Saturday, October 31, 2015

Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating

I offer a framework to analyze and evaluate Atlantic Yards (in August 2014 rebranded as Pacific Park Brooklyn) and the Barclays Center: Atlantic Yards, Pacific Park, and the Culture of Cheating.

Note: this post is post-dated to remain at the top of the page. Please send tips to the email address above, rather than posting a comment here.
A model shown in Brooklyn in September 2015, via Curbed

model shown to potential immigrant investors in China in 2014,
though not shown publicly in Brooklyn.

Friday, October 09, 2015

"True Corporate Citizenship"?: the Islanders open their season with savvy promotion (but no more arena rent)

The New York Islanders play their first regular-season home game tonight at the Barclays Center, and a host of publicity comes with it:
Adams and the outreach program

The New York Times sportswriter's described of the outreach program "announced" by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams--actually it was the Islanders, as far as I can tell--"to provide vouchers to Brooklyn community groups that would be redeemable for $10 tickets."

The Times did clarify what was missing in the press release: 50 to 500 vouchers will be available per game. It didn't clarify how many of those seats would be obstructed views and tough to sell.

At least the Times didn't use an Adams quote from the 10/6/15 press release, Islanders Launch Community Platform in Brooklyn: Community Pass to Provide Affordable Tickets to Thousands of Brooklynites, that was truly Markowitzian:
"The Islanders are Brooklyn's newest home team, and everyone should get a chance to see them and appreciate the game of hockey in person! The first time I went to an NHL game, watching the action on the rink and feeling the energy in the crowd, I was hooked on the experience,” said Brooklyn Borough President, Eric L. Adams. “Hockey can open doors for our youngest Brooklynites, adding another dimension to the sports scene that is an important part of life in our borough. I am proud that the Borough President's Community Pass, a program that represents true corporate citizenship, will open the doors of Barclays Center to residents that may otherwise not get the chance to see the Isles."
(Emphasis added)

What's "true corporate citizenship"?

It's not true corporate citizenship, nor is the team's willingness to a free six-week instruction program for kids, CityParks Street Hockey. However appreciated by recipients, the programs represent savvy corporate spending, which gains positive publicity and distracts from more significant public obligations.

True corporate citizenship, as I suggested a year ago, would mean the arena operator and/or team would pay additional fees to Empire State Development, the public agency that formally owns and leases the arena, for the right to have a second professional sports team.

That clause was in the 2/18/05 Memorandum of Understanding that Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner signed with New York City and New York State, public parties involved in the Atlantic Yards deal.

But it was nonbinding. And Empire State Development refused to answer my queries about it. And public officials like Adams have no interest in pursuing accountability.

It was plausible for the public parties to ask for more, because it implies that the arena would gain additional revenue from another team, eased by the significant public contribution--direct subsidies, tax breaks, giveaway of naming rights, override of zoning, inside deal on railyard development rights--that allowed arena construction.

The Daily News editorial

Today, in Feeling puckish: Hockey, and hockey fans, get ready to rush Brooklyn, the Daily News (original sponsor of the arena plaza), cheers:
When the Barclays Center arena was on the drawing board, fearmongers said Prospect Heights and Park Slope would fill with drunken hordes, especially after basketball games.
Fast forward four years. The Nets are in residence. There’s pro wrestling and boxing and concerts from Ariana Grande to Jay Z. The surrounding streets are lively — fans are good for business — but orderly and safe.
Now comes professional hockey. The puck drops for the regular season tonight. Brooklyn: Say a hearty hello to your New York Islanders.
Who surely will not bring drunken hordes coming from out east on the LIRR. Right?
My comment:
Yes, a combination of factors--fewer drivers (loss of New Jersey Nets fans), more people taking public transit, smaller arena capacity after redesign, more people confining food/drink to arena--now suggest that many of the not illegitimate fears were overblown.
But the experience does vary. Residents in blocks nearest the arena don't exactly have a peaceful time. Bars draw late-night carousers on 5th Avenue--one resident I just met the other day complained about noise and urination near her residential window--and a good chunk of limos/black cars like to idle or park illegally on neighborhood streets. And of course the lack of residential parking permits means that arenagoers often claim street parking ahead of those who used to drive home after work.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Forest City's Gilmartin on "owning" air rights they haven't paid for, and a reminder of the bargain they got

An interview in the Commercial Observer's Owners Magazine 2015--Owners Magazine—a yearly compendium of interviews and features about the city’s landlords and developers—with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin has a couple of nuggets.

