is built in one shot — the electrical, the plumbing — then they pick up the box with a crane and put it in place,” said Tony Buscema, president of the Brooklyn Board of Business Agents, which finds work for the building trade unions. “The building trades don’t get much out of it because the rooms are already completed.”

article

NoLandGrab: We don't want to say we told you so — but we told you so, and we've been telling you so for the past seven years.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

March 21, 2011

The Day: Modular Construction and Political Corruption

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

Last week we watched a new clip from “Battle for Brooklyn”, a documentary (by Local contributor Michael Galinsky) coming out this spring chronicling the fight over the Atlantic Yards Project. The clip shows Bruce Bender, Forest City Ratner executive vice president, and politicians talking about the local jobs the project will create.

The claims of job creation came under scrutiny last week, after The New York Times reported that developers are constructing a 34-story modular high-rise at the site. The building, which would be the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure, could cut construction costs in half by requiring fewer and cheaper workers.

That potential reduction in Atlantic Yards construction jobs has refueled the drive to closely examine the project and Forest City Ratner, which was recently mentioned in a corruption case against New York State Senator Carl Kruger. The New York Times also reported that the developer pressed Mr. Kruger for $9 million to rebuild the Carlton Avenue Bridge at Atlantic Yards.

link

NoLandGrab: Forest City actually said they were considering prefab construction.

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

Ratner lied to the unions

Queens Crap

Crappy has a message for the building trades.

Well, union members, since you acted like sheep it's no surprise that you have been led to the slaughter.

See you at Willets Point, where the rest of the flock will no doubt be put down.

link

Posted by eric at 10:58 AM

March 18, 2011

With Federal Case and Modular Building Plan, New Attention for Atlantic Yards Project

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli

The Atlantic Yards project began with much fanfare in December 2003, when the developer Bruce C. Ratner unveiled his plans at a pep rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall: an exotic basketball arena and a sprawling residential development that would provide affordable housing, jobs and community development.

The $4.9 billion project took a battering during the ensuing seven years of public review, controversy and delay. Today, the 18,000-seat basketball arena, which will be home to the Nets, is taking shape at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. But revelations in the past few days have brought renewed attention to the rest of the 22-acre project.

Last week, a federal bribery case against State Senator Carl Kruger turned up a recording of an executive at Mr. Ratner’s company, Forest City Ratner, pressing Mr. Kruger for $9 million to rebuild the Carlton Avenue Bridge at Atlantic Yards. Forest City Ratner did not get the money, and the executive was not accused of any wrongdoing, but the recording did bring unwanted attention to the company’s desperate search for financing.

And this week, Forest City Ratner confirmed that it was considering erecting a 34-story prefabricated, or modular, tower, as a way of cutting its construction costs and fulfilling its obligation to start building housing.

The construction unions that Mr. Ratner had lauded last year for sticking with him were stunned by the suggestion that much of the work might take place in a factory, where wages are much lower than on-site. Forest City has put off the start date for the tower, the first of 16, until the end of the year.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the organization whose lawsuits delayed the project for years, said the plan for a modular building was the latest in a long line of broken promises.

article

NoLandGrab: What really delayed the project for years was a) a degree of outlandishness and unrealistic ambition that, b) made the project impossible to finance, compounded by c) an absolute disregard for public process that forced opponents to pursue legal action.

Related coverage...

Norman Oder is moved to publish two blog posts on The Times article.

Atlantic Yards Report, Times can't help but notice bad news about Atlantic Yards, gets supportive quote from Markowitz, soft-pedals EB-5 story, railyard deal

The New York Times today follows up on the skein of bad news and broken promises afflicting the Atlantic Yards project, but doesn't go nearly far enough.

The article downplays the bargain Forest City Ratner got on the renegotiated railyard and finally mentions--but completely soft-pedals--the astounding effort to trade green cards for purportedly job-creating investments.

The headline, With Federal Case and Modular Building Plan, New Attention for Atlantic Yards Project, inherently indicates the Times's own role in calling attention to the project.

Yes, the taped conversation between scandal-plagued state Senator Carl Kruger and Forest City Ratner executive Bruce Bender is in the public record, but the modular building plan was a Times scoop.

The missing scoop(s)

And the Times could've had a scoop of sorts on Forest City Ratner's effort to exploit the EB-5 investment program; after all, I laid out a road map in a comment yesterday on the Times's web site.

Instead, just as with two other pieces of damning Atlantic Yards news--Forest City Ratner's bailout of ACORN, and the major cut in the value of arena naming rights--the Times covered it belatedly, parenthetically, and weakly.

Atlantic Yards Report, How does refinancing a land loan and helping build a new railyard create Atlantic Yards jobs, under EB-5? It defies common sense

Bagli writes:

[Forest City] also lined 498 Asian investors who enrolled in an obscure federal program that grants green cards in exchange for a $500,000 investment in a job-producing American project.

MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, said that when it received final approval from the federal government, the $249 million would be used to pay down a land loan for the project and additional work on the railyard.

How would that create jobs? It wouldn't--at least not in great quantity, not close to the 4980 minimum jobs required (ten per investor) or the 7696 jobs claimed.

If no EB5 funds, then what?

What happens if Forest City does not pay down the land loan? The collateral development rights would have gone to their lender, Gramercy Warehouse Funding, if Forest City didn't pay. Now they'd go to the Asian investors.

What about the railyard? They're obligated to build the railyard by 2016; if they can't come up with financing they'd lose development rights.

Their whole 2005 bid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority--and the renegotiation of the bid in 2009--was based on the premise that the cash component was only a small percentage of the overall value.

How jobs are calculated

In either case, note that under federal guidelines, actual jobs need not be counted; rather, an economist's report suffices. It applies a "multiplier" to the total sum invested.

However, for the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project," Forest City Ratner and its partner, the New York City Regional Center, have been claiming that the $249 million sought is part of a $1.448 billion package, and that the "multiplier" be applied to the entire sum.

That of course would increase the number of jobs.

That may pass muster under lax federal review, but it's bogus.

It's bogus because refinancing the loan wouldn't create jobs.

And it's bogus because the arena--nearly a billion dollars, and the main component of the EB-5 project as pitched to investors--is already funded and would go ahead with or without the immigrant investor funds.

Posted by eric at 1:11 PM

Bad Faith Towers

Design Observer
by Alexandra Lange

Never let it be said that Bruce Ratner is not an avid follower of architectural trends. With this latest iteration of building at Atlantic Yards he swaps titanium for brown paper, correctly sensing that, post-recession, prefab is more palatable than starchitecture. Where once the Faustian bargain he offered Brooklynites appealed to their old school pride (a real city has its own sports team) and new Brooklyn snobbery (we could have had a Gehry before Manhattan), the new one is more pragmatic. Do you want affordable housing now, built fast and cheap, or later, when I wring a reduction in the number of promised units from the state?

The Times (for once) offers some distance from Ratner, development partner for their own Eighth Avenue tower, by pointing out that this new plan sells out the construction unions that were among Ratner's biggest supporters. (Another sign of distancing: The paper also seems to be calling the project Atlantic Yards again, a site Ratner and his Russian partner rebranded Barclays Center.) The desirable industrial jobs that would come from the prefab plant required to build such a tower would pay much less than old-fashioned site work. Do we want green industry enough? Are we so desperate for affordable housing (again, the recession changes everything) that we will take a chance on untested building technology? Who gets to be the guinea pig on the 34th floor? Surely Forest City Ratner did not want this news out the week of the Japanese quake.

Surely Ratner will tart up the prefab units with some cast concrete lintels and blown-up brownstone details, and call them contextual. But the truth is, the Times rendering is not so far from the boxy stacks Gehry proposed after the billowing Miss Brooklyn proved too costly. As with the disappointing 8 Spruce Street, there's a thin value engineered line between industrial production and genius.

article

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM

Union reps criticize Ratner's bombshell about modular construction; Markowitz issues statement of support, left with contradiction

Atlantic Yards Report

In Unions Outraged Over Ratner's Prefab Tower, Patch does a good job rounding up comments from construction unions regarding Forest City Ratner's plan for modular construction, which came to light yesterday.
...

Meanwhile, the project's biggest cheerleader, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, tried to finesse the issue. As the New York Times reported today:

But Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president and a longtime supporter, attributed Atlantic Yards’s current problems to a devastating recession and the opposition’s lawsuits.

“Despite the economic realities we face today,” Mr. Markowitz said in a statement, “I have every confidence that Atlantic Yards will deliver what was promised, including affordable housing, much needed jobs and, of course, the new Barclays Arena for the Brooklyn Nets.”

How exactly would Atlantic Yards deliver the "much needed jobs," in the quantity and at the pay levels expected?

All indications are that there would be fewer jobs, at lesser pay. And that means the cost-benefit analyses should be recalculated.

article

NoLandGrab: Maybe Ratner's plan to slice union jobs is why Marty is touting a job fair on the cover of his latest "Brooklyn!!" "newspaper."

Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

Source: Atlantic Yards Developer Mulls Pre-Fab Construction

NY1

The developer of the Atlantic Yards project could be cutting costs by using prefabricated materials.

A source with Forest City Ratner says it's something the firm has been exploring, but no decision has been made.

This comes after a recent New York Times article which says Ratner is pursuing a plan to use pre-fab or modular construction in a 34 story building at the site, which would serve as affordable housing.

The move would save the developer money in construction, labor and wage costs.

Although workers would be hurt by such a move, a representative from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York said its members look forward to continued employment opportunities with Ratner.

link [with video]

NoLandGrab: Something tells us that's not what the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York was saying to Bruce Ratner on the phone yesterday after taking a gander at the front page of The Times.

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

March 17, 2011

Prefab Preview?

Passing by the Barclays Center construction site this afternoon, we spotted what we thought — given the absence of union construction workers — must be a model for Bruce Ratner's newly announced modular housing.

We're guessing this is a duplex.

Posted by eric at 11:17 PM

Unions Outraged Over Ratner's Prefab Tower

Union leaders lamented potential plans to build a 34-story prefab residential building on the Atlantic Yards site.

Park Slope Patch
by Stephen Brown and Amy Sara Clark

Local union workers are reeling from developer Bruce Ratner’s acknowledgement that the first residential building at the Atlantic Yards site may be prefabricated — a move that would cut costs, as well as hundreds of union jobs.

The revelation, reported by The New York Times, would cut construction costs in half by requiring a smaller workforce making significantly less money.

“We understood that there would be a certain number of jobs generated by this project that would in turn support the local economy. Clearly farming out modular housing does not do any of those things,” said Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction & General Building Laborers’ Local 79. “The union supports projects based on one criteria only: are there jobs for our members in this project? If that’s not the case, then we’re not going to support it.”

Other union representatives were equally dismayed.

“It would be disappointing, very disappointing,” said Edward Walsh, president of the New York State District Council of Iron Workers, which works on the site of the $4.9 billion, 16-tower mega project at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. “There are a lot less jobs for iron workers if this is built prefab.”
...

“We have obvious concerns about the safety and quality of modular construction for larger buildings as well as its impact on estimates for job creation, wages and benefits that have been central to the economic justification for projects advancing,” said a spokesperson for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater NY via E-mail.

“Forest City Ratner has been a developer using union labor of the building and construction trades for many years, and it is on this basis that we have consistently supported projects its pursues.”

article

Posted by eric at 10:56 PM

Developer Mulls Pre-Fab Housing at Atlantic Yards

WNYC News Blog
by Cindy Rodriguez

In a written statement, the Building and Construction Trades Council said it's concerned about the safety and quality of modular construction, as well as its impact on jobs and wages.

Forest City said pre-fab technology could allow for more efficient development, and eventually translate into more affordable housing and more union jobs. A spokesman for the developer said it would never build something that isn't safe. The company said while its exploring the modular option, it's pursuing conventional construction as well.

Related coverage...

Field of Schemes, Ratner mulls prefab housing tower alongside Nets arena

The good news: Facing a May 2013 deadline to break ground or else face million of dollars in penalties, Forest City Ratner may finally be building one of the promised apartment buildings that were the main hook for getting approval for its Brooklyn Nets arena project.

The bad news: The developer is considering building a prefabricated 34-story tower, which would be the world's largest, in order to cut costs.

Why is that bad news? Well, the other hook for the project was that it would create jobs, and as the New York Times' Charles Bagli notes, "a carpenter earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits on-site, but only $35 an hour in a factory." (Not to mention that a factory can be built anywhere, which pretty much obviates the job benefits to New York City of the project.)
...

Bagli also notes that since no one has ever built a prefab building this tall, no one is sure whether it would hold up to wind shear and seismic forces. Plus, as he doesn't note, a building made of stacked-and-bolted-together boxes — think a pile of shipping containers with windows in them — sounds hideously ugly. But then, we know that Ratner has a tolerance for ugly.

A|N Blog, QUICK CLICKS> SUPPORT, PREFAB, WRIGHT, GENIUS

The New York Times covers Forest City Ratner‘s plan to use prefab building components for a 34-story apartment building at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Engineered by Arup and designed by SHoP, the units should be pretty high-end as far as modular housing goes, but construction workers argue that the prefab approach will mean less jobs.

Posted by eric at 10:44 PM

Hint of Old-Time Ratner Debate Surfaces Again

Developer: Modular Tech Is Only One Possible Option

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer

Telling the truth, however, doesn't appear to be one of them, because the Eagle has a statement from Forest City, and guess what? They're not selling out the unions — this is going to mean more union jobs!

An official statement from the developer read, “Forest City is working very hard to identify innovative ways to develop the first residential building at Atlantic Yards because the need for affordable and middle-income housing in the city remains critical. That said, Forest City will only build consistent with its values as a company, and that means union labor. Modular technology is cutting edge, allowing for more sustainable and efficient development.

“Particularly now, this could translate into more middle income, affordable and elderly housing. And that also means more union jobs. While we are still designing out the building for conventional construction we are exploring the modular option as well.”

They did not say whether parking spaces would all be filled with flying cars, however, or whether the entire complex would be powered by a huge hamster-filled Habitrail.

Councilwoman Letitia James, who took part in many anti-Ratner demonstrations when the Atlantic Yards were a hot issue, said this development highlights “a long list of failed promises,” meaning the promise of more construction jobs. “I wasn’t particularly disappointed because I wasn’t particularly surprised,” she said.
...

The New York Central Labor Council did not return calls to the Eagle by press time.

article

Posted by eric at 10:29 PM

Prefabulous? How Atlantic Yards Could Revolutionize New York City Real Estate

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Matt Chaban makes the case that modular maven Bruce Ratner could revolutionize the construction business in New York City — which could send thousands of building-trades workers looking for new careers.

Atlantic Yards has its problems. Bruce Ratner's arena-cum-condos megaproject has involved insider deals and eminent domain, Russian oligarchs and Chinese visas, bratty Brooklynites and disgraced lobbyists. The news, revealed in today's Times, that Ratner is trying to save on construction costs by using prefab building technology is far from the biggest story to involve Atlantic Yards. Yet the news could have a farther-reaching impact on the city than anything else to take place at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

It is not simply that Ratner is considering building a 34-story prefabricated apartment building, though it is notable that this would be the tallest prefab building in the world. It is that, should Ratner succeed, many, if not most, of the city's developers would follow in his footsteps. It could alter the way we build, the way we work, the way we live, the very look of the city.

