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Showing posts from 2017

If Parm's coming to Barclays, that suggests the 40/40 Club isn't doing so well

From Eater yesterday, Massive Parm Will Land in Barclays Center This Fall
Perhaps there’s a reason why the Williamsburg Parm hadn’t reopened after all. On the heels of the official closing, Major Food Group has big Brooklyn news: The restaurant group has joined forces with Barclays Center to open a 200-plus-seat Parm in some of the space that had been The 40/40 Club co-owned by Jay-Z.
The new Parm — located on Suite Level A, up one level from the main entrance — will debut in October in time for the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders season. It’s the only full-service, sit-down spot inside the arena and is open to all ticket holders. While The 40/40 Club as Barclays regulars may know will be different in that it’s a smaller bar adjacent to Parm that will keep the name. While this may well be a coup for Parm, it also suggests that the 40/40 Club--now called
THE 40/40 CLUB & RESTAURANT BY TANDUAY RUM--may not be doing as well as hoped.
The current description: Visit the 40/40 CLUB …

"The voodoo of the Barclays Center": transformation on Atlantic and Nostrand avenues (plus other factors)

In the recent edition of the promotional supplement Brooklyn Tomorrow, Community News Group offered "Atlantic overtures," subtitled, "Buildings from Bklyn Heights to Bed-Stuy are changing the face of the avenue."

From the article:
Two residential buildings at 927 and 1007 Atlantic Ave. in Clinton Hill, where auto repair shops still line the thoroughfare, are under construction and will add another 63 rentals to the neighborhood when finished — a sign of transformations to come, according to locals.
“You’ve got a lot buildings going up since Ratner started Barclays,” said Glen Johnson, who works at Ultimate Auto Repair and Sales, a body shop at 858 Atlantic. “Eventually all these auto shops and dealerships, they’re going to go out of business.” Those sites are between St. James Place and Grand Avenue, and between Grand Avenue and Classon Avenue. (The latter has 20% affordable units.)

Indeed, the auto shops are not long for this area, as has long been predicted. The…

Barclays Center's fifth anniversary gala suggests a circle of awardees

Well, how about that. The arena's loyal partner Billboard reports, in yesterday's Shining a Light on Brooklyn' Gala: Brooklyn's Barclays Center will celebrate its fifth anniversary with the inaugural "Shining a Light on Brooklyn" gala at the historic Liberty Warehouse on Red Hook's Pier 41 on Oct. 12. Proceeds from the event -- which will feature a performance by Leon Bridges and an after-party DJ set by Chromeo -- will benefit the venue's Barclays Center Cares foundation, which supports community programs for children and families through its work with more than 300 schools, food pantries, homeless shelters, health facilities and nonprofits. It's curious that they'll have the event in Red Hook, not at the arena. (Less expensive to keep a smaller venue open late?)

A circle of awardees

But it's even more notable how... circular the event is. Note those being honored, at the official page:

Times hypes 550 Vanderbilt green space, ignores adjacent "raw industrial site"

Ah, the (spoon-fed real-estate) press just can'tget enough of the garden at 550 Vanderbilt. See Hippie Amenities With a High-End Twist, from tomorrow's New York Times Real Estate section, posted yesterday:
Just as Birkenstocks and bee pollen have come back in style, so have crunchy lifestyle concepts, from yoga and meditation to composting and home fermentation. And with veganism, Waldorf schools, doulas and healing crystals shifting from far out to very much in fashion, a growing number of New York luxury buildings have embraced the hallmarks of 1970s hippiedom with a high-end twist. Look for amenities like rooftop gardens, kitchen composters, art and meditation studios, bike shares, infrared saunas, even an adult treehouse.
“Especially in Brooklyn, the concrete jungle is not the atmosphere people are aiming for,” said Ashley Cotton, an executive vice president of Forest City New York, whose recently opened condo in Prospect Heights, 550 Vanderbilt, developed in partnership w…

Next Quality of Life (aka update) meeting rescheduled for Sept. 19

It's not uncommon for the schedule of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related meetings to change, and once a previous one has been postponed, the rest get pushed back. And that's exactly what happened.