Q: What are your thoughts about the “b” word [bubble]? 
A: I think NYC remains incredibly strong. The shaky international markets may certainly have some impact over time on the super high end, but NYC will continue to attract a wide range of people from all economic backgrounds and we are focused on meeting all of those needs.

Of course it helps when, in the case of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, you're partnered with a foreign majority owner, the Greenland Group, which owns 70% of the project going forward (excluding the Barclays Center and B2 tower).

Q: If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be? 
A: I prefer air rights over rail yards—bigger, bolder and even more complicated.

Um, they don't *own* the 3.6 million square feet of air rights over the Vanderbilt Yard yet, because Forest City, instead of paying the full $100 million in cash originally promised, in 2009 got to put down $20 million for the portion of the railyard needed for the arena, then could pay the rest over 22 years, at a gentle 6.5% interest rate, for 3.6 million square feet. 

They will now pay faster, in about 16 years, if the buildout is by 2025 as now projected. As I wrote last year, the upside went to Forest City, as the economy, and real estate market, swung back quickly.

A new appraisal in 2010 of Atlantic Yards land, which included some land over the railyard, valued development rights at more than $179/square foot. The market has continued to rise. At $350/square foot, 3.6 million sf is worth $1.26 billion!

Forest City--now Greenland Forest City Partners--has/had hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs for the new railyard, deck, and new transit entrance that were part of the deal and required to get vertical development started over the railyard segment

But even if that cost hits $400 to $600 million--now, with increased construction costs, a sum far more than Forest City ever estimated--it still looks like a huge bargain.

In Manhattan, with Hudson yards, the Commercial Observer reports:
In total, the rail yards have a whopping 4.5 million square feet of development rights sitting above them. While most air rights cost whatever the market deems them to be, the MTA controls the rights above the eastern rail yards, according to the DCP report. Instead, the price of air rights transferred is determined by a ratio that’s calculated at 65 percent of what the property under development is appraised. When the Moinian Group bought 240,156 square feet of rights from over the rail yards last year for 3 Hudson Boulevard, the developer paid about $350 per square foot, according to DCP.
So maybe the rail yards in Brooklyn are worth less, because you have to factor in the infrastructure cost. But at $250/sf, with no subtraction for the cost of railyard and deck, 3.6 million square feet over the Vanderbilt Yard are worth $900 million. At $200/sf, the development opportunity is worth $720 million.

Remember, they're paying $100 million--and now interest aimed to reach that same $100 million present value.

Most exciting other projects

Asked the most exciting project under development in the city her firm is not involved with, Gilmartin cited the New York Wheel/Staten Island Ferris wheel. (Bonus: it's another project funded by below-market EB-5 loans from immigrant investors seeking green cards.

The other 33 interviewees cited a range of projects, with a modest plurality to Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center. But Tommy Craig, Senior Managing Director, Hines, said:
Pacific Park—formerly Atlantic Yards—which is currently being carried out by Forest City Ratner and Greenland. Brooklyn is arguably the most exciting “new” urban location in the country and this project has been one of the catalysts in establishing a real focal point in place within the historic neighborhoods.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

What's missing (again) from Forest City's corporate social responsibility report

Forest City Enterprises on Monday issued its third annual corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, Built on Purpose: Reinforcing Our Foundation, covering the year 2014 and, according to them, they are super-responsible, pushing for sustainability, charity, diversity, and other good things. (See press release at bottom.)

After all, according to the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), they are fully compliant with nearly all the disclosures in the GRI Index. That means "Application Level B," which apparently (the GRI is rather murky) is not quite as transparent as "Application Level A."

What's missing: the details

Let me drill down. As with the previous years (my coverage of 2012, 2013 reports), there are some key metrics to social responsibility that they won't touch: operations with potential negative impacts; mitigation measures in response to actual/potential negative impacts; displacement caused by development, government assistance, and political contributions.

Unlike in the past years, there were no mentions of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, though I must admit the design of the website is a labyrinth.  (The did this past year agree to analyze risks related to Corruption, which was absent from previous reports.)