Architects have been pursuing prefabrication almost since Henry Ford's first Model-T rolled off the line. The dream of mass-producing housing inside of factories was a hallmark of mid-century modernism's utopian streak, though the process proved more costly than traditional methods and was largely abandoned. Over the past decade, however, the technology has advanced enough that it has become an affordable and practical means to build, one that is not uncommon in Europe and Asia. Locally, Pratt recently constructed a prefab dorm and at least two malls made of shipping containers are in the works.

As The Times makes clear, modular construction could present more challenges to Ratner than his fellow developers. One of the reasons housing is said to be so expensive in New York is the cost of labor. By doing much of the "construction" in a factory, developers can cut down greatly on this particular expense, even if the factory workers are unionized, as well. For those looking to encourage gainful employment in New York, this is not necessarily a benefit, as The Times points out.

article

NoLandGrab: Here's Bruce in his younger, more "mod"ular days.

Posted by eric at 4:40 PM

Poetic Justice in Brooklyn

Gideon's Trumpet

Property-rights advocate Gideon Kanner is shedding no tears for those who helped shill for Bruce Ratner but now might have found themselves on the short end of the fix.

It has been a familiar phenomenon that after a controversial redevelopment project is approved, what comes out of the municipal/redevelopment sausage machine is not necessarily what was promised to the public and the courts.
...

But it’s a case of poetic justice with a dollop of schadenfreude when the screwees of such a shift in plans turn out to be former supporteres of the original redevelopment plan. And just that is apparently what is happening in Brooklyn.

One of the major points urged in favor of the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn was that its construction would create jobs. In fact, according to the New York Times, when the targeted locals, protesting their coming displacement by eminent domain, appeared at community hearings, local union lads would drown them out with chants of “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” But guess what?

It now turns out that Forest City Ratner, the Atlantic Yards redeveloper intends to use modular construction to put up some of the buildings now planned for that project. What that means is that much of the construction will be accomplished in factories whose employees get paid a lot less than on-site construction workers.
...

Anyway, this development is infuriating the construction workers, the selfsame folks who were such supporters of the Atlantic Yards projects and who cheered on as the indigenous inhabitants of the project area were pushed aside to make room for Ratner’s construction plans.
...

Moral: when you demand that someone else’s rights be subordinated to what you claim to be ”the public good” that will put a buck or two into your own pocket, don’t be too surprised if in the event that “public good” bites you in the posterior as well.

link

Posted by eric at 4:27 PM

Ratner Planning Prefab Alternatives For Atlantic Yards

Gothamist
by Garth Johnston

With Frank Gehry long gone, how low-brow can Forest City Ratner take the never ending Atlantic Yards project? Well, the company is seriously considering making the project's first non-stadium building, a 34-story residential tower adjacent to the Barclay Center, the world's tallest prefabricated building.

Inspired in part by the above video of a 15-story tower going up in China over two days, the Times reports that Bruce Ratner has ordered the building's latest architect, SHoP Architects, to work on both regular and modular designs for the 400-unit building.

Assuming that the structure can support itself, withstand winds, and pass other structural tests a prefab building would be a huge boon financially for Forest City Ratner, which has had much difficulty financing the project since the markets collapsed. But, as the Gray Lady points out, those savings would come at the expense of one of the projects most consistant supporters: construction unions.
...

Candace Carponter, legal director for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, hammers the point home: “Jobs and affordable housing accounted for nearly all of the Atlantic Yards project’s promised benefits, and with Ratner’s selling-out of the unions, shelving of any office space, and the scarcity of subsidies for housing, the community is left with the arena as the primary “benefit” - if you believe a traffic-choking, noise-generating, taxpayer-money-losing white elephant is somehow beneficial.”

And that isn't even touching on the fact that prefab buildings are, with very rare exceptions, incredibly unattractive.

NoLandGrab: Is it us, or does that rendering of the last Gehry design kind of look like prefab towers that weren't anchored properly? Maybe we're getting that "world-class Frank Gehry design" after all! Though that overnight Chinese building is very reminiscent of Bruce's Atlantic Terminal illness.

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Ratner Considers Prefab Tower for Atlantic Yards

The story says that though the move would cut costs, a prefabricated tower "is untested at that height" and the move would likely piss off construction workers, who were among the mega-project's most vocal supporters. Although the the developer has its architecture firm SHoP working on designs for both a traditional and modular building, another consideration is whether a prefab structure of this height would actually result in much of a cost savings, according to the story: "Whether taller modular buildings can be built to withstand intense wind shear and seismic forces, while retaining cost savings, is another question, because the higher a structure is built, the more bracing it would require."

About.com [Brooklyn, NY], NIMBY: Ratner Atlantic Yards to Try Building Highest Ever Prefab Apartments?!?

Oh, and BTW, this questionable building, with about 400 apartments, "would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site," according to the Times story, Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards. If the first building gets an OK, rest assured that Ratner will try to build all 16 of the proposed apartment towers in the same way: pre-fab.

Iffy housing safety for poor people? Undercutting the original deal, that the Atlantic Yards would create a lot of jobs?

Everybody knows Atlantic Yards is in a financial bind. And this prefab idea is ingenious, out-of-the-box thinking. But it's bad public policy. And, in terms of possible safety issues, well, just how cynical can you get?

The Real Deal, Ratner hopes to build world's largest prefabricated tower in AY

The Times notes that by employing this relatively inexpensive method to fulfill his obligation to provide affordable housing, Ratner is neglecting a longtime support group: construction workers who were after Atlantic Yards jobs.

The Huffington Post, World's Largest Prefab Building Might Come To Atlantic Yards

However, constructing it this way also greatly reduces the number of new jobs- and creating new jobs was one Ratner's biggest selling points for the Atlantic Yards project in the first place.

Others are also concerned that the prefab option may not be quite as pretty as Frank Gehry's original design.

Posted by eric at 4:00 PM

Bruce Ratner Aggravates Construction Workers by Considering Modular Buildings at Atlantic Yards

Daily Intel [NYMag.com]

While many Brooklynites and conservationists protested Bruce Ratner's massive Atlantic Yards project, one group that was steadfastly on his side was construction workers. They argued that the massive complex would be good for the local economy and drowned out local protesters with chants of "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!" But now the same supporters are agog at news that Ratner, in an effort to save money, is considering cheap and labor-light modular construction for some of the commercial and residential space on the property. The Times reports today that Forest City Ratner has been secretly looking into modular construction for nearly a year and is considering building the highest pre-fab tower ever built, at 30 stories.
...

Needless to say, we've come a long way from the jumbled, whimsical towers that original masterplanner Frank Gehry once envisioned.

link

Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

jpreardon.com

It isn’t all that surprising that Forrest City Ratner is seriously considering building a 34 story, pre-fab, modular tower to satisfy affordable housing requirements. This is just one of many promises that will be unkept on the Atlantic Yards project. This particular promise was to the construction workers who stood to gain quite a few jobs out of this project. But, modular construction means far fewer construction jobs.

There should also be some safety concerns about a modular tower that high. It’s probably not going to look all that wonderful either. Then again, I doubt anything built on that site will be all that aesthetically pleasing, prefab or not.

link

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

At the March 2010 groundbreaking, Bruce Ratner saluted union labor, to cheers, thanking them for "arm in arm support for this project" (video)

Atlantic Yards Report

Union workers might feel double-crossed by Forest City Ratner's plans for modular construction of Atlantic Yards towers, but at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Atlantic Yards arena, little more than a year ago, on 3/11/10, everything was fine.

As I reported, developer Bruce Ratner saluted union labor, now quite wary of the developer's plan for lower-cost modular construction.

"Now, 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10--union labor!" declared Ratner, to cheers, at the 5:52 mark of the video below.

Ratner cited "dozens of rallies, arm in arm support for this project. It's all about jobs! You have built this city and you will build this Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards and everything that our company does, just like you've built with us, hand in hand, for over 30 projects, in this city. Thank you, Gary LaBarbera and particularly, thank you for union workers. Thank you so much."

More cheers.

Union dismay

Today, the Times reported dismay from LaBarbera:

“This is something that could be of great consequence to the building trades,” said Gary La Barbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella group for the construction unions. “We have never been supportive of prefab buildings, for obvious reasons.”

link

NoLandGrab: But Bruce always seemed so trustworthy. We just don't get it.

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

Does modular construction mean a new environmental review is needed for Atlantic Yards?

Atlantic Yards Report

On the one hand, the modular construction considered by Bruce Ratner as a money- and time-saving solution to building towers on the Atlantic Yards site would reduce and de-concentrate typical construction activity.

On the other, the delivery of 900 modules, "lifted into place by crane and bolted together at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street," as the Times described it, could introduce a different set of impacts on traffic, or on street closures.

So too could modular construction for the rest of the site.

And, whether or not those impacts would be less significant than those already studied, these new impacts sure have not been studied.

Is the Empire State Development Corporation working on--i.e., having ubiquitous consultant AKRF write--another Technical Memorandum/Technical Analysis right now, as AKRF did in 2009 and 2010?

link

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Atlantic Yards Prefab Tower

Restless

Was there ever any doubt that Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards "affordable housing" would turn out to be a cheap highrise trailer park? Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards, NYT.

I suggest he replace the current "stacked shipping container" design... with the one above by Catherina Scholten [via greg.org].

link

NoLandGrab: That one's kinda cool. The reality could be worse. Wal-Mart by Gehry?

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

Forest City Ratner to Slap Together Prefab Tower at Atlantic Yards

mcbrooklyn

Enthusiasm is unbridled for Bruce Ratner's newly announced modular building plan.

The cheapo 34-story tower "would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site," according to the Times. If it's anything like the 15-story Ark Hotel in China -- a similar prefab project that Ratner has shown interest in, according to the Times -- the thing could be slapped together in a couple of days.

Construction workers are simply shocked that Ratner would do this. They were his most most ardent supporters, the Times says, "during years of stormy community meetings, where they drowned out neighborhood opponents with chants of 'Jobs, jobs, jobs.'"

link

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

FCR considers "world's tallest prefab steel structure" for first affordable tower; big savings, but promised union jobs, tax revenues lost, new risks

Atlantic Yards Report

In what seems to be a desperate--or maybe innovative--effort to save money and time, Forest City Ratner may build the world's tallest modular structure to deliver the affordable housing long promised as an Atlantic Yards benefit.

In doing so, however, FCR would establish its own factory to manufacture the components, severely cutting expected on-site union jobs, and presumably cutting deeply into projected tax revenues, thus upending the always optimistic estimates of project benefits.

FCR's Lego-like solution would severely antagonize union construction workers who, fulfilling requests by the developer and their own leadership, fervently and sometimes obnoxiously backed the project at rallies and public hearings.

And the bait-and-switch would continue a pattern of renegotiating contracts in order to save money.

For example, FCR in 2005 bid $100 million in cash for the rights to build on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, only to renegotiate the contract in 2009, paying only $20 million out of the $100 million pledged, with 22 years to pay the rest, at a gentle interest rate.

Also, in building a 34-story tower at first, FCR would take risks by venturing into a construction technology that is still developing, the current record-holder only rises 25 stories.
...

The tallest modular building in the world, according to a 9/2/09 article in Building Design and Construction, is Victoria Hall, a 25-story apartment tower in Wolverhampton, England. A 9/21/09 article in National Real Estate Investor calls it 24 stories.

Note the prefab appearance. Does Forest City Ratner's claim that buzzy firm SHoP will design the building apply to the modular units? Or, more likely, would SHoP merely graft a "skin" on the building, as with the Ellerbe Becket arena?

Some flaws

The Times suggests that tall modular buildings require significant bracing, but modular buildings can have their flaws. A 3/26/08 Times article describes a modular building at Yale University that was built in 2004:

“They tried to blend in the appearance of the building with what’s here already,” said Martin Dominguez, a first-year medical student who was also an undergraduate at Yale and has lived in the modular building for 18 months. “They did a reasonably good job, though the building obviously looks pretty modern relative to the other architecture.”

Mr. Dominguez said he was not happy with the quality of the dormitory’s construction — some of the walls do not quite fit together and the floor is uneven in the bathroom, he said.
...

Need for a cost-benefit analysis

[Forest City Ratner EVP MaryAnne] Gilmartin should be asked to estimate the actual number of expected jobs, as well as the total in wages. Or the Empire State Development Corporation should do so.

Such numbers should be plugged into the cost-benefit analyses conducted by the city, state, and Independent Budget Office.

Forest City is clearly under pressure to fulfill its obligations and make its expected profits. City officials denied a request for $10 million in additional housing subsidies.

article

Posted by eric at 1:53 AM

March 16, 2011

Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli

The Times's Charles Bagli has a blockbuster, and the big news isn't Bruce Ratner's fascination with unproven building techniques — it's his apparent screwing over of the construction unions.

In a bid to cut costs at his star-crossed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, the developer Bruce C. Ratner is pursuing plans to erect the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure, a 34-story tower that would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site.

The prefabricated, or modular, method he would use, which is untested at that height, could cut construction costs in half by saving time and requiring substantially fewer and cheaper workers. And if that method works, the large number of buildings planned for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards — 16 in all, not including the Nets arena, now under construction — could also make it economical for the company to run its own modular factory, where walls, ceilings, floors, plumbing and even bathrooms and kitchens could be installed in prefabricated steel-frame boxes.

The 34-story building, with roughly 400 apartments, would comprise more than 900 modules that would be hauled to Atlantic Yards, lifted into place by crane and bolted together at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, next to the arena.

Mr. Ratner’s development company, Forest City Ratner, has been investigating modular construction for a year, but has kept its plans secret. MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, confirmed Wednesday that the company was seriously considering the modular method, although, she added, no final decision had been made.
...

“The company is interested in modular, high-rise construction in an urban setting,” Ms. Gilmartin said. “It’s driven by cost and efficiencies.”

But it would also infuriate the construction workers who were Mr. Ratner’s most ardent supporters during years of stormy community meetings, where they drowned out neighborhood opponents with chants of “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“This is something that could be of great consequence to the building trades,” said Gary La Barbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an umbrella group for the construction unions. “We have never been supportive of prefab buildings, for obvious reasons.”
...

Modular construction saves time because the building components can be put together at the same time the foundation is being dug, and because the factory is indoors, weather is not a problem. Materials can be bought in greater bulk and stored on-site. More of the work is done horizontally, on the factory floor, rather than vertically, saving the time it would normally take for all the plumbers, carpenters, electricians and others to move up and down the structure every day.

But it is the labor savings that are suddenly worrying some union officials, who were repeatedly asked by Forest City to mobilize their members for years of raucous community meetings.

The state and the city agreed to provide $300 million in direct subsidies for Atlantic Yards, in part because Forest City insisted that the project would generate “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs.”

Not to worry, Ms. Gilmartin said: “We’re a union shop, and we build union.”

