Friday, January 20, 2017

38 Sixth will have a "state-of-the-art healthcare facility," but who is it for? And who's paying?

The health center is coming fairly soon, but what exactly is it?

It's The Pacific Park Brooklyn web site tells us, "Stay healthy and strong with a new state-of-the-art healthcare facility."

It sounds like a nice feature to have in the new real estate complex you might be moving into. And it may be.

After all, the 23,000 sf health clinic in 38 Sixth (aka B3), on four floors, including 2,739 at ground floor, will be no doc-in-the-box. But the genesis of the clinic is the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement, where it was noted for being "affordable to low-income families."

A fact sheet distributed when
 38 Sixth was funded (click to enlarge)
So, will the state-of-the-art facility be geared to the mostly well-heeled residents of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park? Or to low-income families? Maybe both. We'll see. (Curiously, there's no mention yet on the 38 Sixth web site.)

The history

According to the June 2005 Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (p. 26, and excerpted at bottom), the project developer and the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) "will work with an appropriate health care provider that will operate a community health care center" within the project.

The center will provide "comprehensive quality primary care" and include:
  • a health care clinic
  • health promotion center
  • health library
  • screening and wellness center
The developer is supposed to consult with the DBNA and program providers on the design, just as with the day care facility (aka "intergenerational center").

Who'll pay?

As with the intergenerational center I wrote about yesterday, there's wiggle room regarding costs. To ensure it's affordable to low-income households, the space will be provided "at rent and terms to be agreed on."

The developer may provide, at its expense, the initial tenant buildout, which may be recovered by lease terms. The developer is not obligated to provide ongoing funding. So perhaps elected officials may be asked for help.

More history

From the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement, Project Description:
The proposed project would also include a 20,000-sf health care facility that would provide a broad range of health care services to the community. Services at this proposed facility (program being developed) could include primary care and preventative services, specialty care, diagnostic testing and ancillary services and related support services to improve the management of prevalent chronic diseases. This health center would occupy a portion of the residential space and would be constructed during Phase I.
From the DBNA

The DBNA, one of the few if only CBA signatories still active, states on its website:
Our Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) Health Care Facility is part of creative change that will offer new opportunities for improving health in the communities of the Atlantic Yards footprint. As per the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), the Health Care Facility is described as follows:
[AY/PPR: This isn't precise, actually. For example, the wellness center is described only generally in the CBA.] 
"The Project Developer and the DBNA will work with an appropriate health care provider that will operate a community health care center to be located within a building at the Project. The center shall provide comprehensive quality primary care at client convenient hours, and will include a health care clinic, health promotion center, a library, screening center, and wellness center. The Health Care Clinic will provide primary care in areas that will be determined based on community needs assessment, real-time services being provided by existing health facilities and statistics from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The Health Promotion Center will provide a variety of health information and education sessions to patients and family members. The library will be a user friendly continual source of online information and print material on a plethora of health issues of concern to the community. It will also provide steps to take in a particular situation and steps in handling the threat of illness. The Screening Center is intended to provide screenings to support the services of the clinic. The Wellness Center will provide alternative medicine opportunities to include, but not be limited to, massage therapy and acupuncture.”
From the CBA

Thursday, January 19, 2017

From the latest Construction Update: new work at B3 site and around railyard

According to the latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Alert (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Jan 16 and circulated yesterday at 3:59 pm (way late) by Empire State Development after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP), there should be new work at the B3 site and around the Vanderbilt Yard.

At B3, aka 38 Sixth Avenue, site work along the rear of the building should commence, as should roofing on floors 9, 14, and the Main Roof/Bulkhead.

Repairs to the approach slap [sic; probably "slab"] at the southern end of the Sixth Avenue Bridge may begin at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street. The work will require traffic lanes to be shifted, but traffic will remain two-way.

Water and sewer utility installations are expected to begin inside the fencing along Atlantic Avenue.

After hours work

As in previous weeks, there may be Saturday work. Saturday work could occur at B2 (461 Dean), B3, B11 (550 Vanderbilt), B12 (615 Dean Street), and B14 (535 Carlton). Then again, pretty much nothing has been happening at B12.

Weekday foundation pile installation in the area the B5 site--east of Sixth Avenue, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue--may extend work hours up to 5:30 pm and may occur on Saturdays. Decisions to extend hours will be made on an ad hoc basis.

The demolition that hasn't happened

As stated in the past 16 construction updates, demolition at Block 1120, the railyard block between Sixth and Carlton avenues, could commence upon receipt of Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation permits. A community notice will be distributed. Maybe it's not actually going to happen.