A message from Empire State Development: the next Quality of Life Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 19 instead of the previously scheduled September 6 date. This is an opportunity to raise questions about project operations and progress. Sometimes new information emerges.
Atlantic Yards / Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

No RSVP is required, but people can send project-related questions, concerns, or suggested agenda items for the Quality of Life meeting to

From ESD: "Pacific Park is Brooklyn’s newest neighborhood" (oh)

When the lottery for units at the "100% affordable" 535 Carlton opened a year ago, a lot of people were encouraging applications.

So I guess it shouldn't have been surprising that Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, alerted people to an upcoming information session.

But I was surprised to see the state reproduce the web page from developer Greenland Forest City Partners, including such nonsense as "Pacific Park is Brooklyn’s newest neighborhood." So I copied it.

Welcome to 535 Carlton, Brooklyn’s Latest Affordable Rentals - ESD Message by AYReport on Scribd

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: a brief summary in a new book on gentrification

A few recent books I've been reading--including Neil deMause's The Brooklyn Wars: The Stories Behind the Remaking of New York's Most Celebrated Borough and Kay Hymowitz's The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back--say interesting (and contradictory) things about Brooklyn, and deserve a longer assessment, along with a third book, Peter Moskowitz's How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood.

Moskowitz's overall arguments are worth engaging, but for now I'd like to address one specific paragraph regarding Atlantic Yards. (deMause's book more extensively addresses Atlantic Yards, if inevitably tilted to the early part of the controversy, while Hymowitz's book goes elsewhere.)

Moskowitz's brief focus on Atlantic Yards is another example of how (inevitably?) complex things get boiled down awkwardly or incorrectly for future consumption. I've seen this in other books, as well. It's unfortunate…

Two books and some advice on "being a better gentrifier"

In an interview headlined Toward Being a Better Gentrifier, CityLab's Brentin Mock interviewed the (out of NYC) academics (two white, one black) who wrote the new book Gentrifier about their experiences. And the interview complicates some easy bromides.

"The problem isn't gentrification: It's that my neighbors are getting locked up, or they are being over-policed, or there aren't any schools, or there’s lead poisoning in the neighborhood, or there aren’t any long-term rentals anymore," says Jason Patch. Those are things to organize about. (Or, I'd suggest, any social action that leads to solidarity and more civic and communal resources.)

"Evictions can happen due to disinvestment in a neighborhood, and [they can also] happen because of over-investment," says John Joe Schlichtman. " Eviction happens because of disconnection from the rest of the city and a neighborhood’s reconnection to the rest of the city. Militarized policing can happen du…

Given lack of walkable land in NY region, a new push for greater density outside NYC

In an April interview, New York magazine critic (and author) Justin Davidson, asked about New York City's future, responded:
The immediate question is how it can cope with an affordability crisis. I wish I knew the answer, but I emphatically don't. I think that the solutions to the question are largely out of local control. I think we're talking about large-scale economic mechanisms and national, international policy. And, perhaps, regional policy, a focus of the Regional Plan Association and other planners. The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: New York, released recently by the George Washington University School of Business's Center for Real Estate & Urban Analysis in partnership with Smart Growth America, recently pointed out that "just 2.4% of the total regional land mass in New York is considered 'walkable urban.'" The full report is embedded at bottom.

And that scarce land is far more valuable than the suburbs. According to the announcement:
Despite the…

From the latest Construction Update: median restoration on Atlantic Avenue opposite arena could begin Tuesday

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning August 14, median restoration work on Atlantic Avenue between Fort Greene Place and Sixth Avenue will likely begin during this week.

That's one block, bordering the Barclays Center and also the perimeter of the Atlantic Center mall (but not the Atlantic Terminal mall).

The MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) will be shifted, according to approved plans (presumably by the Department of Transportation), starting on or about Tuesday 8/15/17 ,to accommodate the median restoration work. However, the traffic flow will still contain three westbound and two eastbound lanes. The time frame to complete the work was not stated.

Also, relocation of the Vanderbilt Yard site access ramp on Pacific Street will begin during this reporting period. Contractor and LIRR access to the site will be via the LIRR Entrance on Atlantic Avenue.

The update was circulated Friday at 10:18 …

Which Brooklyn are we talking of? At least four.

We all hear about "Brooklyn the brand," or casual references to "Brooklyn" in popular culture. Remember, marketing for 550 Vanderbilt claims "Everything you love about Brooklyn."