But under current wage scales, union workers earn less in a factory than they do on-site. A carpenter earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits on-site, but only $35 an hour in a factory.

And while modular construction employs a large number of carpenters, ironworkers, who earn as much as $93.88 an hour in pay and benefits, could lose a lot of jobs.

article

NoLandGrab: Certainly, some chickens are coming home to roost for the building trades, who were only too happy to disrupt public hearings on Atlantic Yards that were already shams. But in the end, they're just another of Bruce Ratner's many victims. Live and learn, folks.

Posted by eric at 11:00 PM

March 11, 2011

Q&A: Ellerbe Becket

Ellerbe Becket's managing principal Stephen J. Duethman on the Barclays Center and the latest design trends

Stadia Magazine

Ellerbe Becket will highlight its work for the Barclays Center at Stadia Design & Technology Expo – where are you with that project right now?
On the design side, we are completing work associated with the interior of the arena, specifically materials selection and signage. The construction is well underway, with construction of foundations, steel erection and the start of precast seating treads and risers scheduled for April this year. Also the fabrication of thousands of pieces of weathering steel is ongoing. These pieces will form the exterior façade of the facility. The biggest challenge on this project was to gain access to the entire site to continue with excavation and construction of foundations. Numerous legal challenges and the demolition of structures on the site hampered the ability to construct the project in a fluid sequence. But all parties are working together to overcome these hurdles and construction is progressing nicely towards an opening date in autumn 2012.

Wait, didn't last week's "Site Observation Report" indicate that the arena, as Norman Oder reported, "could be used in June and July?"

How is new technology, particularly digital technology, impacting on your ideas?
...the event space and seating bowl are designed so that patrons at the exterior plaza will have a view into the seating bowl through a large corner vomitory...

We'll be giving that wide berth. Of course, better there than on a quiet Park Slope sidewalk following some post-game revelry at Prime 6.

What’s your dream project?
I have had many opportunities over the past 18 years on some really important projects that have impacted communities and college campuses. But the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards is truly a spectacular opportunity to impact the city of Brooklyn and surrounding communities.

article

NoLandGrab: Funny, but it's the potential impact of the arena on surrounding communities that's got people worried.

Posted by eric at 11:08 PM

March 10, 2011

Arena slightly ahead of schedule, consultant reports, but "schedule disputes" linger; report reissued after chart errors found

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee, dated 3/3/11 and based on a visit 1/31/11, the Barclays Center is still on schedule, but questions remain:

The original High Level Arena Summary Construction Schedule, dated July 16, 2010, has been provided for our review. The current schedule, prepared by Hunt, indicates that substantial completion is anticipated to be by August 12, 2012. The Developer is currently reviewing that schedule and is working with Hunt to resolve current schedule disputes. A resolution is expected over the next few months.

Note that resolution of such disputes was originally expected in December.

An early substantial completion date of June 1, 2012, has been established, which means that the arena could be used in June and July.

article

Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

March 1, 2011

Barclays Center Taking Shape

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
Photo by Kristen V. Brown

More photos here.

Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

February 18, 2011

Construction Progresses on Barclays Arena

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Linda Collins

Add this to the inevitability of death and taxes — a piece in the Eagle every couple weeks or so regurgitating the Atlantic Yards pablum spouted by a Forest City Ratner exec.

“We are making extraordinary progress on the Barclays Center,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial development at Forest City Ratner. “The steel is rising and the decking is visible. We will be watching [Nets] basketball games in the 2012-13 season.”

Gilmartin was speaking at the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable quarterly luncheon at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Feb. 8.

Gilmartin also told attendees that people coming out of the new subway exit on the Barclays Arena plaza will immediately see the sports center’s scoreboard inside, and people will also be able to see the team at play in the arena’s practice facility from the plaza.

link

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

February 15, 2011

News from the Construction Update: water main work, transit work (and outages), Flatbush Avenue snags continue

Atlantic Yards Report

Here are some highlights from the latest Construction Update (embedded below), dated February 14 and prepared by Forest City Ratner and released by the Empire State Development Corporation.
...

There are several track outages associated with repair work:

  • Demolition of the TA structures continues. IRT and BMT Tunnel inspections have taken place and repair work will be implemented during scheduled NYCT track outages during evenings and weekends. IRT Track Outages are now scheduled for the weekends of February 5th and 19th. BMT Track Outages are now scheduled for March 5th, 12th and April 19th. Additional GO’s for both the IRT and BMT will be evaluated as the work progresses. Minor repair and cleanup work will occur on selective evenings under scheduled NYCT flagging protection.

Plastic bollards still out

As noted at the last Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting last Thursday, since the post-Christmas storm, the plastic bollards used to implement reversible lanes on Flatbush Avenue below Atlantic Avenue during rush hour were mangled and unusable, and remain as such:

  • MPT [Maintenance and Protection of Traffic] @ Flatbush Ave - Maintenance of the MPT has been suspended due to the recent snow storms experienced over the last month. At this time the MPT is still in place but the lane changes are not being performed until the weather condition permit. We have advised the DOT that once the weather permits; the MPT will be restored and maintained.

As shown in the Construction Updates embedded below, this was announced in the previous document, dated 1/31/11, but not in the 1/17/11 one, though this all started after Christmas. I didn't notice until it came up at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet.

article

Posted by eric at 12:22 PM

Hold the shovels! Ratner backtracks on residential construction schedule

The Brooklyn Paper
by Andy Campbell

Developers of the Atlantic Yards project were caught red-faced last week when one of the development company’s officials said that construction of the project’s first residential building would begin this year — but then had to admit that no financing has been lined up.

Forest City Ratner Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told real-estate insiders on Wednesday that construction of the long-delayed, 400-unit residential tower at the western end of the mega-project’s footprint would get underway this year, but the next day, a spokesman for the company admitted that the developer doesn’t have money for the project.

“We hope to release designs in late spring or early summer and still hope to break ground this year,” the spokesman said. “[But] they need to secure financing.”

History — and the economy — is not on Forest City Ratner’s side, at least in the short term. Last year, company executive Jane Marshall also said that a groundbreaking on the half-below-market-rate rental building would take place in 2010.

article

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

February 10, 2011

FCR pushes back timetable for Building 2, hopes for groundbreaking by end of year, says SHoP will design that first tower

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite happy talk by Forest City Ratner executives about a groundbreaking this year for the first arena block tower, and a mini-scoop by the Observer that the architect will be SHoP (designers of the arena facade), the real news is this: the tower is again delayed, and may not start this year, given the difficulty of getting financing.

(About a year ago, the plan was to break ground by the end of 2010.)

At a meeting this morning at Borough Hall of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, involving various involved agencies. City Council Member Letitia James asked about the timetable for the affordable housing.

The first building, at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, would have about 400 units, 50 percent subsidized, divided into 30 percent middle- and moderate-income and 20 percent low-income.

"We're working on the design of that building," responded Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall. "We've been making progress--it's not been as fast as we wanted it to be." And while FCR had hoped to announce the design around this time, "I think it'll be closer to the second quarter."

She later specified "probably the end of May or early June."
...

"We still believe we can get in the ground in 2011, and that’s our goal," Marshall said. "It's been a complicated procedure, because we are not only looking at design, we've been talking to the financing community... As you know, it's dire out there."

Unclear is whether this building, given the somewhat complicated site, costs more per unit than comparable projects. Forest City aims to use off-the-shelf housing subsidies, including the city's financing for such 50/30/20 buildings, but also needs to raise private money.

What is clear is that, if the arena proceeds on schedule, and opens in the summer/fall of 2012, it will not be accompanied by the opening of a residential building, as initially planned.

article

Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

First residential building at AY to break ground this year

The Real Deal
by Candace Taylor

Within the year, Brooklyn may see the start of construction on the first residential building at the Atlantic Yards, the opening of a new outdoor market in Downtown Brooklyn and sales commencing at new residential condominium 20 Henry.

Members of the real estate community received these and other development updates yesterday at the first installment of the 2011 Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable series.

Speakers at the event, held at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights, included Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; John Rhea, the chairman of the New York City Housing Authority; and MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial development and leasing at Forest City Ratner Companies, who gave an update on the Barclays Center Arena.
...

The first residential building on the site will be a 50-30-20 project, she said, meaning 20 percent of the apartments will be reserved for low-income tenants, 30 percent for middle-income tenants and the rest for market-rate renters. She said Forest City Ratner hopes to begin construction this year.

article

NoLandGrab: Like Norman Oder (see below), we'll believe it when we see it.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, First AY residential building to break ground this year?

The headline in the Real Deal is First residential building at AY to break ground this year, but the actual quote is this, from Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin:

She said Forest City Ratner hopes to begin construction this year.

A year ago, however, another executive said they planned to break ground in the fourth quarter of 2010.

In other words, headlines shouldn't be definitive.

NY Observer, SHoP Scores First Apartment Building at Atlantic Yards

Back in September, when Ratner and SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli unveiled new designs for the public plaza at the foot of the Barclays Center arena, the architect said he would love to design some of the project's buildings, though his primary concern was executing the masterplan. "SHoP's goal is to make sure it's a beautiful and cohesive whole," he said at the time.

Well, it looks like Pasquarelli will be getting his wish after all, as The Observer has learned the firm has been tapped to design B2, the first apartment building planned for the site, along Dean Street on the southeast corner of the arena.

Curbed, First Atlantic Yards Apartment Building Breaking Ground This Year?

The Real Deal has a great roundup of all the tidbits of news from yesterday's Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable, an always-sunny confab of developers and others with a stake in the borough's bricks and mortar. The headline is the update from a Forest City Ratner exec on the progress at Atlantic Yards, where the first apartment building (of the 16 that are still somehow planned) is expected to break ground this year.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Historical Society Receives $93K From Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable Series

Besides telling attendees about seeing the scoreboard from the subway exit at the new arena, MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial development at Forest City Ratner, said people will also be able to see the arena’s practice facility from the plaza.

“We are making extraordinary progress on the Barclays Center,” she said. “The steel is rising and the decking is visible. We will be watching basketball games in the 2012-13 season.”

NLG: Yeah, but will be watching them in Newark?

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

February 7, 2011

News from the (delayed) Construction Update: ramps on Dean Street, demolitions continue, long-term visual mockup of "weathered steel façade panels"

Atlantic Yards Report

As attention falls off from Atlantic Yards, does the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the agency in charge of oversight, slack off?

The Atlantic Yards Construction Update--aka two-week look-ahead--dated January 31 (embedded below) was sent out four days late, on February 3.

Why, I asked ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell, who responded February 4, "ESDC attempts to distribute the Construction Updates every other Monday. On rare occasions there are delays if construction issues are still in flux."

Given that the updates come from Forest City Ratner, there's a good chance that the ESDC simply had its hands tied.

article

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

February 1, 2011

"Resolution... expected over the next few months" regarding arena construction schedule disputes (which were to be resolved in December)

Atlantic Yards Report

Speaking of construction...

Is the Atlantic Yards arena on schedule? Despite happy talk from Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark in the 1/26/11 New York Times, we can't be certain.

The latest Site Observation Report [PDF], from consultants (to the bond trustee) Merritt & Harris, has been released, dated 1/28/11 and based on a 12/21/10 visit.

The previous report indicated that "there is a meeting anticipated for mid-December to resolve current schedule disputes."

That wasn't enough. Here's the update:

A High Level Arena Summary Construction Schedule, dated July 16, 2010, has been provided for our review. The current schedule, prepared by Hunt, indicates that substantial completion is anticipated to be by August 12, 2012. The Developer is currently reviewing that schedule and is working with Hunt to resolve current schedule disputes. A resolution is expected over the next few months.

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NoLandGrab: There might be a silver lining, after all, to all this cursed snow.

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

Atlantic Yards on the Rise

A monthly photo essay documenting the construction of the Atlantic Yards development and the Barclays Center, which the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets will soon call home.

Park Slope Patch
by Kristen V. Brown

The first signs of the Barclays Center are beginning to peek up over the blue wall encasing the Atlantic Yards development. Steel girders are looming over Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, and construction workers now can be seen balancing on the beams that will form the structure of the basketball arena that developer Bruce Ratner hopes to open for the 2012-2013 season.

This month, there were developments behind the scenes, too — last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped Cobble Hill native and former Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Kenneth Adams to run the Empire State Development Agency, which oversees the project, along with Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Every month, we'll take a look at the progress the work crews are making. As the Barclays Center and the rest of the development rise along the neighborhood’s border, we'll take note as each beam is raised, each wall is erected and each building demolished.

Click thru for more photos.

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NoLandGrab: Bruce is probably done demolishing for a while, since he's not going to knock anything down until he's ready to build something other than the arena, which may be a long way off. Or never.

Photo: Kristen V. Brown/Park Slope Patch

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

January 25, 2011

New Arena for the Nets Is Sprouting in Brooklyn

The New York Times
by Jonathan Abrams

Someone at The Times dropped the ball and allowed an article to make it into today's paper about Nets tickets selling for less than the price of a stick of gum, so in the interest of "balance," tomorrow's paper will include this non-news fluffery.

After several years of legal wrangling and the economic downturn, the Barclays Center is finally and firmly on the way after ground was broken last year.

“It got delayed so much and there were so many false starts, ‘I think we’re there, I think we’re there,’ and then the economy got bad and this thing happened and that thing happened, so unless you read carefully, you don’t realize how far along it is and that it’s really on its way,” Ratner said.

He spoke Tuesday from the 14th floor of a bank building across the street from the construction in Prospect Heights as snow fell and workers pieced together parts of the upper bowl. The arena is expected to open in the summer of 2012 and also host boxing, tennis and other events. The Nets will attempt to tap into the Knicks’ stranglehold of New York City and hired the marketing agency Translation, led by the recording executive Steve Stoute, to promote the brand.

“I think Brooklyn has been waiting for this, really, since the Dodgers left,” Ratner said.

The opposition that clogged the arena’s path would probably disagree. Ratner — a development partner of The New York Times in building its current headquarters — once doubted that the arena would be built when the economy collapsed, but regained optimism once the Yankees gained financing for their new stadium.

That's us, clogging the path of progress like an oversized dump. Didn't have anything to do with eminent domain abuse, backroom deals, massive subsidies, rigged environmental studies... shall we go on?

And now, a word from Mr. Credibility.

Brett Yormark, the Nets’ chief executive, said he expected no further delays.

“None whatsoever, and I don’t have my blinders on because I’m open to see any and all obstacles,” he said. “But we’re full speed ahead all the way.”

article

Posted by eric at 10:40 PM

January 15, 2011

Factchecking a video of arena construction

Atlantic Yards Report

NLG has the story, linking to Hunt Construction Group, which posted a video shot by the Ironworkers Local 361. No, there aren't 16,000 jobs.

On the Barclays Center site, the link goes to NetsDaily, their unswerving booster.

link

Posted by steve at 11:40 AM

After the last snowstorm, a better job on clearing sidewalks around the AY site (but still a few gaps)

Atlantic Yards Report

After the most recent snowfall, Forest City Ratner cleared the sidewalks bordering Atlantic Yards--more or less. This contrasts with sidewalks left un-shoveled after the December 26 snowstorm.