When's that day care center "going in"? Once destined for final affordable building, so 2025? Or later?

It was just a casual aside in some fashionista blogger's paid-for gush over the 550 Vanderbilt condo tower: "There’s a roof deck with a gorgeous view for dinner parties, a daycare center going in Pacific Park and tons of retail and restaurants a stone’s throw away."

Oh, a day care center? When exactly is that "going in"?

Answer: not soon, not at all.

Also, while the gush suggested the day care center as serving market-rate purchasers of million-dollar apartments, the center's justification is to serve the poor.

The promised 15,000 square foot "intergenerational center," with child care, youth and senior centers sharing corridors and an atrium--as touted by the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, whose Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance in 2005 signed the Community Benefits Agreement--was as of 2014 projected to be in Building 6, due in February 2025.

That's in the middle of the center railyard block, which requires a costly deck. According to the tentative 2014 schedule below, it would've been one of the final two buildings, both opening that month.

That, as I explain below, represented a delay compared to the previous timetable, because of a new, more conservative formula--one I question--to calculate the expected need from low-income families. But even that now may be overoptimistic.

Building 6, aka B6, was once projected as opening in February 2025
New timetable

That would have been the end of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park construction, given a 2025 deadline for the affordable housing and a presumed simultaneous deadline for the rest of the project.

However, last November developer Forest City Realty Trust announced unspecified delays, with a financial model extending to 2035, which could mean completion of construction just a few years earlier, in the 2030s.

That doesn't necessarily mean the affordable housing won't be done by 2025, but it also raises questions about that deadline. Remember, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project.

(Remember, the original timetable 2006 pledge was ten years, and was later extended to 2035, a 25-year buildout. A 2025 deadline would mean a 16-year buildout from the 2009 approval. But now it could be longer.)

One building, not three

Despite the DBNA website suggestion (excerpt below) that the three centers would be in "three freestanding buildings," the approximately 15,000-sf community center would be in just one tower.

Same location, different buildout pattern, different logic

The timetable to build the center is new, and not just because of the murky schedule.

Instead of being in one of the first buildings in Phase 2, east of the arena block, it would be among the last. The full 100 child care slots would be needed only as the low- and moderate-income affordable housing units--which are backloaded, as I wrote, due to a recent skew to middle-income affordable units--get built out.

That's according to some 2014 calculations by Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/sheperding the project. Those calculations revised 2006 figures. Here's what's changed:
  • they're now counting available child care centers in a 1.5-mile study area, not 1 mile, which lowers the burden on the Pacific Park site to provide space
  • fewer children from low- to moderate-income households are estimated  to need subsidized day care than previously assumed. Instead of one child from about every three apartments needing such day care, only one from every five apartments would require such services. 
Why? State officials now estimate that more of those households would use family-based or informal child care services, an assumption I think may be optimistic, given the overall tenor of Pacific Park apartments.

Bottom line: they haven't abandoned the promise. But, as with some other aspects of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, it looks like an attenuation of a promise.

There is also a vague statement that "project sponsors have committed to monitor and, if necessary, work with" the city to provide up to "250 additional child care slots either on-site or in the vicinity of the site to meet Project-generated demand."

On site? Surely they can make more money by leasing on-site retail space.

I'd add that the 2014 analysis made no mention of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for Universal pre-K, which provides spots for all four-year-olds, and which could change all calculations.

High hopes in 2006

This was once a very big deal, at least rhetorically. Consider fervent, florid testimony at the 8/23/06 public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry, wife of the Rev. Daughtry, declared, "The educator that I am and having more than 35 years of experience working with youth, children and seniors, the possibilities of what an intergenerational initiative will bring for our youth, our seniors and our young people, bringing them together in this dismal time in our history as a nation, is one of the lights of hope on the horizon."

(Did "our" mean Brooklynites? Atlantic Yards residents? Black Central Brooklynites? People associated with the House of the Lord Church? Clarity was lost in the rhetoric.)

The Rev. Daughtry followed up, in punchy, preacherly tones, "We support this project because... it will provide an intergenerational center. And guess what, guess what, we have participated in the design of the complex.... It will provide a place for our young, a place for the seniors, a place for the youth to come together in an atrium designed by us."

From the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement
He made it sound like some sort of community project, rather than one with some community input.

The Community Benefits Agreement states (p. 28, exceprted at right) that plans will be made available to the DBNA "for review and comment" but that "design shall be in accordance with the physical guidelines of appropriate New York City agencies."