But that "Brooklyn" is only a piece of the larger borough.

A new effort to reframe how we think about the borough--all the boroughs--comes from the urban-focused artificial intelligence studio Topos, in this Medium post (and described in FastCoDesign):
With the exception of Queens/Brooklyn, all boroughs are separated from one another by water. The implications and limitations of this physical partitioning of land have changed considerably since the initial formation of the boroughs. New York City is now connected by over 2000 bridges and tunnels, the vast majority of which were built after 1898.
...Furthermore, we were interested in going beyond more familiar demographic viewpoints to capture the personality of a place, and what it feels like to actually be there. In a s…

Yes, the concessions are here for new Brooklyn rentals

Well, Forest City Ratner's 461 Dean market-rate units are not alone in offering significant concessions on leases.

As reported by The Real Deal and The Bridge, the competition among new buildings has led to a glut. The Real Deal:
In July, concessions at residential rental buildings in the borough were the highest they have been in the seven years that they’ve been tracked, according to Douglas Elliman’s July rental market report for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. This demonstrates how protective landlords are of base rents at their buildings, according to Hal Gavzie, executive manager of leasing at Douglas Elliman. That means that some 22.1% of new leases involve concessions, versus 9.5% a year before, with concessions averaging 1.4 months of free rent. (Longer leases get bigger concessions.)

As Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller observed, this current percentage is a new but uncertain situation, because at a certain point tenants can't afford the base rents.

The question, not y…

Brooklyn population growth and poverty demographics from the Chamber

A September 2016 report ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF THE BROOKLYN ECONOMY – 2016 UPDATE, prepared for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, offers some perspective on both gentrification and the market for new housing.

The statistics it offers are through 2015, and I have not been able to find 2016 statistics. Notably, a 1.1% population growth from 2010-2014 turned into a .6% growth in 2015, largely attributable to a net loss in domestic migration (more people moving out).

The report is optimistic about growth and, indeed, there is evidence. Consider that a 2013 report from the Department of City Planning (DCP) predicted (p. 3) that Brooklyn's population would reach 2.68 million by 2020. However, DCP estimated the population at 2.63 million by 2016.

But if the rate of growth continues to be slow, that would raise questions about the market for luxury housing, including in projects like Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

Demographic trends

Note growth in white and Asian residents, and zero growth i…

A key stat from the Furman Center: as housing cost rose, incomes did not

A very important piece of context regarding affordability in New York City is often ignored.

A year ago, on 8/15/16, the Furman Center announced, Report: More Than Half of New York City Homes Unaffordable to the Majority of Households, suggesting that even those earning up to six figures had trouble buying homes in the city:
While roughly half of the city’s households (51%) earn $55,000 or less annually, they could afford just 9% of 2014 home sales. Even households earning up to $114,000 annually could only afford 42% of home sales in New York City. Only 22% of the city’s population earned upwards of $114,000 in 2014.
“Since 1990, incomes have stagnated while the costs of housing—both rental housing and home sales prices—have skyrocketed,” said Mark Willis, Senior Policy Fellow at the NYU Furman Center and co-author of the study. “As a result, there are not enough homes available for purchase at prices affordable to the vast majority of New Yorkers.” (Emphasis added)

This is stunning:

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment moving from MetroTech to Industry City

s noted yesterday by the Commercial Observer (Brooklyn Nets’ Parent Company Moving to 70K SF at Industry City) and other sources,  Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, operates the Barclays Center (and other venues) and the Brooklyn Nets, is moving its corporate offices to Industry City in Sunset Park from MetroTech.

That makes sense, as the company, no longer needing to be yoked to Forest City Ratner, its former partner, can move one floor below the Nets' practice facility. The Commercial Observer quotes a spokesman as estimating that the move should be accomplished by June 2018, and will  involve 350 employees. No terms were announced.

The press release, verbatim, below

August 10, 2017

New Sales Office Opens in Manhattan
BROOKLYN – Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment is expanding its corporate footprint with new office locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Since launching Barclays…

"Inspired Urbaneering": Greenland USA's tagline (and web site)

Greenland USA, majority owner of Greenland Forest City Partners, updated its onetime placeholder web site to a nice slick site last fall, and it's worth a look.