On Wednesday afternoon, January 12, I took a walk around the site, more or less, and saw most of the sidewalks had been cleared.

Two stretches were not cleared: most of the east side of Sixth between Dean and Pacific, and about one-fifth of the north side of Pacific between Sixth and Carlton just east of Sixth.

I checked with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which has overall responsibility for the site. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded:

"ESDC received several complaints regarding snow removal last week, and directed FCRC to improve their efforts. We are pleased with their overall effort. Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific on the east side continues to be problematic due to the proliferation of illegally parked cars, prohibiting easy access for snow removal equipment. The west side of Sixth Avenue, however, is totally clear of snow. The stretch on Pacific Street just east of Sixth is the subject of a dispute between the LIRR and city DOT, which ESDC is hoping will soon be resolved."

link

Posted by steve at 11:37 AM

January 14, 2011

Barclays Center construction time-lapse

Landmarks

We normally post Atlantic Yards construction videos from the like of Raul Rothblatt or Tracy Collins, but this one comes via Hunt Construction Group, the general contractor building the arena.

Ironworkers Local 361 recently posted a seven-minute video of construction at Barclays Center, including a time-lapse of recent steel erection work at the site. The 675,000-square-foot Design-Build arena will be the future home of NBA’s Brooklyn Nets upon completion in August 2012. Hunt is working closely with architects Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects on delivering a facility with a truly unique look and feel. The area is part of the major Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn, New York.

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NoLandGrab: You may find this surprising, but the voiceover to the video gets a few things wrong! Here are just a few:

  • The project is not only "located over the MTA and LIRR Vanderbilt railyards," but over the former homes of quite a few former residents, displaced via eminent domain abuse.
  • 16,000 union construction jobs? Hardly. For one thing, those are job-years, and we thought the claim was 15,000. For another, there were only 325 people on the job in November.
  • 8,000 permanent jobs? Plainly speaking, that figure is pure bull.
  • Current industrial area? What industries? Homeownership?
  • Parks? You mean, like, privately owned parks that are only open when Forest City wants them open?

Also, it looks like most of the jobs for women and minority workers must come during a different phase of construction.

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

January 13, 2011

Arena construction progress marked, but consultant says schedule not fully clear; early completion dates announced for building components

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote 12/21/10 that there was still fuzziness to the arena construction schedule and, according to the latest report the developer, state, and bond trustee by the consultant Merritt & Harris, those issues remain unresolved.

The report is dated 1/3/11 but based on an 11/23/10 site observation, so that preceded an expected mid-December meeting "to resolve current schedule disputes."

Arena components

The document also offers some very specific start and completion dates for arena components. See below and click to enlarge.

...

Given the "early target substantial completion date of June 1, 2012," the owner may use and occupy the Arena, though it presumably may be hard to hold concerts if seating is not installed until August 7, as indicated on the schedule above.

While the arena is expected to be ready for the October 2012 basketball pre-season, punch list work and subcontractor close-outs may mean the final completion date would be February 28, 2013.

According to the General Contractor, 325 people were on the job in November.

link

NoLandGrab: 325 people on the job in November represent exactly 2.166667% of the promised "15,000 construction jobs."

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

January 8, 2011

Demolition on Block 1129, Hot Bird going down: Photos by Adrian Kinloch

Atlantic Yards Report

Most of the remaining buildings on the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site, Block 1129, are being demolished, and Adrian Kinloch (aka Brit in Brooklyn) took some copyrighted photos, of which one is below, looking northwest at Vanderbilt Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets.

The tower in the background is the Atlantic Terminal public housing building, while the broader building is 470 Vanderbilt, slated to hold HRA offices.

Note that not every building is going down, since one is being saved for construction offices, despite official promises to the court that everything needed to be demolished quickly. The rest will serve as construction staging and interim surface parking.

link

Posted by steve at 8:58 AM

December 22, 2010

Atlantic Yards Actually Looks Like Something Now

Curbed
by Joey Arak

A month after steel first started going up at the site, the Barclays Center arena is starting to take, well, some sort of shape. Chopper 880 was in the Brooklyn airspace this morning and came back with a gallery aerial shots of Atlantic Yardsville. Isn't it crazy how such a big piece of prime Brooklyn land was left empty until this project came along?

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: "Isn't it crazy how such a big piece of prime Brooklyn land was left empty until this project came along?"

We think Norman Oder took Curbed a bit too literally, but he did post an interesting graphic from photographer Tracy Collins.

Well, there was a working railyard at the northern half of the arena site (the bottom of the photo at right), which had to be put up for sale--not that Forest City Ratner didn't have the inside track to get the railyard, and to get the deal renegotiated.

And there were three rows of buildings, on Dean and Pacific streets, as well at along Flatbush Avenue, at the southern half of the arena site.

Posted by eric at 10:14 PM

The Atlantic Yards timetable, and the significance of a decade unstudied

Atlantic Yards Report

As I wrote 12/15/10, noting that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) did consider a potential five-year delay in the Atlantic Yards timetable, ESDC attorney Philip Karmel stated in a legal affirmation:

Remarkably, the five-year legal battle over Atlantic Yards has thus come down to this: a dispute as to whether the 2009 Technical Memorandum should have assumed a 25-year build out instead of a 15-year build out in its analysis of the environmental impacts of a market-driven delay in the schedule for the Project's development.

He seemed to be suggesting that ten years is an insignificant interval, even for an interim surface parking lot.

The timetable case will be heard today at noon in Manhattan Supreme Court before state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, at 60 Centre Street, IAS MOTION Part 57, Room 335.

The significance of a decade

As for Karmel's statement, it all depends on perspective, right? Consider some alternatives in which the difference between 15 and 25 is significant.

  1. Remarkably, it has come to this: whether we think the warranty on the boiler should last 15 years rather than 25.
  2. Remarkably, it has come to this: whether the pill should be 15 mg, not 25.
  3. Remarkably, it has come to this: whether he should have known that the female was 15 rather than, as she said, 25.

link

Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

Construction Hums Along On Barclays Center

CBSNewYork.com

Photo: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880

Right now, they are the New Jersey Nets. That is set to change for the 2012-2013 NBA season.

That’s when the Nets, who currently play at the Prudential Center in Newark, are set to move into the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

Tom Kaminski flew over in Chopper 880 on Wednesday to take a look at construction of the arena. CLICK HERE to see more of his photos.

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NoLandGrab: Wow, flying over at 3,000 feet, it hardly seems neighborhood-destroying at all.

Related coverage...

Gothamist, Aerial Photos Show "Progress" At Atlantic Yards Project

The indispensable John Del Signore offers his take.

CBS 880's Tom Kaminski has obtained dramatic photographic evidence of construction at the controversial Atlantic Yards development/parking lot. The big arena that may one day be the home of the Brooklyn New Yorkers (currently the New Jersey Nets) seems to be coming along, despite numerous lawsuits attempting to stop it. Today, in fact, opponents of the project will square off in court against the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). A coalition of community groups wants a court order to halt all construction because the ESDC's environmental impact statement analyzed Atlantic Yards as a 10-year construction project. Now it's expected to take a quarter century, and critics want the environmental impact reconsidered.

NLG: Be sure to check out the photo caption here.

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

December 18, 2010

Unlike Brooklyn, Manhattan construction impacts get ink in Times; BP Stringer wants oversight entity

Atlantic Yards Report

Even as the New York Times (natch) ignores the Empire State Development Corporation's meeting to massage Atlantic Yards, during which Prospect Heights residents complained about the impact of current and future construction, the newspaper today presents a sympathetic profile of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, experiencing Second Avenue subway construction.

Of course the latter project is much bigger and has a much bigger impact, but it's also more clearly a civic project.

The article offers another contrast with Atlantic Yards:

And he has called for an independent agency to supervise the project’s construction, similar to a group created in 2004 to oversee redevelopment in Lower Manhattan.

Stringer's Brooklyn counterpart, Marty Markowitz, has not endorsed such an oversight entity, despite support from local groups and elected officials.

link

Posted by steve at 8:00 AM

December 4, 2010

An Arena Grows In Brooklyn ~ December 2010

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

This latest look at the BARCLAYS CENTER construction site is as-of December 2, 2010. The arena is finally taking form.

...

Future home of Professional Basketball in Brooklyn.

link

NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards will also be a permanent symbol of bad urban planning and corruption.

Posted by steve at 8:06 AM

December 3, 2010

Carlton Bridge demo 12-2-10

raulism via YouTube

Wow! Bruce Ratner is finally getting around to finishing the demolition of the Carlton Avenue bridge — almost a year after he was supposed to be finished rebuilding it!

link

Related coverage...

raulistic via flickr, Carlton Demo 12-2-10

More of raulistic's Atlantic Yards construction videos...

Walking Vanderbilt railyards

AY Construction 12-2-10

AY workers & girders 12-2-10

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

November 27, 2010

The latest from Atlantic Yards

A Daily Photo of Brooklyn, New York

Things are happening at Atlantic Yards; construction proceeds. A guy who was taking pictures next to me can’t wait for the sports arena to be finished. He was telling his friend that he can practically hear the sound of a bouncing basketball.

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NoLandGrab: If you wait for those quieter moments, you can hear the sucking sound of all the city and state subsidies being siphoned off for an arena that will provide no economic benefit.

Posted by steve at 7:50 AM

New York Photos of the Week Nov 13 - Nov 26

The Wall Street Journal

The first steel beams are erected at the Barclays Center at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. Roughly 10,500 tons of steel will be used in creating a new arena for the New Jersey Nets. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)

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Posted by steve at 7:43 AM

November 26, 2010

Hoop Dreams: Steel Erection Going Up at Ratner's Barclays Center

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Here's a story we failed to observe on Tuesday.

The Atlantic Yards play opened last night in Brooklyn, but the real drama is onsite at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic. A ballet of steel beams is dancing as the arena-that-almost-wasn't gets underway. No more digging, no more demolishing—it's all up from here for the SHoP-designed Barclays Center, the future home the Brooklyn Nets.

A spokesman for developer Forest City Ratner said the project remains on schedule, meaning it should be finished by the summer of 2012, with time to spare before the start of the season. Plans also remain in place to unveil designs for the first apartment tower early next year and to break ground on that project, which would be 50 percent affordable, by the summer. A second tower will follow six to nine months after that. Ratner is still seeking financing for the project, including the somewhat controversial EB-5 visa program, which is still awaiting federal approval.

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NoLandGrab: Unless, of course, project opponents succeed in their quest for a stay on further construction. Then all bets are off.

Posted by eric at 11:29 AM

November 24, 2010

Steel goes up at arena site, Markowitz proclaims full project benefits await, DDDB will seek stay on construction

Atlantic Yards Report

As predicted by Forest City Ratner officials, they've ordered steel for the Barclays Center arena, and erection of the steel began yesterday, according to a Nets press release.

From developer Bruce Ratner:

“The installation of steel is always a major milestone for a construction project,” said Mr. Ratner. “With the foundation work largely done, we are now poised to go vertical. Over the next several months, the Barclays Center will begin to take on the iconic shape that we believe will make the arena a worldwide destination and Brooklyn an international city.”

And Marty Markowitz takes the opportunity to leap, without foundation, from arena progress to project fruition:

“Progress on the Barclays Center spells great things for Brooklyn and its future,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “This project will bring jobs, affordable housing and economic opportunity, as well as a triumphant return to major league sports for the greatest fans in the world—Brooklynites.”

NetsDaily rounds up the ritual coverage.

article

The Brooklyn Paper, Ratner is finally a man of steel as first girders go up

Project opponents were far less effusive about the work — particularly in light of a recent court ruling that found that the state agency overseeing the development withheld information to avoid having to examine the project’s negative impacts.

“We believe that they have no business going forward,” said Candace Carponter, the legal director for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which has opposed the development. “They are rushing to get as much in the ground as they can before we seek a stay from the court.”

NY1, Steel Beams Rise At Site Of New Brooklyn Arena

Prospect Heights Patch, Steel is Erected

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Nets Brooklyn arena finally taking shape

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Barclays Arena ‘Goes Vertical’

Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

November 23, 2010

BARCLAYS CENTER PRESS RELEASE: Steel for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Begins to go Vertical

World-Class Arena on Schedule to Open Summer 2012

via NBA.com

The erection of steel began today at the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the arena, said today. The first components for vertical construction, including beams, girders and trusses, will be used for the main arena, façade support and the canopy.

“The installation of steel is always a major milestone for a construction project,” said Mr. Ratner. “With the foundation work largely done, we are now poised to go vertical. Over the next several months, the Barclays Center will begin to take on the iconic shape that we believe will make the arena a worldwide destination and Brooklyn an international city.”

“Progress on the Barclays Center spells great things for Brooklyn and its future,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “This project will bring jobs, affordable housing and economic opportunity, as well as a triumphant return to major league sports for the greatest fans in the world—Brooklynites.”

Steel erection will begin between the Event and Main Concourse level and progress east in a clockwise direction. Most of the initial activity will be along Atlantic Avenue.

One hundred tons of steel arrived at the site last week. Approximately 10,500 tons of steel will be used for the Barclays Center. The structural steel is being fabricated by Banker Steel Company in Lynchburg, VA. Steel will be erected in the field by J.F. Stearns Company and Ironworkers Local 40 using Liebherr LR 1300 and 1350 crawler cranes.

The Barclays Center is on schedule to open in the summer of 2012.

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NoLandGrab: The erection may not last long, as opponents of the arena are sure to follow their November 9th legal victory with a motion to stay construction activities.

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

November 14, 2010

Buildings Come Down, Walls Go Up

Prospect Heights Patch
By Graydon Gordian

Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner acknowledged in September that, because of the economic downturn and litigation regarding the Atlantic Yards development, certain aspects of the plan to develop the railyards along Atlantic Avenue would be delayed.

With an increasingly unclear timeline for completion, we feel the best way to know exactly what's going on is to track the development's progress ourselves: brick by brick.

That's why, every month, we'll be taking a look at the progress the crews down on Flatbush and Atlantic are making. As the Barclays Center and the rest of the development rise along Prospect Heights' Northeastern corner, we'll take note as each beam is raised and each wall is erected.

Since we last checked in on the development, much has changed. 636 Pacific St., which formerly housed Freddy's Bar, was torn down, and concrete walls were erected in the bowels of the construction site.

link

NoLandGrab: 636 Pacific was the building where DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein's condo was located, not Freddie's Backroom. A small error can be forgiven for anyone who plans to follow construction of Atlantic Yards for the next 25 years.

Posted by steve at 12:01 PM

November 13, 2010

Art Installation Adorns Atlantic Yards

Prospect Heights Patch
By Graydon Gordian

Here's another dispatch from the "Lipstick On A Pig" department.

Whether you support or oppose the Atlantic Yards development, most people can agree that the construction site isn't exactly the prettiest plot of property in the neighborhood.