(If "designed by us" goes by the pattern of the Barclays Center Meditation Room," the Daughtry family will have a key role.)

Who's paying for the new center? According to the CBA, the developer will provide the space "at reasonable rent and terms to be agreed upon."

While the developer will pay for the initial tenant buildout, that will be repaid by public or private funds, or "during later lease years, to the extent that such remuneration is not detrimental to the operation of the center." In other words, stay tuned.

Shifting timing

The center is supposed to accommodate "at least 100 children with publicly funded vouchers available to income-eligible households."

According to the first Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (2009) regarding Atlantic Yards, the day care center was supposed to be built and opened "by the date of occupancy of the first Phase II residential building not containing a school," though that could be delayed if there were adequate nearby facilities to accommodate demand for subsidized day care services.

Obscured in the new Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, produced in 2014 upon the establishment of a new 2025 timetable for the affordable units, was a key change delaying the promised day care center.

How long? According to the updated memo, the day care center must be operating by the time "that certificates of occupancy have been issued for 620 of the Phase II affordable housing units targeted to households earning up to 80% AMI [Area Median Income]," though again delays are possible if there's sufficient alternate capacity.

That very specific guideline, as I explain below, likely means it would be among one of the last towers built.

Looking at the sequence

Below is a tentative buildout plan recent prepared in 2014 by Forest City Ratner. Only five towers in Phase 2, indicated in purple, would contain affordable units. The first three would have a total of 942 overall affordable units, but not 620 targeted to households earning up to 80% AMI.
Tentative plan: pink annotation represents Phase 1 buildings with affordable units; purple annotation represents Phase 2
Only when the final two towers are built, B5 and B6, would another 550 units be added. That would clearly trigger the 620 minimum needed to get the day care center operating.

Below, a 2014 draft document provided to ESD indicates that B6 would be the target location.

Previous promises, 2006

The promise has evolved. From the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 5: Community Facilities:
Child care facilities in the area surrounding the project site would be able to accommodate the increased population of children 12 years old or younger, introduced by the proposed project in 2010. The proposed project in 2016 would include the development of an intergenerational facility that would contain a day care center with more than 100 seats, which would increase the future study area’s day care capacity, and would be publicly funded or accept Agency for Child Development (ACD) [subsidized] vouchers....
According to the CEQR Technical Manual, a publicly funded day care center analysis is required if a project would result in more than 50 eligible children based on the number of low to moderate-income housing units provided. The proposed project would introduce approximately 333 and 1,350 new low- to moderate-income units by 2010 and 2016, respectively. Based on these numbers of new low- to moderate-income units, approximately 120 and 486 children under the age of 12 would be eligible for publicly funded day care in 2010 and 2016, respectively. 
(Emphasis added) 
From Final EIS
Revised promises, 2014 Final SEIS

From the 2014 Final Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), Chapter 1, Project Description:
At the time of the 2006 FEIS, a 100-seat child care facility was planned as part of the Project. While the 2006 FEIS did not identify any significant adverse child care impacts, the analysis of publicly funded child care facilities in the 2009 Technical Memorandum found that the updated background conditions and updated methodologies would result in additional demand for publicly funded child care facilities in the study area, which could result in a future shortfall of child care slots. Therefore, the project sponsors have committed to monitor and, if necessary, work with the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to provide up to approximately 250 additional child care slots either on-site or in the vicinity of the site to meet Project-generated demand. Chapter 4B, “Operational Community Facilities,” of this SEIS updates the analysis of anticipated day care demand.
Chapter 4, Operational Community Facilities, explains why the analysis changed, lowering the projected need:
Changed background conditions include new enrollment data and updated enrollment projections. With regard to methodology, the CEQR Technical Manual calls for an analysis for a 1.5 mile study area, whereas the 2006 FEIS and 2009 Technical Memorandum analyzed child care facilities within a 1-mile study area. The current multiplier for calculating demand for child care slots (0.178 eligible children per unit of affordable housing for households earning up to 80 percent area median income [AMI]) has also been changed. As a result of this change, the number of eligible children that would be introduced by Phase I and Phase II of the Project (198) is lower than the number projected in the 2006 FEIS (486) and the 2009 Technical Memorandum (537).
Under the revised methodology, it is projected that Phase II would introduce 160 children under the age of 6 who are eligible for public child care services, based on 900 affordable units that would be targeted to households earning up to 80 percent AMI. With the addition of the additional Phase II children (including demand from background development projects—taking into account Phase I of the Project—in the Future Without Phase II and also taking into account the provision of a 100-slot child care facility), child care facilities in the study area would operate at 126.58 percent utilization, with a deficit of 588 slots, 160 of which would be attributable to Phase II. Total enrollment in the study area would increase to 2,802 children, compared with a capacity of 2,214 slots, which represents an increase in the utilization rate of 1.58 percentage points over the No Action condition. 
(Emphases added)

Though the 160 students in Phase 2 might be too many for the 100-slot child care center, and there may be a deficit in the area, because the overall increase in the area caused by the project is relatively small, there's no "significant adverse impact.