The full home page is reproduced below. It's probably not coincidental that the less controversial and complicated Metropolis project in Los Angeles gets billing over Pacific Park Brooklyn.

A new tag line

Greenland offers this tag line: "Inspired Urbaneering." What the heck does that mean?

If it's a combo of "urban" and "pioneer," well, the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site was hardly the hinterlands. Here's Greenland's overview, which offers some pleasant generalities:
Greenland USA’s mission is to create vibrant communities where people and neighborhoods thrive.
We develop residential and commercial properties that transform communities and exemplify modern living.

They are defined by their ability to fit seamlessly within a city, catalyze the local economy, foster the growth o…

Architect Cook: Pacific Park buildings "not a new neighborhood, but an extension to the existent neighborhood"

From the real estate web site 6sqft, 7/31/17, INTERVIEW: Architect Rick Cook on the legacy of COOKFOX’s sustainable design in NYC

Q: You’ve been working on 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt, part of the greater Atlantic Yards redevelopment. It’s a project with a lot of history, and will soon be a whole new neighborhood in Brooklyn. What’s that project been like?
Rick: We didn’t have an intention of being involved with the project formerly known as Atlantic Yards [now Pacific Park], but we liked the key people we worked with at Forest City Ratner [the developer] on a proposal for Seward Park. I saw how important the sites of 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt would be to the project… they could speak a language that could transition into, and be a part of, the adjoining neighborhood. Not something separate, not a new neighborhood, but an extension to the existent [sic] neighborhood. (Emphases added)

OK, so the official line is that the project "will soon be a whole new neighborhood,"…

Class action suit against Barclays Center and partners alleges unfair treatment of job applicants with criminal history

Bloomberg BNA reported 8/7/17, Barclays Center Flouts ‘Criminal History’ Hiring Law, Suit Says:
The Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, unlawfully denies employment to job seekers with criminal records without giving them required notice of their rights or a chance to explain their convictions, a proposed class of workers alleges ( Kelly v. Brooklyn Events Ctr., LLC , E.D.N.Y., No. 1:17-cv-04600, class complaint filed 8/4/17 ).
The actions of Brooklyn Events Center LLC, which owns and operates the arena, and two companies that provide food services at the venue also violate laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race and national origin by improperly relying on applicants’ criminal past to deny them employment. This “imports the racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system into the employment application process,” the class lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 4 in federal court, says.
The case is one of the first class actions under New York C…

Contrasting views of the marketing switch at 550 Vanderbilt, via the Real Deal

If you read the latest issue of the Real Deal, two articles published 8/1/17 offer contrasting views of the marketing switch made by Greenland Forest City Partners, swapping Corcoran Sunshine for Nest Seekers International.

From Solving NYC’s condo riddle:
A first line of defense for many developers is to shake up their marketing teams.
That’s what Forest City New York and Greenland USA did just last month at their 278-unit Brooklyn condo 550 Vanderbilt, where sales started strong but slowed to a trickle last year. Two years after launching, the project is about 65 percent sold. But how much of that early marketing success could be credited to Corcoran Sunshine, if a good chunk of units were sold--thanks to Greenland's domestic connections--to buyers in China?

From the article:
Still, the developers have refused to cut prices at the tower because they’ve counting on the building to establish a high price bar for other buildings at their Pacific Park megaproject.
“We’ve made a deli…

Former Prokhorov deputy Pavlova: "we did look into" making Barclays "hockey-friendly"

There's an interesting anecdote on the Brooklyn Nets fan podcast, The Glue Guys, in the Irina Pavlova Exit Interview, interviewing the recently departed (after seven years)president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, the holding company (owned by Mikhail Prokhorov) for the Nets, Barclays Center, and other properties.

The segment starts at about 8:26. One host asks if, in retrospect, there's anything that could have changed about the move of the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn.,

"I am satisfied how it's worked out, I mean, obviously, leaving basketball aside," Pavlova said. "There are a few things that we would have changed about the arena if we could. But at the point we got involved, it was already a done deal. So we couldn't go back and redo the drawings."

Remember, Forest City Ratner (led by Bruce Ratner) and parent Forest City Enterprises were the majority owners of the arena, and had already decided (in 2008) to swap Frank Gehry's larger …