However, if you happen to walk past the chain-link fence that shields the site's northern border, you won't see rusty metal, wafting dirt or idle cranes. You'll see an intricate and colorful geometric pattern stretching along Atlantic Avenue.

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NoLandGrab: If you happen to walk next to this fence, you'd better cross the street. You're in the middle of 5 lanes of traffic.

Posted by steve at 6:46 AM

November 12, 2010

Closing Bell: Atlantic Yards Urban Canvas

Brownstoner
by Emily Nonko

We noticed an art design go up along the construction fence along Atlantic Avenue, although it's hard to get a good look at it with all the traffic whizzing by. Turns out this is the first installation from the Urban Canvas Design Competition which selected four pieces to go up temporarily on construction fences and sidewalk sheds. We couldn't get a great picture of the whole thing but it extends about 200 feet.

link

Posted by eric at 9:25 AM

November 11, 2010

Latest Peek at Atlantic Yards Construction Site

BrooklynTrolleyBlogger

BTB gets all misty over the prospect of a pro sports franchise in Kings County.

It seems like a millennium has passed since the original plan to bring the Nets to Brooklyn was announced back in 2003. It was a long, rough and tumble, hard fought struggle for Bruce Ratner, and still, his problems have not subsided. There was a time when Brooklynites, to include myself, thought this project and the eventual relocation of the Nets would never happen. And while much of the greater Atlantic Yards project is still in questionable status, the Barclays Center site is buzzing with activity. Mikhail Prokhorov has since been added to the equation as the team's new principle [sic] owner and the appreciable progress being made in construction have excited this Brooklynite. It is with great anticipation I await the Nets arrival into the Borough and by that, reinstating our Professional status; stripped from us in 1957. Two years is still a long ways away and anything can happen between now and then. But this giant concrete circle in the ground at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush is a signal that our day is coming.

link

NoLandGrab: "Principle" owner? There's nothing principled about Atlantic Yards.

Photo: BrooklynTrolleyBlogger

Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

November 7, 2010

After bringing public art to the Atlantic Avenue construction fence, what about "icebergs" for the empty lots on the Atlantic Yards site?

Atlantic Yards Report

A bone has been thrown to the public in the form of a clever artwork that is a colorful painting on the construction fence surrounding the construction site of the new Nets arena. In light of the imminent Atlantic Lots, this blog post suggests an additional art installation to cover up acres of non-development.

And while no one has yet discussed it regarding Atlantic Yards, one architectural firm has suggested a solution for the many stalled construction sites across the city.

The Icebergs NYC project, according to Woods Bagot both solves a problem and creates an opportunity:

Big in volume and light on resources, like their namesakes, these 100% recyclable structures have been designed to turn stalled construction sites into unique, multi-purpose spaces. Icebergs NYC provides an iconic venue for a variety of functions, while creating a revenue stream on an otherwise dormant site. Designed for quick assembly and disassembly, the modular structures are constructed of a steel frame topped by inflated pillows of ETFE to create a dynamic, memorable form. Transportable in a single shipping container, Icebergs can quickly be set adrift to sites in cities around the world.

Further coverage

Here's 6/21/10 coverage in Crain's, headlined Designer Floats Iceberg Idea for Stalled Building Sites:

"Owners and developers are spending money every day to cover these idle sites, and people are hesitant to build on them in the meantime," [Woods Bagot New York Principal Jeff Holmes] said. "We wanted to make something high quality with a real presence to attract top-notch venues."

So, the firm is proposing flexible and modular spaces that can be put in the place of these vacant lots, but can also be quickly removed if and when the primary stalled project is resurrected. Woods Bagot created modular steel beams with a thin film of plastic stretched over them. The coating weighs less than one-tenth that of a typical roof structure much less glass curtain wall, but has high insulation qualities.

The firm, which was founded 141 years ago in Adelaide, Australia, has yet to build any icebergs, but it is in talks with several developers. Eventually Woods Bagot hopes not to have a few of them floating temporarily around New York but around the nation as well, where stalled sites are nothing if not more common than they are here.

link

Posted by steve at 12:56 PM

November 5, 2010

At first, non-promoted AY cabinet meeting, Forest City Ratner brings staff and support, gets warm welcome, talks parking, construction

Atlantic Yards Report

Just when you thought Atlantic Yards couldn't get any less transparent. Thank goodness for Norman Oder.

Remember the promise at the 9/29/10 meeting on the planned Barclays Center plaza that there would be regular meetings, with representatives of government agencies, community boards, elected officials, and the Empire State Development Corporation, along with developer Forest City Ratner?

Well, the first meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet was held yesterday at Brooklyn Borough Hall, lasting about 70 minutes, going through issues like construction progress, parking, and traffic.

The hosts were the Brooklyn Borough President's Office and Council Member Letitia James, but it was really the Forest City Ratner show, with MaryAnne Gilmartin, the developer's Executive VP, and her colleagues doing most of the talking.

The cabinet will meet quarterly to discuss construction and other issues. About 40 people attended, most because they had to be there and, while some of them (notably James) brought questions, there was no opportunity for members of the public to pose questions on the spot, as is the protocol for a "working meeting.

It was a convivial event, with Empire State Development Corporation Project Manager Arana Hankin heaping praise on Forest City Ratner's cooperation. The only other ESDC staffer there was project ombudsman Forrest Taylor, and when James had a question about parking as reported in an ESDC document, it was answered by FCR's attorney. (As I wrote, the answer was wrong.)

Future CBA discussions?

The closest thing to contention came when Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman questioned why a future meeting would examine the Community Benefits Agreement, a private deal between Forest City Ratner and eight community groups, which excluded community boards.

James, an Atlantic Yards opponent, indicated that she felt a responsibility to represent constituents who had expressed concerns about CBA implementation, and Carlo Scissura, the Borough President's Chief of Staff, similarly said the CBA was something they had to deal with.

Dean Street blocked

Another moment of concern surfaced when James described how double- and triple-parking outside a church on Dean Street had blocked the Fire Department at one point; FCR said it was exploring offering temporary access to a project site parking lot on Sundays.

Little public notice

Why didn't you hear about the meeting beforehand? Because, while the meeting was not closed to the public--there is an open meetings law--it was not promoted to the public, nor were those invited encouraged to tell their constituency.

Thus neither elected officials nor community boards sent out notices. I heard about it secondhand. (See bottom for my somewhat tense exchange with Scissura and James.) No date has been set yet for the next meeting.

article

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

Nets Set Up Web Cam at Arena Site

SportsNewsEdge

Starting Thursday, there will be regular imagery updates on construction progress at Barclays Center, the Nets have announced. The imagery will be provided by EarthCam, which uses daily imagery to create time-lapse videos of construction sites, as it did with the New Meadowlands Stadium. Tracy Collins, a critic of Atlantic Yards, has been posting his own time-lapse videos of demolition and construction on Vimeo.

As part of that announcement, the team states the first structural steel will rise at the arena in “less than two weeks” and that concrete has already been poured “on more than 50%” of the arena foundation.

link

NoLandGrab: Of course, Forest City Ratner has had countless spy cams trained on the site for years — some of them on other people's property.

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

October 27, 2010

The view from Dean Street: early-morning construction; the demolition of 636 Pacific Street

Atlantic Yards Report

City zoning prohibits sports facilities from being built within 200 feet of residences, but that zoning was overridden by the Empire State Development Corporation in the case of Atlantic Yards.

So those on the south side of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues have some bird's-eye views of the site.

First, a video shot at about 7:15 am today by a neighborhood resident.

Below, a photo of 636 Pacific Street, the last building in the footprint, shot yesterday by Battle of Brooklyn documentary filmmaker Mike Galinsky.

link

Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards Construction Site Gets A Face Lift

WNYC Radio
by Janaya Williams

Artist Mauricio Lopez designed the bold geometric patterns of “Color Mesh,” now adorning the construction fence along one side of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project.

Lopez was one of four winners of last month’s urbancanvas design contest, which invited artists to beautify construction sites with artwork suitable for fences, sheds, and scaffolds—structures that protect the public during the construction process.

article

NoLandGrab: No offense to Mr. Lopez, but that's just lipstick on pork.

Photo: WNYC

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

October 26, 2010

News from the Construction Alert: 636 Pacific on the way down (remembered by Brownstoner), Urban Canvas program will beautify construction fence

Atlantic Yard Report

The Empire State Development Corporation hasn't posted a Construction Update, but according to the latest Update, aka Construction Alert (below), all but one of the buildings on the arena block have been demolished, with that last building--and three smaller ones on the southeast block, Block 1129--under demolition.

That last building, of course, is 636 Pacific Street, the rehabbed warehouse dubbed the Atlantic Arts building and known as the home of Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, until he agreed to a settlement in April. Demolition is expected to be completed next month.

(Photo and set by Tracy Collins)

In a coincidence that could only be described as brutally weird, today Brownstoner featured 636 Pacific as the Building of the Day. The pseudonymous Montrose Morris wrote:

Had this building been anywhere else, it would easily have been eligible for landmarking, as it is a rare example of [Chep] Kingsley's work in NY, as well as for its intrinsic beauty on its own, especially with the wealth of terra-cotta in the colors, materials and motifs here. The details are in excellent shape, and it is a rare piece of commercial architecture of this type and from this era. Wastefully, it will soon be rubble. I hope the terra-cotta is salvagable. That, and pictures will be all that is left. As one commenter suggested, salvage is unlikely.

FCR's claims of delay were overblown

Note that the affidavit filed by Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin in April warned (p. 22, or p. 67 of the overall document) of the enormous costs of delay, claiming it "may take several months to perform the work necessary to prepare for actual demolition" of 636 Pacific, and it would "take an additional several months--approximately five months is the current estimate--to perform and complete the actual demolition."

Actually, a demolition permit was filed in mid-September, which means the work would wind up taking two months.

article

NoLandGrab: As we've said before, the next time someone from Forest City Ratner speaks the truth will also be the first time someone from Forest City Ratner speaks the truth.

Posted by eric at 12:36 PM

October 18, 2010

Is Atlantic Yards on schedule? Not beyond the arena and infrastructure

Atlantic Yards Report

What's the schedule for Atlantic Yards? I queried the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and got the following response from spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell:

With respect to the arena, transit improvements and Carlton Avenue Bridge, the schedule remains unchanged. Construction is expected to be completed in advance of the 2012 Basketball Season (Fall 2012).

With respect to the overall Project Schedule – we have not updated the schedule set forth in the Technical Memorandum. We are hopeful that construction of the first residential tower will commence in 2011.

Looking at the schedule

That revised schedule in the Technical Memorandum (see third page of this PDF, marked p. 6) does update the overall schedule announced in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

It essentially backs everything up a few years, but it's already out of date. For example, three of the first five towers are supposed to start in 2010, while the other two are supposed to start in 2011.

Also, two of those five buildings are on indefinite hold. There's no market as of now for Building 1, the office tower, which would be built only if an anchor tenant could be found.

Beyond that, the tower slated for Site 5--current home of P.C. Richard and Modell's would also be far in the future. Neither the state nor Forest City Ratner fully control the site, and the state has not yet pursued eminent domain for the site.

The project as a whole is supposed to be finished by 2019, even though penalties for delays on the third tower kick in only after a decade and penalties for the project as a whole kick in only after 25 years.

article

NoLandGrab: Hey, wasn't the Carlton Avenue bridge supposed to be replaced nine months ago? Will Forest City have to start paying fines in February? Yeah, right.

Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

October 16, 2010

Two By Tracy Colllins From The Atlantic Yards Footprint

Tracy Collins via Flickr

HOT BIRD's Last Stand

540 Vanderbilt Avenue
near Pacific Street
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

The iconic HOT BIRD sign's days are numbered. Workers were on the roof, beginning demolition. Word on the street is that it will take about a month before it's gone. The other buildings on this block (812 Pacific Street, 810 Pacific Street, 808 Pacific Street) will soon being coming down, too.

Watch a time-lapse video on Vimeo.


The Last Two on the block time-lapse

6th Avenue near Pacific Street
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

Demolition of 636 Pacific Street (aka The Atlantic Arts Building, aka former Goldstein residence) and 24-6th Avenue (aka The Spalding Building) on October 14, 2010 around 1pm. These are the last two buildings on the block of the Barclays Center Arena of Atlantic Yards. The arena would be bounded by Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Dean Street and 6th Avenue.

This view is looking south on 6th Avenue; Pacific Street is the near intersection, and Dean Street is the far intersection. Pacific Street used to continue right/west past 6th Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, but was "demapped" to make way for the arena. To the right (west) would be the rear end of the arena.

Watch this video on Vimeo. Video created by tracy collins.

Posted by steve at 8:05 AM

October 13, 2010

City Issues Demolition Permit For Last Building in Way of Arena

NetsDaily

New York City has issued a demolition permit for the last structure standing in the way of Barclays Center: Daniel Goldstein's condominium building. The demolition will take as long as five months to complete. The building at 636 Pacific Street is strategically situated, sitting roughly where arena center court will be, and was also a symbol of the critics' resistance. Goldstein, spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy, was the last holdout in the arena footprint until bought out for $3 million in April. Demolition of the only other building in the arena footprint is nearly complete.

link

Click here to see the demolition permit [PDF].

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

October 8, 2010

Atlantic Yards Construction 10-6

Raulistic via Flickr

Raul Rothblatt took some photos and shot some video Wednesday of construction-like goings-on around the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Raulism via YouTube, Atlantic Yards Construction 10-6-10

Raulism via YouTube, Working in Prospect Heights

NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner — destroying a neighborhood, destroying memories.

Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

October 7, 2010

Daily News reports construction jobs lag well behind estimates for 6 months ago; ESDC claims all jobs will come (AYR: not if project's 1/3 smaller)

Atlantic Yards Report

In an article today headlined Atlantic Yards not employing number of construction workers originally expected, the Daily News significantly advances the story by pointing out discrepancies between the current and predicted number of jobs.
...

Unexplained in the Daily News article is one significant reason: the construction schedule apparently assumes the near-simultaneous construction of three residential towers.
...

And here's the astonishing closer in today's article:

Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said the number of construction jobs will grow to 450 by late next spring.

However, by late spring 2010, one year before DePlasco's projections, there were supposed to be 742 jobs, and 1055 by the third quarter.

So it's way behind projections.

What'd we tell you?

The ESDC stands its ground regarding promised jobs, the Daily News reports:

The promise of 17,000 year-long construction jobs was a key selling point for the controversial arena and 16-tower project. Ratner and ESDC both insisted that goal can still be met.

"The number of job-years hasn't been altered; they will merely be created at a different pace in light of the changes in the construction schedule," said ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell.

Not necessarily. That's only if the project is built at the full 8 million square feet.

There are no requirements for Forest City Ratner to build a project of that size. It can build a project about one-third smaller without penalty.

article

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

Atlantic Yards not employing number of construction workers originally expected

NY Daily News
by Erin Durkin

"Expected?" Did you actually expect Ratner's promises to be legit?

The Atlantic Yards project is lagging on its promise to create much-needed construction jobs.

Only 100 people have been put to work at the Prospect Heights site so far, a Forest City Ratner executive conceded last week - compared to 1,476 predicted in state documents by late 2010.