Also, as noted in the same chapter, other factors--including home-based child care and public centers outside of the study area--could reduce demand from households in the project.

How did the ratio change?

How did the ratio decline to 0.178 eligible children per unit of affordable housing for households up to 80% of AMI? (That's essentially saying that it would take at least five units to have one small child needing publicly-funded day care.)

In the 2009 Technical Memorandum, the ratio was 0.53 children per low-income and low- to moderate-income unit.

According to a footnote in the 2014 document, "the CEQR Technical Manual multiplier is based on 2005-2007 American Community Survey data for children under age 6, at 200 percent Federal Poverty Level or below, and has been adjusted to exclude eligible children who would be expected to utilize family-based or informal child care services."

Sure, people use households use family-based or informal child care services. But those services, to my observation, are generally more available in lower-income communities or ones in which relatives are more likely to live nearby.

Thus, it's less likely that a stay-at-home mom living in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, which is mostly well-off households, would have the space and inclination to run a child care business from home. (And wouldn't that violate the lease?) And low-income households are not likely to have relatives immediately nearby.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Leasing for 535 Carlton seems delayed; will move-ins start in March or April?

When will 535 Carlton start leasing up?

Well, the Work in Progress sign on the scaffolding long said "Anticipated Completion: 4th Quarter 2016." (See photo at right.) That didn't happen.

The lottery for those "100% affordable" (but mostly middle-income) apartments began in mid-July, and is part of a process that typically leads to occupancy in six months, according to a handbook produced by the New York City Housing Development Corporation. (See graphic below.)

If so, occupancy should be starting right about now.

There's more facade now
That doesn't seem likely. As one applicant said 11/21/16 on a message board, "they are anticipating a move in date of March or April of 2017 and since they took so long with the Dean street lotto [my coverage] they are under some pressure to make this as efficient as possible."

Another, on 12/15/16, said she was told by her interviewer to expect a decision in January or February and move-in two months later. But another said 12/16/16 that they were told it would take some two months to hear back, but then six to eight months to move in.

On 1/3/17, the Department of Buildings issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for 535 Carlton, covering floors 1 through 6. So the building is getting closer.

Since the lower floors do open first, maybe there is a shred of rationale for the apparent--though denied--plan to concentrate the lowest-income households on the lower floors. They'd get in a few months earlier. Of course, later, when part of the building goes condo, the more valuable units are concentrated on higher floors.

(Note: no new document has been filed to indicate any new plan for the location of the low-income units.)
From NYC HDC's Marketing Handbook

Applicants worrying, wondering

Just as with the cohort of applicants with the 461 Dean affordable housing, a City Data online forum shows people anxious, hopeful, and underinformed.

Some worry about affordability. One wrote:
Okay, will someone please tell me how this is "affordable"?
For my income bracket I'd need to pay over $2100 for a 1 bedroom apartment! Isn't that market rate? Or above market rate in Brooklyn?
Not to mention almost double what I'm paying now on the open market.
This is nuts.
A response: "Market rate in downtown brooklyn is like 2700-3000, 2100 is actually a discount." (I'd note that affordable 1 BR units for this building go up to $2,680, as shown in the graphic below.)

Worrying about paperwork

Others are concerned about meeting the requirements:
"I spent all afternoon finalizing my paperwork for 535 Carlton. If this file folder dropped on my foot I'd have broken bones."
"We brought in our entire life and still somehow needed more paperwork things that werent on the list but advised that we needed."
A safe area?