"Right now, job numbers obviously are less than what they will be as construction gets full throttle at the arena," said Forest City Ratner Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin.
...

But even accounting for delays, the current number of jobs is much lower than expected. There were supposed to be 563 construction workers on site in the first quarter of 2010, 742 in the second, and 1,055 in the third.

James Caldwell, president of the nonprofit Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, said he's disappointed so few jobs have been created so far, though he still supports the project.

"I'm not satisfied because the community's not satisfied. They're coming in asking us for jobs daily," he said.

Careful, Mr. Caldwell, or Bruce might pull your funding.

Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said the number of construction jobs will grow to 450 by late next spring.

article

NoLandGrab: Here's something of DePlasco's that's growing already.

Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

October 5, 2010

Contractor for arena curtainwall sets up shop in Dean Street building across the street from the arena (and next to residences)

Atlantic Yards Report

As photographer Tracy Collins points out, ASI LIMITED, the "Building Enclosure Specialists," appears to be a contractor for the construction of the Barclays Center Arena curtainwall.

They have set up shop in a building on Dean Street east of Flatbush, right next to a well-restored 19th-century house (and a string of residences), and right across the street from the arena block.

link

NoLandGrab: Presumably so they can set off explosions to test the blast-resistance of that curtainwall?

Photo: Tracy Collins

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

September 29, 2010

Ratner says Barclays Arena will be ready for Nets' 2012-13 season

NorthJersey.com
by John Brennan

A live camera that focused on the Barclays Center site in Brooklyn during a Manhattan press conference Tuesday appeared to show a construction site that isn't much more than what arena developer Bruce Ratner said was a hole about 30 feet deep.

But Ratner insisted that a $900 million arena at the site will be ready in time for the Nets to move to Brooklyn from Newark for the start of the 2012-13 National Basketball Association season.

Ratner estimated an opening date of "July or August of 2012," but he was asked whether the Nets might play any games in Newark in 2012 if the arena isn't finished on time.

"The answer is that we are going to finish on time," the developer replied. "Nothing is ever 100 percent, but in the construction area, things go pretty smoothly. And we left ourselves some time between July and Nov. 1, so I don't think that's going to be an issue."

article

NoLandGrab: Since Bruce Ratner always tells the truth, that's good enough for us.

Related coverage...

NY1, Developers Unveil Plaza Design For New Barclays Center

Prospect Heights residents have had to get used to the construction zone, with sidewalks closed and traffic even more tied up than normal at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Developers say once the Barclays Center is complete in two years, there will be minimal traffic in the heavily congested area and also a spacious public plaza with views right into the Nets basketball arena.

NLG: "Minimal traffic?" Like we said, Bruce Ratner always tells the truth. Uh huh.

NY Post, New plans for Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project released

Greg Pasquarelli, a partner at ShoP Architects, which designed the plaza, told the Post he "wouldn’t be shocked" if the next big community fight regarding the Atlantic Yards project "is to save the Oculus" once people get to use it.

Sure, that's likely. We might even trademark "Develop Don't De-Oculus Brooklyn."

Ratner, who is partnering in the arena with new Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, said he believes the plaza "will quickly become one of Brooklyn’s great public spaces." He and his staff said they envision such uses as café seating, fashions shows, a farmers market similar to one in Grand Army Plaza, movie nights and — specifically — hipster-favorite the Brooklyn Flea.

But he may have been jumping the gun. Jonathan Butler, the flea market’s co-owner, said he "never met Bruce Ratner — nor has anyone from his team approached us about this idea."

"The central location is clearly attractive from a market organizer’s standpoint, but I suspect the traffic situation would pose some logistical challenges," said Butler, adding: "I could definitely use some advice on obtaining tax-free bond financing for our tents though."

Posted by eric at 8:40 AM

September 19, 2010

On signs for trucks, "Carlton Street" and "Pacific Avenue" now covered and corrected

Atlantic Yards Report

Do not let it be said that Forest City Ratner does not listen to criticism.

Remember how they were tweaked in June for putting up signs that welcomed truckers to "Carlton Street" and "Pacific Avenue"?

Well, that's been remedied. (I don't know how quickly it was done, but I took the photo when I was out earlier this month.)

link

Posted by steve at 9:25 AM

September 17, 2010

Storm knocks down construction fence on Dean Street, offers back view of 24 Sixth Avenue

Atlantic Yards Report

The storm yesterday also took down (at least temporarily) part of a construction fence on Dean Street between Flatbush Avenue and Sixth Avenue, allowing views of the two remaining buildings on the arena block.

At right is 636 Pacific Street.

(Photo and video by Raul Rothblatt.)

As shown in video below, the demolition of several buildings, notably the set-back 475 Dean Street, offers an unusual view of the light-colored back of 24 Sixth Avenue, the Spalding Building, known for its red-brick facade.

link

NoLandGrab: Any damage done by yesterday's storm pales beside the damage already wrought by Hurricane Bruce.

Posted by eric at 11:49 AM

September 9, 2010

6th Avenue sunset

Tracy Collins via Vimeo

6th Avenue sunset from tracy collins on Vimeo.

6th Avenue between Atlantic Avenue & Pacific Street
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

This time lapse was shot at sunset on August 30, 2010, facing south of 6th Avenue.

The two buildings on the right (l to r) are 24 6th Avenue (aka The Spalding Building) and 636 Pacific Street (aka The Atlantic Arts Building and the former home of Daniel Goldstein and family). They are the 2 last buildings standing in the footprint of the Barclays Center Arena of the 22-acre Atlantic Yards project of Forest City Ratner.

The Barclays Center Arena is being built to the west (right) of 6th Avenue. This stretch of 6th Avenue would be along the rear of the arena.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Tracy Collins: shrouded buildings in the sunset on Pacific Street

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

September 3, 2010

Barclays Center Construction Forces Pedestrians Onto The Street

NY1
by John Mancini

NY1 reports on the recent constriction of Flatbush Avenue.

Things are tight all over near the basketball arena going up in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn -- so tight that creating a safe path for pedestrians means putting them in an unlikely spot.

"The only way we could achieve that was to put the pedestrians in the roadway, which meant that we had to take a lane of traffic from Flatbush Avenue," says Forest City Ratner traffic consultant Sam Schwartz.

In the best of times, there is congestion between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street, where six lanes are now five. To keep traffic moving, three lanes flow toward Manhattan in the mornings and pedestrians walk on blacktop between barriers.
...

Ratner's goal is to get all lanes open as soon as possible, perhaps as a few months before the arena opens.

Bruised by the long fight, residents are skeptical.

"We've seen more closures of sidewalks, more closures of streets at this point in the project than we were told were going to happen," says Prospect Heights resident Peter Krashes.

article [with video]

Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

Prospect Heights 9/2/10

raulistic via flickr

Prospect Heights activist Raul Rothblatt had his trusty camera out yesterday, taking still photos and video of Bruce Ratner's neighborhood beautification efforts.

Here are some of the people around Ratner/Prokhorov's highly subsidized project in my neighborhood. The security service was following me from Atlantic Avenue to 6th Avenue.

link

raulism via YouTube, Atlantic Yards Construction 9-2-10 #1

raulism via YouTube, Atlantic Yards Construction 9-2-10 #2

Posted by eric at 12:01 PM

August 31, 2010

Yes, 752 Pacific is worth more to Forest City Ratner intact than demolished, at least for now

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember how I (quoting court papers) predicted that, despite Forest City Ratner's stated plan to immediately demolish all buildings in Phase 1 of the Atlantic Yards condemnation plan, the staunch six-story building on Pacific Street long owned by Henry Weinstein was likely to be used as construction offices?

As stated in the Empire State Development Corporation's Construction Update for the weeks beginning August 17 and August 23, and the latest Construction Update [PDF] issued yesterday:

The building at 752 Pacific Street will be used temporarily for construction shanties. During the next two week period, the former occupants’ trash will be removed from the building to prepare for construction teams.

link

Posted by eric at 12:50 PM

August 15, 2010

Freddy's Fall 8/13/10

Photo from a set by Raul Rothblatt, via Flickr

Additional coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report,The fall of Freddy's continues

On Friday, demolition workers continued to dismantle the building at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue that once housed Freddy's Bar & Backroom. Here's a slide show from Raul Rothblatt.

Below are cropped versions of two photos in the sequence. One floor from the main building was demolished, and the Backroom next door is history.

Posted by steve at 7:23 AM

August 14, 2010

Freddy's on Friday The 13th

Photo by Tracy Collins, via Flickr

Formerly Freddy's Bar & Backroom
485 Dean Street at 6th Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

Posted by steve at 2:15 PM

August 12, 2010

Demolition on the arena block: photos, video, and the CBA in action

Atlantic Yards Report

Prospect Heights resident Raul Rothblatt has posted both photos (set) and videos (below) of demolition at the Atlantic Yards arena site, as some rather sturdy and venerable buildings are being dismantled.

The coverage includes the building housing Freddy's Bar & Backroom (right) and the building housing the condo that was home to Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
...

And note the role played by A. Russo Wrecking, a firm owned by a white female resident of Nassau County that nevertheless fulfills the official aspirations of the Community Benefits Agreement, as I explained last week, but hardly represents the groups--however unrepresentative themselves--that signed the CBA.

The CBA, as I noted way back in October 2005, is supposed "to encourage systemic changes in the traditional ways of doing business on large urban development projects," but has also been supporting long-established firms, like Russo, founded in 1952, and whose officers serve as representatives of the New York City Demolition Contractors Association on the Board of Governors of the Building Trades Employers’ Association.

link

Related content...

raulism via YouTube, Prospect Heights Demolition 8-11 (483 Dean St.)

raulism via YouTube, Atlantic Yards Construction 8-10... reducing MTA capacity

Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

August 10, 2010

8/10: Demolition in Prospect Heights

raulistic via flickr

Bruce and the boys continue their "blight removal" project in Prospect Heights — including the erection of scaffolding against Daniel Goldstein's former building — as documented in this photo set courtesy of Raul Rothblatt.

Several lovely 19th and early 20th century building are being demolished to build a Russian-owned sports complex in Prospect Heights.

link

Posted by eric at 9:20 PM

August 1, 2010

What's missing in Phase 1? The Construction Coordination Center at Sixth Avenue

Atlantic Yards Report

On the northeast side of Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue, three of five houses once destined for eminent domain and demolition still stand, a testament to changed arena block plans.

In the original Atlantic Yards plan, Forest City Ratner sought a 100-foot plot of land just east of Sixth Avenue, as I wrote in August 2006, for staging and temporary parking, before serving as the site for the last building constructed.

But a changed arena design, and an abandonment of any plan to build four surrounding towers in four years, means that the need for surface parking and staging is less.

Moreover, FCR and the Empire State Development Corporation avoid potential eminent domain cases against homeowners, and the developer gets to save cash flow by having condemnation for the project proceed in stages.

link

Posted by steve at 8:52 AM

July 29, 2010

Atlantic Yards Construction to Make Downtown Brooklyn Less Dangerous?

The L Magazine
by Benjamin Sutton

Not sure how to feel about this one: city-financed and -facilitated Brooklyn gentrification real estate megadevelopment Atlantic Yards is moving along full steam with construction of the Barclay's Arena, which will require the closure of one lane on Flatbush Avenue between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue for two years beginning August 1st. The Brooklyn Paper is quick to point out what a terrible inconvenience this will be for drivers, reducing the number of lanes from six to five—to ease the blow, buses are being rerouted and traffic officers will be on call at all hours; but for cyclists and pedestrians this is unexpectedly great news.

Almost anything to slow the highway-speed traffic in that area where so many walk and ride on their way between north and south Brooklyn is worth it, except, for instance, the destruction of an entire neighborhood. But, since we apparently have no choice but to let Bruce Ratner make billions, a little incidental and much-needed traffic control will be a tolerable side effect.

link

NoLandGrab: We're all for traffic calming, but there's little about this street reconfiguration that will be beneficial to pedestrians or cyclists. Peds have been reduced to squeezing onto a sliver of sidewalk along the arena site, and Flatbush will likely be nearly impassable to those brave enough to tackle it on two wheels. Traffic will surely be moving more slowly, however — if at all.

Posted by eric at 10:10 AM

Atlantic Yards construction 7-28-10

Raulism via YouTube

More video from Raul Rothblatt, with Daniel Goldstein's former home at left in the long shot.

link

Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

July 24, 2010

The Spalding Building is prepared for its fate, as demolition work continues

Atlantic Yards Report

From Raul Rothblatt, aka Raulism on YouTube: Below is a walk along Pacific Street from Carlton to Sixth Avenues in Brooklyn, viewing both construction for Atlantic Yards and demolition of existing properties.

At the end, he gets to the renovated Spalding Building at the corner of Pacific Street and Sixth Avenue, sheathed in scaffolding, pictured at right and part of a set taken yesterday regarding Atlantic Yards work.

NoLandGrab: The conversion of a long-unused factory building into beautiful living units gives lie to claims that city and state subsidies were needed to jump start development and remove blight in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Posted by steve at 7:15 AM

July 20, 2010

Dean St Demolition 7-19-10

Raulism via YouTube

link

Posted by eric at 10:23 AM

July 14, 2010

ay dean st demo july 14

Raulism via YouTube

Bruce Ratner and his henchmen continue to lay waste to a once-up-and-coming neighborhood. But hey, at least you'll get to see LeBron James Dwyane Wade Chris Bosh Carlos Boozer Rudy Gay John Wall Johan Petro wearing the home jersey.

link

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Demolition proceeds on Dean Street

Prospect Heights resident Raul Rothblatt (aka Raulism) offers a video of this morning's demolition work at 473 Dean Street (past photos by Tracy Collins).

According to the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Update, this is one of several buildings on the arena block for which demolition is in process or anticipated.

For those curious, Breeze Demolition of Red Hook is not part of the state's database of Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses.

Posted by eric at 5:15 PM

July 13, 2010

Want to reach FCR's Community Liaison Office? It's moving to Dean near Carlton, so send an email for now

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Empire State Development Corporation's (via Forest City Ratner) ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE, Weeks of July 5, 2010 through July 18, 2010 [PDF]:

Community Liaison Office
The CLO is in the process of being relocated from 24 6th Avenue to a trailer on Dean Street near the intersection of Carlton Avenue & Dean Street. Persons seeking access should do so from Dean Street While the technological infrastructure is being set up and reestablished, the CLO phone line (866-923-5315) will be unavailable. However, community residents are encouraged to use the CLO email – communityliaison@atlanticyards.com - which remains operational. To aid the community, signage detailing the new location for the office will be posted at 24 6th Avenue as well as at the new location.

As promised, Forest City Ratner is planning to demolish 24 Sixth Avenue, the former Spalding factory that was renovated into some handsome condos.

It still looks like the developer will use 752 Pacific Street on that southeastern block (Pacific near Carlton) as construction headquarters, rather than demolish it as once promised.

link

NoLandGrab: We believe that in both instances, Atlantic Yards Report meant "threatened" rather than "promised."