Another worried about problems with an affordable building:
I read up on a similar building through this forum that opened this summer in the Bronx. It didn't have any market rate units (just like 535 Carlton) so it sounded like the building had non-responsive management and several people who won the lotto and moved in wanted to get out immediately and regretted the move. Within a couple months of moving in, they complained of gross laundry room conditions, trashed public spaces, and disrespectful neighbors. I have some fears about moving into a building that may be managed poorly like this because it's not a 80/20. Does anyone have reason to believe 535 Carlton will have better management?
The response was reassuring:
I know that area like the back of my hands, it will be nothing like what you experienced in the Bronx. Also more than 80% of the units are skewed towards people making $60,000- $150,000 so I'm pretty sure you won't have any issues with your neighbors and the building its self is brand spanking new with state of the art appliances by cook+fox architects. This building will feel like your in a 80/20 building even though it's 100% affordable because of the way they skewed most of the units towards the very top income brackets. I've heard some where they may have a poor door system [as I wrote] in this building where they have the lowest paying renters be situated at the lower floors of the building as oppose to the highest renters living on the tops floors with better views of downtown Brooklyn.
Is disruptive construction a deal-breaker?

One pointed out ongoing construction:
Are you guys at all concerned about the construction that's going to be happening on three sides of this building? I biked around the site a few weeks ago. They haven't even begun to cap the rail yards leading into Atlantic Terminal. Seems like a construction project that will take years and years, no?
Another responded that it was worth it:
From what I read, it'll end sometime in 2020-something. Not too concerned because the apartment building is beautiful and a roof over our heads is the goal. I'll live with the sounds of construction lol
Added another:
It's better to be around buildings going UP and getting built than being around buildings becoming abandoned and crumbling.
Continued uncertainty

The uncertainty continues, with a recent post:
I check it everyday but Nothing on my end. I check the mail everyday waiting for a rejection letter or ANY sort of news really and I haven't heard a peep. I am tempted to call but most people do not have much luck with that. I guess we just continue to wait. Its been 2 months since our intake interview, hopefully we will hear something soon.
 Another wrote:
I had my first interview first week of December and the guy said if I hear anything before four months it's most likely a rejection letter or more info is needed. He apologized too.
Another wrote:
I was told when I went in (Early Nov) that I should hear something in about 2 months for second interview and it would take about another 2 months until approval than another month or so to move in but it is clear it is taking much longer than expected. After 120 days you would need to resubmit your paperwork. 
If you are selected to move on to the next round you would actually be interviewed ( the first one is more like an intake interview) and more than likely shown the apartment that would be offered to you at that point you have the option to say whether or not you want the apartment as some people do decide to turn it down.
I am also a pretty anxious person and we are looking to move by May the latest so I REALLY REALLY hope that its into this building.
Another wrote under the screen name "Waiting-game":
I interviewed the first week of Nov and received a rejection letter on Friday stating that I did not turn in my savings account information. That is actually inaccurate and I will be appealing and resubmitting the required information once more.
Others chimed in with related experiences. "Waiting-game" followed up: "I was informed that the building is pretty much complete and I should again here something back in regards to a second interview within 2 to 10 months."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Next Quality of Life Community Update meeting Jan. 24; what's the agenda?

Greenland Forest City Partners (GLFC) and Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) will host the next Quality of Life Community meeting:
Tuesday, January 24, 6:00 PM
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place, Brooklyn NY 11201
1st Floor Conference Room
No agenda has been released, so what might be the issues? How about:
For those with questions, please contact Nicole Jordan of the ESD Atlantic Yards team at, who writes, "Please plan to arrive promptly in order to provide time for presentations and questions and answers from the community members.... Thank you for your continued commitment to the overall success of this project."

As number of applicants per affordable unit soars, city seeks ways to improve access to lotteries

So, how well do affordable housing lotteries work? According to a report (Improving Access to Affordable Housing Opportunities) by the New York City departments of Housing Preservation and Development and Consumer Affairs, they could be a lot better.

As summarized in City Limits, the application process needs to be clarified and streamlined. Indeed, the city also released a guide to applying for affordable housing, Getting Ready for Affordable Housing (also in Spanish).

The guide advises on such things as credit history, housing court history, the establishment of a Housing Connect profile for applications, applying for housing, preparing for an interview, and what to expect after the interview, including how to appeal a rejection.

That guide doesn't say how long you'll wait, which is one issue highlighted in the new report. "The number one takeaway from the focus groups was that the application process can be difficult to understand," the guide says, noting that applicants may share misinformation, failing to recognize that a high “log number,” which is randomly assigned, does not necessarily mean a higher chance of being awarded housing.

Confusion and delay

The report says:
The overall leasing process can be lengthy, in some instances taking more than a year. Updates about the status of one’s application are not always available, and applicants expressed worry that they were somehow forgotten or were missing emails, voicemails, and/or letters.
The report recommends building on the new guide with "a range of complementary educational materials." Indeed, as shown in the saga of applicants for the 461 Dean affordable housing, many are confused and don't know when and how to get updates.

As noted by City Limits, income requirements can be tricky, especially for households with fluctuating incomes.income that varies from one paycheck to the next or from one year to the next.”

Shadowing all this is the relentless rise in demand for the housing. In 2012, the city logged 158 applications per available unit, a .63% chance. In 2015, the figure was 883 per unit, a .11% chance. It may be even tougher by now.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Commercial Observer: Pintchik has a dozen leases signed, including sports gastro pub Kings Town

The changes around the Barclays Center, four years in, are still coming. In the Commercial Observer's 1/11/17, round-up, Landlord Michael Pintchik’s Big Plans for Retail on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue, there's some news:
And Pintchik has recently signed about a dozen leases for new restaurants and retail concepts. His goal is for Flatbush Avenue to be filled with offerings truly worthy of that decades-old vision.
...Of particular interest is what he is doing at 166 Flatbush Avenue, across from Barclays Center. There Pintchik signed a deal with a group of partners led by Peter Levin, the owner of sports bar Professor Thom’s in the East Village, and Jay Zimmerman, the owner of Queens watering hole Astoria’s Sek’end Sun, for a new sports-themed gastro pub called Kings Town with a 5,000-square-rooftop bar. The location will be a place for hardcore sports fans (with private rooms for draft nights), but it will not alienate the casual sportswatcher because it will serve an array of drinks and have a new American restaurant. That will open in April.
“It will be the venue for sporting events viewing in the borough,” said Peter Schubert of TerraCRG, who handled the deal for Pintchik.
(Emphasis added)

Pintchik and his family have laudably said no to Hooter's and McDonald's, test out future tenants, and have generally aimed to appeal to neighborhood customers rather than focus on arena-goers.

However, it may not be easy for a giant sports-themed gastropub to fulfill the general goal of what Pintchik calls "very artisanal, unique tenants." It will be busy. Will it be rowdy?

Here's the Kings Town web site, which has adopted that iconic Gowanus-area Kentile sign (which may return to a playground). An announcement says, "JOIN OUR MAILING LIST FOR your chance to be invited to the RED CARPET OPENING NIGHT PARTY HOSTED BY THE ISLANDERS."

A few comments on Twitter

From "Think About Your Soul": "Prokhorov gets Norilsk Nickel... and the people once again get nothing"

From "Think About Your Soul," a poem from Russian poet Roman Osminkin (translated by Keith Gessen), in a recent issue of N+1 magazine. It's about oligarchs, one of whom may be revered more in Brooklyn than at home:
The Rotenberg brothers get the pipelines
Deripaska gets aluminum
Mordashov steel
Magomedov grain
Kovalchuk gets the TV networks and newspapers
Yakunin trains and railroads
Anisimov the liquor industry
Miller gets Gazprom
And the people
once again
get nothing 
Think about your soul
think about your soul!
Shut your mouth.
Think about your soul
think about your soul!
Shut your mouth up tight. 
Yevtushenkov and Soldatenkov get the cellphone networks
Timchenko gets oil
Kerimov gets potassium
and Kovalchuk energy
The Rotenbergs again? Take chemical fertilizers!
Isaikin gets aircraft missiles and tanks
Timchenko terminals and ferries
Another Rotenberg gets the Khimki forest highway
Gref gets Sberbank
and Kostin, VTB
Prokhorov gets Norilsk Nickel
Prokhorov gets gold
And the people
once again
get nothing
There's more, and it's worth subscribing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ringing Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to close in May; occupied chunk of Barclays Center calendar

One year after bowing to pressure from animal rights activists (and more) and removing elephants from its shows, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close down the 146-year-old circus, citing increased costs and a higher than expected decline in ticket sales.

PETA claimed victory and called for other animal circuses to follow suit.

The circus has had an important place on the event calendar at the Barclays Center. with 15 performances upcoming in nine days, from Feb. 23 through March 3. (That also meant circus performers in trailers essentially camping out on "the pad" outside the arena loading dock, or parked on neighborhood streets.) And it was to be a staple of the revamped Nassau Coliseum, with 17 shows over nine days, from May 12 through May 21.

Both venues, operated by the same parent company, will now have to find substitute family-friendly entertainment.

According to CBS, the animals in the shows will be placed in suitable homes, while only a small number of the 500 people who work on the two touring shows are expected to get jobs with the company's other shows, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!