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

July 9, 2010

Ratner Hands Out AC Units to Residents Near Atlantic Yards

NY Observer
by William Alden

Since this story is such old news, we can only guess that someone at Forest City — maybe the unnamed "assistant vice president" (assistant to the vice president?) — figured he'd take advantage of the heat wave to make Bruce Ratner appear somehow benevolent.

Some residents near the Atlantic Yards construction site in Brooklyn can expect a free air-conditioning unit from their friendly neighborhood developer, Forest City Ratner.

According both to an assistant vice president at Ratner and to Joe DePlasco, the publicist who represents the developer, Ratner has been handing out AC vouchers to people who live near the construction. The effort is part of Ratner's mitigation plan; in the past such efforts have included closing roads to ease traffic related to the construction. But it remains unclear just how an air conditioner would mitigate construction woes.

article

NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure that Dean Street residents will attest that closing roads has not eased traffic. And it's a fair bet that construction will outlast Ratner's cut-rate AC units.

Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

June 30, 2010

Work begins on concrete foundation for Nets new Brooklyn home

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The New Jersey Nets celebrated an important milestone in the construction of the Barclays Center basketball arena near downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday, as concrete began pouring for the foundation of the 18,000-seat facility.

Nearly 700 cubic yards of concrete from two plants was delivered to the site in 80 concrete-mixing trucks, according to Bob Sanna. He is a vice president with Forest City Ratner, which is developing the Atlantic Yards project at the site that ultimately also is scheduled to include thousands of condominiums.

“Over the next few months, we will continue with the mass excavation, underground plumbing and electrical work, along with ongoing foundation work,” Sanna said.

Arenas of this size typically take about 24 months to build, and the Nets hope to have the building ready to open by mid-2012. If that happens — and the weather temperatures would have to cooperate this winter so concrete can still be poured — then the team could meet its goal of moving into the Barclays Center in time for the start of the 2012-13 season.

article

Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Nets building a foundation -- on Brooklyn arena

The Nets might be a dark horse in the LeBron James sweepstakes as they try re-building their fragile foundation, but at least the foundation of their long-delayed Brooklyn arena project appears in better shape.

Forest City Ratner Co., developer of the Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, announced today that The Laquila Group, a Brooklyn-based excavation and foundation contractor, along with WNW Concrete Contracting, a local minority owned business, has begun pouring concrete for the foundation of the 18,000-seat Barclays Center.

NetsDaily, Speaking of Building Foundations...

Barclays Center Press Release, CONCRETE POURED AT ATLANTIC YARDS [PDF]

Posted by eric at 9:26 AM

June 1, 2010

A bad day on Pacific Street: trucks in a jam, major delays, unprepared contractors; will it happen again?

Atlantic Yards Report

Welcome to Ratnerville, have a nice day!

A two-hour delay on Pacific Street. Vehicles driving on the sidewalk. 45 minutes of truck repairs. A school bus that had to back up more than a block along Pacific to Vanderbilt Avenue. Unprepared contractors.

So it was on April 27, as shown in a video shot by a Prospect Heights resident. The focus is on Pacific between Carlton and Sixth avenues, a block that contains the Newswalk condo building and--unlike the blocks of Pacific Street to the east and west--remains a public street.

Norman Oder queried the Empire State Development Corporation, who had to check with the developer to get their story straight. In brief, mistakes were made...

Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

NEW — DO NOT ENTER

Photo, by Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

Pacific Street at Vanderbilt Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

This block of Pacific Street has been closed and eventually would be demapped for Atlantic Yards.

See a close-up of the sign here.

All buildings in the background would be demolished for a temporary surface parking lot for over 1000 cars, and would eventually be the site for several residential towers. This photo has notes. Move your mouse over the photo to see them.

Atlantic Yards Report, Welcome, trucks, to "Carlton Street" and "Pacific Avenue"

Just because developer Bruce Ratner is going to demap sections of Carlton and Pacific, doesn't mean he gets to rename them too:

... whoever prepared the "arena trucking rules"--rules that, by the way, have not always been followed--seems to think there are blocks called "Carlton Street" and "Pacific Avenue."

The sign is placed at the corner of Pacific Street and Vanderbilt Avenue and is aimed at drivers turning west on Pacific, whereupon they are supposed to queue up to Carlton (where there's a light), then go one long block (past the residential Newswalk building) to Sixth Avenue (where there's a light), and then to the arena site.

Posted by lumi at 5:46 AM

May 28, 2010

Tracy Collins offers time-lapse photos from outside arena site, near FCR's malls, despite official discouragement

Atlantic Yards Report

Photographer Tracy Collins did some filming yesterday, and workers at Forest City Ratner's arena site as well at the developer's mall complex didn't want him getting too close.

The documentation doesn't bring up anything unusual, but there's a value to consistent documentation. Surely Forest City Ratner is trying to control the visuals, such as with these shots of new Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Arena construction

Flatbush Avenue at Pacific Street
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York
May 27, 2010
2:30pm

Collins writes:

Site of the Barclays Center Arena of the Atlantic Yards development by Forest City Ratner. Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center Mall is in the background.

I was told by the construction workers (who eventually covered the gap in the fence thru which I was shooting) that I should "move along" and that "I couldn't photograph here." I told them that I could and I would as I was on a public sidewalk.

Barclays Center Arena construction, Flatbush at Pacific from tracy collins on Vimeo.

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NoLandGrab: Classic! Watch the short video for Forest City Ratner's censoring of its proprietary dirt-moving technology — this from the company that swears that "when it comes to sharing information with the public and governmental bodies, there’s no such thing as too much."

And for good measure, they kicked Tracy Collins off the "private" street between Bruce Ratner's malls, too.

Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

May 26, 2010

Near the AY footprint, in the later part of the morning rush hour, traffic stacks up on Dean and Bergen streets (video)

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, at about 9:15 am and thus in the later part of rush hour, I took a walk to the blocks just below the Atlantic Yards footprint.

At the corner of Carlton Avenue and Dean Street, there was a lot of traffic stacked up, mainly on Dean going east.

The cause? I'd blame the closure of the Carlton Avenue Bridge (for another two years or so) and the permanent closure of two blocks of Pacific Street have channeled traffic to adjacent streets.

In the first video, there was even some gridlock at Carlton and Dean.

I walked east on Dean to Sixth Avenue along the sidewalk--which narrows noticeably as it approaches the arena block--wondering about the impact of a couple of thousand people walking along that same route to and from the interim surface parking in the block bounded by Carlton Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue, Dean Street, and Pacific Street.

Answer: it'll be very crowded. People will be walking in the street.

...

I then walked down Sixth Avenue to Bergen Street and filmed for a while at the corner of Bergen and Sixth, where the traffic had stacked up going west on Bergen.

There was a guy counting traffic at Bergen and Sixth who told me he was working "for the city." There's definitely some data to gather.

I continued walking along Bergen east to Carlton. The traffic diminished somewhat, but there were still delays.

And it wasn't even the heart of rush hour.

It's going to be an interesting ride.

Click on the link to see the videos that provide the raw material for this blog post.

link

Posted by steve at 10:40 AM

May 24, 2010

The Dean Green Monster

Photo, by Tracy Collins, via flickr Atlantic Yards Photo Pool.

Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

Newly installed fake greenery on the fence that surrounds the former site of the Ward Bread Bakery.

This lot is currently being used to support construction of the Barclays Center Arena of Atlantic Yards. It will eventually become a "temporary" surface parking lot with a 1000+ car capacity. Someday it may be the site of several residential towers.

Related coverage...

Curbed, Atlantic Yards Construction Chronicles

To those who consider Atlantic Yards a soul-crushing, neighborhood-destroying miscarriage of justice, we say this: At least the project is going green! With a, um, really long fence covered in "newly installed fake greenery." Well, that's one way to dress up a future parking lot! Let's call it Lebron's* Lawn.

(*Lebron results not guaranteed.)

Posted by lumi at 5:58 AM

May 21, 2010

Photos by Tracy Collins: Dean Street begins to be shrouded by a blue construction fence; the staging area gets a green fence

Atlantic Yards Report

Tracy Collins took several photos in recent days of Forest City Ratner's efforts to wall off the Atlantic Yards site, mainly for demolition on the arena block but also to deter prying eyes on the block being used for staging and surface parking.

And he created a video.

Atlantic Yards Walls from tracy collins on Vimeo.

link

Related coverage...

Brownstoner, The Walling Off Begins

Tracy Collins, who's been documenting the Atlantic Yards saga religiously for the last several years, put together this video (which also appeared on Atlantic Yards Report) of Ratner beginning to wall off the Atlantic Yards site from prying eyes.

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM

May 14, 2010

To allow demolition on arena block, sidewalk on north side of Dean between Flatbush and Sixth will close for 3 months; will it be Saturday or Monday?

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) issued a Supplemental Report [PDF] (embedded below) to the Atlantic Yards Construction Update, indicating that the the northern sidewalk of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues will be closed for three months to facilitate mechanical demolition on the arena block.

It's unclear whether the closing will begin Saturday or Monday, though I'd bet on the latter.

This may be the first announced mechanical demolition process; I couldn't get clarification late yesterday from the ESDC. The ESDC's Construction Updates only go back to 2009; a search on NoLandGrab's construction page doesn't list previous announcements of mechanical demolition.

Mechanical demolition

Mechanical demolition, which was untenable when there were residents and businesses on the arena block, means more equipment, noise, and dust--surely a burden for those living across the street. (What equipment exactly? My query is pending.)

It's faster for the developer, though, and, for those not spending too much time at home, it'll be over sooner. For those who were living next door to unplanned mechanical demolition, it was most unpleasant.

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Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

What's happening on Block 1129? Construction Update shows layout for construction support, hints that 752 Pacific will remain

Atlantic Yards Report

According to the Atlantic Yards Construction Update [PDF] (embedded below) issued Monday, May 10, Block 1129, which once housed the Ward Bakery, a homeless shelter, and several businesses and homes, is poised to become Forest City Ratner's headquarters for arena construction, the Community Liaison Office, the community labor exchange, and much more.

Block 1129 is the southeast block of the project footprint, bounded by Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Pacific and Dean streets. Pacific Street has been closed and will be demapped.

The arena site, however, is one long block away to the west, with a thriving residential block between them that will see a ton of traffic. It's an unusual situation and, as they say in the world of environmental impact statements, a significant impact. (Site maps and images here.)

Hints that 752 Pacific will remain

Also, the update suggests that Forest City Ratner will use, rather than demolish some buildings. If so, that confirms claims in a court document filed by a lawyer for longtime property owner Henry Weinstein that the developer wants to use the renovated six-story building at 752 Pacific Street as office space.

Remember, FCR executive Maryanne Gilmartin claimed in an affidavit that "[t]he prompt demolition of the buildings that remain on Block 1129 also is critical to construction of the arena."

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Posted by eric at 12:09 PM

April 27, 2010

Idling dump trucks block Pacific Street, pinning drivers in: photos

Atlantic Yards Report

A photographer reports from Pacific Street: some 12-15 dump trucks being used for Atlantic Yards were parked idling and lined up throughout the block of Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues.

This blocked some drivers for up to an hour. Had the fire department needed to use Pacific Street or had mistakenly turned down Pacific, it would have been a dangerous mess, he says.

link

NoLandGrab: Who wants to bet this type of thing was never mentioned in the "Construction Impacts" section of the Environmental Impact Statement?

Posted by eric at 10:27 PM

April 14, 2010

Construction Period Signage: "in the spirit of promoting community interaction and the creation of an attractive streetscape"

Atlantic Yards Report

From the Master Closing documents released by the Empire State Development Corporation:

signage.gif

link

Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

March 11, 2010

BACK IN THE U-S-S-YARDS: Liveblogging the Barclays Center Groundbreaking

Curbed.com's Lockhart Steele covers the heckles and jeckles behind the front lines at Bruce Ratner's groundtaking fest, replete with self-deprecating gubernatorial humor, lobster rolls and potato knishes and this shout out to architectural firms Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects from the land-grabbing developer himself, "They designed a new Barclays Center that is cool and gorgeous and awesome." [Like totally, fer sure!]

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CURBEDWIRE: Jay-Z's Hardhat Style Breaking.jpg

The city has distributed this up-close photo of Bruce, Mike, Dave, Marty, Jigga and the gang putting shovel to dirt.

Posted by lumi at 6:20 PM

Big court win yesterday — groundbreaking today

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

Hours before Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for Bruce Ratner’s Barclays Center arena, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled in the developer’s favor on what is the last of the major lawsuits against the mega-project.

Justice Marcy Friedman found that the Empire State Development Corporation acted within the law when it overhauled its Atlantic Yards construction plans last year — a revision that sweetened the deal for Ratner and allowed him to put down just $20 million for the Vanderbilt rail yards and pay the rest in installments through 2030.

But Friedman acknowledged that project opponents were justified in their criticism of the way ESDC handled Atlantic Yards.

“ESDC … lacked the candor that the public was entitled to expect, particularly in light of the scale of the project and its impact on the community,” Friedman wrote.

Candace Carponter, the legal director for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the opposition groups on the case, said that the ruling only reinforced their stance that Ratner and his state partners were allowed to undertake the major project without a public process.

“That is the legacy and hallmark of Atlantic Yards,” said Carponter. “A total failure of democracy.”

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Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

Groundbreakingtaking: Today's the day

NBC New York, After Years of Delays, Groundbreaking Today at Atlantic Yards

Protesters are expected to turn out in downtown Brooklyn today as construction on the controversial Atlantic Yards project is set to officially begin after years of delays and court challenges.

Gov. David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and rapper Jay-Z will join developer Bruce Ratner at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Earlier this week, streets in the already-clogged area between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues began closing to clear the way for construction on the $4.9 million project which has been stalled by court challenges, the recession and numerous changes to the original plan -- including the loss of star architect Frank Gehry.

NY1 News, Groundbreaking Ceremony Scheduled For New Nets Arena

According to the New York Daily News, 22 residents and businesses near the site have been sent letters from the state telling them they will be evicted if they do not leave voluntarily by April 3rd.

"Officials should not be celebrating today, they should be investigating today," said a resident who is being asked to vacate his home.

AP via NJ.com, Groundbreaking is set for Brooklyn home for NJ Nets

A groundbreaking ceremony is set for the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn that includes an arena for the New Jersey Nets.
...

Opponents plan to stage a protest near the site before the ceremony.

7online.com, Groundbreaking day for Atlantic Yards arena

It's been a bitter turf war pitting residents and businesses against the Atlantic Yards developer, but Brooklyn's new arena finally breaks ground.
...

The full project, all 16 apartment and office towers could take the next quarter-century to complete. But families and businesses in the area could get kicked out of the area now.

Park Slope Neighbors via Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn, March 11th: Protest the Atantic Yards Ceremonial Groundbreaking

Eric McClure, who runs Park Slope Neighbors, is urging all of his friends and neighbors to heed Develop Don’t Destroy’s call to protest the groundbreaking on March 11th at the Atlantic Yards.

The Brooklyn Ink, MORNING ROUNDUP—3/11/10

The big news of the day: the massive, and massively controversial, Atlantic Yards project is set to officially begin today, changing the fabric of the borough forever.