The press release

Feld Entertainment Announces Final Performances of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus in May 2017

Ellenton, Fla. – January 14, 2017 – Feld Entertainment Inc., parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® and the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment, announced today that the iconic 146-year-old circus would hold its final performances later this year. Ringling Bros.®’ two circus units will conclude their tours with their final shows at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, and at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017.

The decision to end the circus tours was made as a result of high costs coupled with a decline in ticket sales, making the circus an unsustainable business for the company. Following the transition of the elephants off the circus, the company saw a decline in ticket sales greater than could have been anticipated.

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was the original property on which we built Feld Entertainment into a global producer of live entertainment over the past 50 years,” said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. “We are grateful to the hundreds of millions of fans who have experienced Ringling Bros. over the years. Between now and May, we will give them one last chance to experience the joy and wonder of Ringling Bros.”

“This was a difficult business decision to make, but by ending the circus tours, we will be able to concentrate on the other lines of business within the Feld Entertainment portfolio,” said Juliette Feld, Feld Entertainment’s Chief Operating Officer. “Now that we have made this decision, as a company, and as a family, we will strive to support our circus performers and crew in making the transition to new opportunities,” she added.

Feld Entertainment’s portfolio includes Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross and Disney On Ice, among others. The company recently announced a new partnership to produce live tours of Sesame Street and expanded television coverage for the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross races.

Complete details on the remaining Ringling Bros. performances can be found online at Members of the media can visit or for visual assets.

Why that Trump press conference had something in common with Atlantic Yards press events

A 1/13/17 letter to the Times:
Apparently those cheering and applauding during President-elect Donald Trump’s news conference were Trump supporters invited by the Trump team who presumed that rather than attending a news conference they were at a Trump rally. Who decided this was a good idea? Is this the political equivalent of a laugh track for a sitcom? 
Moraga, Calif.
Why did that remind me of some Atlantic Yards events? No, they don't typically feature allies of the speakers heckling the press, but there's a lot of cheering and support.

I remember the press conference before the August 2006 hearing on the environmental impact statement, or the December 2012 launch of the B2 (ala 461 Dean) tower, or the December 2014 groundbreaking for the B14 (aka 535 Carlton) tower.

I'm not the only one to notice. Achitecture critic Karrie Jacobs called the September 2012 Barclays Center ribbon-cutting ceremony "pageant of self-congratulatory bonhomie." Sports business journalist John Brennan of the Record called it "more like a “celebration that the press gets to watch."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Two Atlantic Yards cameos in latest de Blasio affordable housing victory lap (plus: what's "affordable"?)

There was a bit of a deja vu quality to Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement on Thursday, presaged by a New York Times exclusive, touting a record number of affordable housing units built or preserved.

After all, the mayoral announcement regarding calendar year 2016 was not unlike last July's announcement regarding fiscal year 2016 (as Rosa Goldensohn of Crain's pointed out).

But there were a couple of Atlantic Yards cameos, with de Blasio stubbornly resisting evidence.

Screenshot from NY1 interview with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen
The Times article, New York Secures the Most Affordable Housing Units in 27 Years, was headlined in print as "City Gains More Affordable Housing, but Critics Say It's Not Enough."

The city counts 21,963 total units, including 6,844 new apartments. Market Urbanism blogger Stephen Smith noted that the mayor "pledged to build, on average, 10,000 new below-market apts each year."

And while nearly 20% of the units--well above the 8% goal set in 2014--were aimed at low income households with incomes below 25,000, that still doesn't come close to meeting the demand.

It didn't help that the Times generously phrased the administration's record of having "provided financing for projects that built or preserved a total of 62,506 apartments that are affordable to poor and working-class tenants. As seems obvious, those earning six figures aren't "working-class," and rents of $3,206 per month for a 2 BR (as at 38 Sixth) are well out of reach.

The Daily News quoted a critic:
“At a time of record homelessness in the city, Mayor de Blasio’s self-congratulatory victory lap on affordable housing is offensive and wrong,” said Katie Goldstein of the group Real Affordability for All, who said the city is not creating enough homes for “homeless or low-income New Yorkers who are most in need of deeply affordable housing.”
Also see City Limits coverage. The New York Post snarked that "Subsidized housing hasn’t even cut the ranks of the homeless, as promised. The shelter census is at 60,200, a record high."