Bay Ridge Journal, Atlantic Yards Protest Tomorrow Today

An e-mail blast from Rev. Billy today announced that there will be a mock Atlantic Yards groundbreaking and funeral for the soul of Brooklyn at 12:30 PM tomorrow today, followed by an "anti-celebration" counterpointing Developer Bruce Ratner's celebration, beginning at 1PM.

The meet-up point will be outside of Freddy's Bar at 485 Dean Street.

Brooklyn Born, Protest Atlantic Yards Ground Breaking 12:30pm today!

Posted by eric at 9:35 AM

March 9, 2010

Brooklyn Streets Close For Atlantic Yards Construction

NY1 News
by Jeanine Ramirez

After years of controversy and delay, some major streets in Brooklyn closed Monday, ahead of the much-anticipated groundbreaking this week for the Atlantic Yards Project.

Fencing went up to block off Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carleton, and Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Traffic officers did their best to help drivers get around.

"You see the traffic on Atlantic Avenue now, it's wild; it's crazy," said driver Austin James, a Fort Greene resident. "I don't know what the solution is. It's going to be a nightmare."

link

Related coverage...

NBC New York, Streets Close as Atlantic Yards Construction Moves Ahead

Traffic is getting snarled around the site of the planned Atlantic Yards complex in downtown Brooklyn, as streets in the area reportedly begin to close to clear way for construction on the controversial $4.9 million project.

Street closings include Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carleton, and Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York 1 reports. The area is already backlogged with traffic and many drivers are expecting a traffic "nightmare."

Apparently, that traffic nightmare has already begun.

Atlantic Yards Report, "Turbulence and confusion" as drivers go wrong way on Pacific Street

"I do not expect perpetual gridlock, and my name is 'Gridlock Sam,'" observed Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz at a meeting on street closings February 24. "I absolutely believe there will be turbulence and confusion the first few days this goes in."

Indeed, even though the street closings plan maintains Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues as one-way westbound, that message, on the second day of changes, has not gotten through, according to the photos forwarded to me of traffic going east. (Click on graphics to enlarge)

[Warning: Take Dramamine before viewing video.]

NoLandGrab: Is there at least a little irony in the fact that it's a New York City garbage truck going the wrong way on Pacific Street? Forest City Ratner-funded Traffic Control Agents helping drivers navigate the new street configuration don't seem to be having much of an affect.

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Paterson, Bloomberg, Markowitz, Ratner, Jay-Z (but no Prokhorov) scheduled for arena groundbreaking Thursday; will they let me in?

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner yesterday sent out a press release regarding the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, to be held at 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Fifth and Atlantic avenues.

Leaders of the state (Gov. David Paterson), city (Mayor Mike Bloomberg), and borough (Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz) are expected; it will be interesting to see how many local elected officials and community board officials choose to attend.

Also present will be developer Bruce Ratner, naming rights purchaser Bob Diamond of Barclays Capital, and entertain Jay-Z, who owns a tiny slice of the team. Unmentioned in the press release is prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, scheduled to buy 80% of the team and 45% of the arena.

Is it that Prokhorov hasn't been officially approved as owner? Or is it that significant subsidies, tax breaks, and the use of eminent domain looks a little different when the beneficiary is Russia's richest man?

Norman Oder wonders if he'll be allowed beyond the velvet rope.

Note that only "officially credentialed press" will be allowed in, which can be used to keep out both self-appointed temporary journalists as well as yours truly.

I asked FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco and he said he'd check.

I'm not holding my breath. I wasn't allowed into the notorious Frank Gehry press conference in May 2006 but I was allowed into the January 2007 naming rights event, largely because I was covering it for the weekly Brooklyn Downtown Star.

But if it's a ban, it's a ridiculous one. They read my work. They know I know more about this project than the "officially credentialed journalists." They know that I'll likely cover the event in greater detail than afforded in print on on TV.

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Additional coverage...

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Atlantic Yards Groundbreaking Set for Thursday

The first phase of Atlantic Yards will also include three residential buildings, with construction of the first starting later this year, according to the company. Several local streets were recently closed as part of the overall Atlantic Yards plan.

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards, led by the organization Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, are planning a demonstration at a site yet to be announced in the project’s “footprint.”

Not Another F*cking Blog, Atlantic Yards Groundbreaking Ceremonies – March 11th

(Un)fortunately, I won’t be there to witness the lies first hand, but all the Atlantic Yards perpetrators will be wielding their golden shovels this coming Thursday, March 11th, at 1:30pm for the ceremonial Barclays Center & Atlantic Yards groundbreaking. I expect Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Groundbreaking Ceremony (to bury the soul of Brooklyn) to be a much more interesting event, and I am sorry that I’ll miss that.

CoStar Group, In The Pipeline: CoStar Development and Construction News for March 7-13

WCBS Newsradio 880, Downtown Brooklyn Prepares for Atlantic Yards Groundbreaking

Here on Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, huge neon signs read CLOSED.

It's to make way for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project.

link / audio

Atlantic Yards Report, "Let the evictions begin," says WCBS radio in its report on the "Downtown Brooklyn" project

It's just a 42-second radio report according to the audio but it's rather broad-brush.

"Let the evictions begin, as stretches of key avenues here in Downtown Brooklyn are now closed to make way for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project," declares Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. "Somewhat surprisingly, many residents and business owners I'm talking to say, bring it on."

(There are no evictions yet, or court orders, despite reports of letters sent by the Empire State Development Corporation.)

The only person quoted is a guy who runs a bagel shop on Fifth Avenue and, while the store isn't specified, it might be A.R.E.A. Bagels & Bialys, which was originally--before protests--named for the arena.

"So you see it as a good business move, it's going to help you?" the reporter asks, in a helpful leading question.

Yes, replies the bagel guy.

NoLandGrab: We fully expect A.R.E.A. Bagels to revert to ARENA Bagels once construction begins in earnest.

Posted by eric at 1:07 PM

FOREST CITY RATNER PRESS RELEASE: BARCLAYS CENTER AND ATLANTIC YARDS GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010

Ceremonial Groundbreaking to Celebrate the Next Phase of Construction On Atlantic Yards and Sports and Entertainment Arena in Brooklyn

Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others, will be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 5th and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn (12:30 PM press set up, 1:30 PM ceremony).

While work has been ongoing at the site since last fall, and with the temporary rail yard completed last December, the March 11 groundbreaking ceremony will mark the next phase of construction on the 18,000-seat world-class sports and entertainment arena. The Barclays Center will host more than 200 events annually, including professional and collegiate sports, concerts, family shows, NETS Basketball, and much more. The first phase of Atlantic Yards will also include three residential buildings, with the first starting later this year.

WHAT: Ceremonial groundbreaking for Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.

WHO: Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others.

WHEN: Thursday, March 11, 2010. Ceremony to start at 1:30 PM.

Press setup at 12:30 PM. ONLY OFFICIAL CREDENTIALED PRESS WILL BE PROVIDED ACCESS.

WHERE: Intersection of 5th and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn

Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

March 8, 2010

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Calls For Ratner Arena Groundbreaking Festivities To Be Open To All Brooklynites

BROOKLYN — In anticipation of Forest City Ratner's, Mayor Bloomberg's and the Empire State Development Corporation's ceremonial groundbreaking for the Barclays Center Arena on Thursday, March 11 Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) encourages Forest City Ratner to open the festivities to all Brooklynites.

Forest City Ratner has always claimed that the arena project is for the whole Brooklyn community and that the community has always been included throughout the process. On this big day for Ratner, DDDB calls on the developer, the City and State, to prove that the project is indeed for all Brooklynites.

"We call on Bruce Ratner, New York City and State to open the Barclays Arena ceremonial groundbreaking festivities to all Brooklynites. We take Mr. Ratner at his word when he says his arena is for all of Brooklyn and that the community is very important to his company,” said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “We expect Brooklynites to be able to freely share in the day's festivities, and we sure hope that it is not just an exclusive, cordoned off event for the wealthy, powerful, connected and bought off."

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

Two weeks ago, FCR said first residential building would begin this year; now they're talking summer 2011

Atlantic Yards Report

At a public meeting on February 24, Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall said, "As we've stated publicly, we intend to begin design of the first residential building in such a way that it can break ground in the fourth quarter of this year."

An article in the past week's Courier-Life chain quotes FCR spokesperson Joe DePlasco:

Phase one of the construction is the arena block including three residential buildings.

The first of these buildings is scheduled to start in the summer 2011, with the second building six to nine months after that, and the third six to nine months after that, said DePlasco.

In other words, the schedule has already changed.

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NoLandGrab: Anyone who's even remotely familiar with Forest City Ratner knows that the company and its spokespeople are incapable of telling the truth when it comes to Atlantic Yards. If DePlasco says "summer 2011," you know it's not starting in sumer 2011.

Posted by eric at 10:43 AM

March 3, 2010

Groundbreaking ceremony for arena (now with rooftop advertising!) set for March 11; DDDB announces effort to "protest and disrupt" event

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner has announced a groundbreaking for the Barclays Center arena at 1:30 pm on Thursday, March 11, even setting up a countdown clock.

(Apparently, Stephen Witt's "conceptual scoop" about the beginning of arena construction was insufficient.)

From "green roof" to billboard

Note that the design of the arena, above left, has evolved somewhat, with the roof--initially announced as a "green roof"--now appearing to serve as a giant billboard.
...

Meanwhile, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn is calling for arena opponents to "protest and drown out" the event....

link

NoLandGrab: In one of Forest City Ratner's more outlandish examples of total bull-, er, overpromising, they at one time claimed that the roof of the arena would serve as a meadow-like sanctuary for migratory birds. Not sure if the dodo was one of the species they were expecting.

Posted by eric at 9:38 PM

March 1, 2010

ATLANTIC YARDS RATNERVILLE CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

ATLANTIC YARDS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Weeks of March 1, 2010 through March 8, 2010 [PDF]

In an effort to keep the Atlantic Yards Community aware of upcoming construction activities, ESD and Forest City Ratner provide the following outline of anticipated upcoming construction activities.

Please note: the scope and nature of activities are subject to change based upon field conditions. In addition, during the utility work water shut offs may be required; these shuts downs are done under the oversight of DEP and property owners will be given advance notice. All work has been approved by appropriate City and State agencies where required. In addition to the activities described below noise attenuation and vibration monitoring measures are underway in connection with the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments dated as of 12/21/09.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our project Ombudsperson at: 212-803-3233 or AtlanticYards@empire.state.ny.us

Long Island Rail Road/Vanderbilt Yard Work

  • Some final wiring will be done on the lighting system. Upon completion of this, the LIRR will conduct testing of the lighting as previously reported. This testing – which entails adjustments to placement and illumination -- will be conducted at night and will take place over 2-3 nights.

  • Temp Yard Punch list – minor items remain to be completed.

  • Work continues on the relocation of the MG Set from BL1119 to BL 1120. Work entails mechanical and electrical work inside the building.

  • Installation of protection of LIRR substation A0-1 via erection of a sidewalk bridge over this equipment in BL1119 will begin.

Environmental Remediation

  • The environmental consultant has completed most of the shallow excavation and drilling to test and classify soils in blocks 1127 and 1119. Work will continue on parcels that were previously blocked with utility construction vehicles. This is prep work required in advance of any actual removal of soil from the site.

  • Continuation of water quality monitoring around the site per NYS Department of Environmental Conservation requirements.

  • In accordance with the request of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, additional monitoring wells are being installed on block 1118 lots 1 and , block 1119 lots 1 & 64 and Block 1127, lots 11, 12, and 13.

Infrastructure

  • The contractor completed pile drilling in all areas except 5th Avenue/Flatbush intersection. Drilling will resume once the intersection is closed to traffic. Sewer pipe installation will also resume along Flatbush at that time.

  • The contractor will continue to perform ancillary work at the recently installed sewer pipe between Flatbush and Atlantic including underpinning a section of the subway vent structure and demolition of a TA manhole. The work will be completed and connected to a sewer in Atlantic Avenue once 5th Avenue is closed to traffic.

  • The contractor plans to excavate Atlantic Avenue at two locations to cut and cap an abandoned water main. The work at the location west of Flatbush will be performed at night and will be plated over every morning before rush hour traffic begins, per DOT stipulations. The location at the east will be performed during regular work hours behind barricades that will remain in place until work is completed. This work is expected to begin the week of March 1, 2010.

  • Immediately following the water main cut and cap, the contractor will dig test pits on Atlantic Avenue between Flatbush and 6th Avenue to locate the exact profile of the LIRR tunnel and existing sewer pipes. The work will be performed with the approval of the LIRR. The work is expected to begin within the next two weeks.

  • The contractor will install traffic and pedestrian safety barriers (MPT) on Atlantic Avenue between Flatbush and east of 5th Avenue to accommodate the cut and cap and test pit work described above. The barriers will remain in place after the work is complete and will be incorporated into the more extensive system of traffic and pedestrian barriers that will be installed for the arena construction. This work has been approved by the DOT and the contractor has all requisite approvals/permits.

  • The contractor will install a water main crossing BL 1118. The work will require a connection to an existing water main on the west side of Flatbush between 5th Avenue and Dean Street. All excavation in the bed of Flatbush Avenue will be performed at night and will be plated over at the end of the shift so that traffic can be restored every morning.

  • During the course of this work, the contractor may encounter unforeseen contaminants, underground storage tanks or other structures. In the event that this happens and where appropriate, notification will be given to the DEC and remediation steps were implemented.

Demolition

  • The abatement is complete at 624 and 648 Pacific Street and 473 and 475 Dean Street. Filings for demolition permits are in progress.

  • Sidewalk sheds and scaffolding will be installed at 624 and 648 Pacific Street and 467 Dean Streets as required by the Department of buildings.

  • Abatement filings will be submitted on additional buildings in the arena footprint.

  • Demolition of 467 Dean Street is expected to begin within the two week period.

Full Street Closures

  • Traffic rerouting and street closures outlined in the January 11, 2010 Community Notice (see attached) have been delayed until further notice.

The ESDC has finally gotten caught up posting past Construction Updates after revamping its web site. Click the links below for PDF versions of past updates.

Week of February 15, 2010 through February 22, 2010 [PDF]

Week of February 1, 2010 through February 8, 2010 [PDF]

Week of January 18, 2010 through January 25, 2010 [PDF]

Week of January 4, 2010 through January 11, 2010 [PDF]

Week of December 21, 2009 through December 28, 2009 [PDF]

Posted by eric at 7:10 PM

February 27, 2010

Forest City Ratner: Carlton Ave Bridge Closure “a Bit of a Conundrum”

StreetsBlog
by Ben Fried

This account of last Wednesday's meeting on street closings for the proposed Atlantic Yards project focuses on Forest City Ratner's pushing the schedule to rebuild the Carlton Avenue Bridge much further into the future than promised. Attention is paid to the more than 1,000 "interim" parking spaces on the project footprint. With a 25-year buildout allowed, these spaces could remain a blight on the area for decades.

Forest City Ratner did discuss its