At the press conference

Atlantic Yards came up twice during de Blasio's press event/press conference (transcript). At about 1:05, a questioner suggested that the advent of market-rate housing from a recozning could price people out. (Mayoral aide Wiley Norvell tweeted, "I've heard @NYCMayor talk about affordable housing 100 times. Never as cogent/thoughtful as he is here at 1:06:00.")

"Here’s how I would describe the fork in the road; there is a strategy you could choose," de Blasio responded, "which is essentially a status quo strategy, where you say we’re not going to do rezonings because we fear any intensification of development and we’d rather leave the status quo in place even though we won’t get new affordable housing built, we still think it nets out better. You can make that argument, right? Because the cost won’t go up in the neighborhood or there won’t be this place and etcetera."

He doesn't agree. "[E]verything I do I do because of the conversations I have had with every day New Yorkers, because of what I have seen in neighborhoods," he said. "And as a Brooklynite I tell the story of what I saw happen in neighborhoods where there were no rezonings – the story of Bushwick, the story of Bed-Stuy, the story of Prospect Heights I can go through many, many examples.:

"And what – even to the point when I was a councilman in my neighborhood in Brooklyn and we had to make a decision about Atlantic Yards my – and everyone knows that project has not completed anywhere near the timeline we wanted it to, but the original logic still holds."

The original logic still holds? It doesn't, not in the slightest. The "affordable housing" is much less affordable.

He went on to talk about how neighborhoods like Park Slope have become unaffordable.

What if affordable nears market rate?

Daily News reporter Erin Durkin noted that, while affordable housing is officially 30 percent of income, most people "probably think of it more colloquially." Some East Harlem apartments cost well over the median rent and some studios in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park will "rent for a few dollars more than the market-rate ones in that same project."

So, she asked, what's the benefit? And "how do you define what you can really consider affordable?"

"I think the big difference between a market and something done by the government is the government has an obligation to provide a guarantee to people," de Blasio said. And relatively few units will cost that much. (True, but why then did de Blasio call it a model?)

He added that the rent levels were locked in, while the "market does not offer any such guarantee. So what you’re describing today in five years might be a very different situation where the affordable housing unit is in a very different and lower price range compared to what the market around it is doing."

True, the rent stabilization that governs annual rent increases does offer a guarantee. But the issue is also that people who marched for that affordable housing can't afford it. As for five years from now, let's revisit the market-affordable gap in 2022.

What's affordable?

de Blasio talked about a couple he knew, a nurse and a firefighter, who said they couldn't find a home they could afford in Brooklyn. "Well, I think those folks deserve a chance to be here too. So that’s the theory of the case." (OK, but I wonder if they wanted a house--and the city's not building too many of them.)

Then he kind of danced around the issue. "So the question of what is affordable – this is like, I get the question all the time – it’s a very fair question," he said. "Affordable is – it’s a question for every family, what their situation is, what they can afford. We’re trying to match it with a whole range of families.... But if the thing – if I was able to say to you – affordable means every apartment in New York City is $1,000 a month and all, that would be a beautiful world. It would be an impossible world, but it would be a beautiful world. The real world is affordable is trying to find that sweet spot for a family that they can still afford to be here, and that’s very different depending on what family you’re dealing with."

Yes, HPD Commissioner Vicki Been added that higher-income households help subsidize units for lower-income ones. But de Blasio left a lot of latitude.

Let's put it this way: he's no longer saying, as he did in 2007, that some would cut it off at $80,000, but he wasn't sure.

Should those earning six figures, he was asked at the time, get subsidized housing?

“Definitely below six figures,” he responded. “Absolutely below six figures. Over eighty [thousand] I don’t think is what I’m thinking about, although there may be some exceptions.” 

Not any more. Thing is, costs have gone up. So has the Area Median Income (AMI), which is calculated to include wealthier suburban counties. So affordable rents go up. But for many in the city, incomes have been stagnant.

From Business Insider: Pacific Park by 2025?

The caption states that the top image indicates the "area 
where Pacific Park is being developed," though it omits
the extant arena and towers; the caption also calls the 
rendering below a "completed street," not a passageway
Business Insider's recent piece, 7 billion-dollar mega-projects that will transform New York City by 2035, indicates that not everyone has gotten the memo about Pacific Park's fuzzy new timetable:
Formerly known as Atlantic Yards, the $4.9 billion Pacific Park project will bring 6,430 new apartments (2,250 of which will be priced below market rate), an eight-acre park, and a variety of shops to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The site already boasts the world's tallest modular apartment building, which opened in November 2016.
The full Pacific Park development should be complete by 2025.
Actually, it won't.