What's missing: the graphics

Oct. 5, 2015 -- Forest City Enterprises, Inc., (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) today released its 2014 corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, Built on Purpose: Reinforcing Our Foundation. The 2014 report is Forest City's third annual CSR report and includes updates on the company's strategic management of environmental, social, economic and governance matters.
"At Forest City, our shared commitment to corporate responsibility is rooted in our core values and brought to life by our talented associates, who work every day to serve our residents, guests, tenants, partners and communities," said David LaRue, Forest City president and chief executive officer. "We sincerely appreciate our associates' innovative and consistent efforts to create shared value and stronger relationships with all of our stakeholders."
The 2014 CSR report details Forest City's efforts to expand stakeholder engagement and strengthen its governance and performance as it continues to own, develop and manage apartments, retail, office and mixed-use properties.
Among the company's notable achievements in 2014 was the formation of a Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Council to engage subject matter experts from across the enterprise to provide strategic guidance, develop consistent methodologies, and embed CSR principles in daily operations.
In addition, Forest City's corporate and property management teams achieved significant reductions in both energy consumption (8.9 percent) and greenhouse gas emissions (10.5 percent) across the company's comparable portfolio.
Other 2014 highlights include:
  • Developing an enterprise-wide procurement strategy with CSR criteria
  • Adding two new associate resource groups: United Way Young Leaders, a skills-based volunteering group, and Unidos, a Hispanic associate group
  • Supporting Gay Games 9, an international sporting and cultural event, through direct financial support, associate volunteering and in-kind donations as a platinum sponsor
  • Ranking as a Top Workplace in Cleveland, rising from 18th to 11th in the category of large employers with more than 500 local employees
  • Participating in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), an industry-driven organization committed to assessing the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios around the globe.
To learn more and read the entire report, please visit
About Forest City
Forest City Enterprises, Inc. is an NYSE-listed national real estate company with $10.3 billion in total assets. The company is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate throughout the United States. For more information, visit The company publically reports its sustainability goals and performance, along with a wide range of other metrics and activities, annually in a Corporate Social Responsibility report, available at

GRI has confirmed that this report has been prepared according to GRI Guidelines at Application Level B. Click here to review official documentation from GRI. For details about GRI’s Application Level Check Process, click here.
Information within this report reflects our CSR strategies and performance from January 2014–December 2014. Our last CSR report was published in September 2014 and we report annually.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Intersection/Prospect Heights project aims to start dialogue on neighborhood change (and where's AY?)

They're calling it a "participatory art project," but it's really more about neighborhood history, with panels starting tomorrow night and a walking tour on October 17. (See more details below.)

Recently launched is Intersection/Prospect Heights, which "uses photographs and oral histories to start a dialogue on the social, psychological, and physical impacts of rapid change in this Brooklyn neighborhood."

Translation: it draws on the early 2000s photographs and oral histories of Prospect Heights (articlepsychology dissertation) by Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, founder of the urbanist studio Buscada, to stimulate new conversations. At public events, on the website, and in cards inserted in neighborhood guides, residents are encouraged to share their stories about what in Prospect Heights is important to them.

The research only obliquely touches on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park; the dissertation infrequently mentions the project, and the six printed neighborhood guides--available in several stores and other locations--have one mention. So it's unclear how much the ongoing project will address it, though surely it's inevitable.

After all, Bendiner-Viani's project was less about recent political history and urban planning--though there's a useful history of Prospect Heights in the dissertation--than about what people find meaningful in a neighborhood, from a busy cafe (The Usual, closed earlier this year) to a supermarket (Met Food) to a civic building (the Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library).

A sense of loss

The project conveys a sense of loss, from African- and Caribbean-American residents especially, as Prospect Heights transitioned to a whiter, more affluent neighborhood. In one case, an interviewee--a man who bought a Vanderbilt Avenue store when it was abandoned--suffered a grievous loss, when he was defrauded and lost the building, and forced to move to East New York.

There is mention of jobs lost when the Ward Bread Bakery closed, but not about how the building, as well as other industrial buildings in Prospect Heights already converted to housing, were demolished for Atlantic Yards.

The Atlantic Yards mention

At right is the excerpt from the one neighborhood guide mentioning Atlantic Yards, from Julia, who according to the brochure as of 2003 had lived in Prospect Heights for 20 years and still lives in the neighborhood. (The dissertation describes her as an African American legal librarian, who "was recently mugged outside her house and found herself shouting at her assailant, 'but don’t you understand, this is a nice neighborhood!'")

Her excerpt is titled "The fence, St. Marks Avenue":
People had signs up--Atlantic Yards pro and con, and you know: who’s a fool, you’re a fool, they're a fool. "You say you’re for affordable housing, how you can be for affordable housing if you’re not for this project?" "You think there’s actually going to be affordable housing in this project?!"
Friends of mine and I, on opposite sides of the argument see each other, and we’re like, "We used to be more friendly. And we couldn’t figure out what to do about being more friendly.
And I said, smile more, what I’ll do is I’ll sit on my porch more, I said, you sit on your porch more. We used to sit on the porch—we were so broke that was the only entertainment we had. Sit on the porch, have a cigarette, say hello to people, give ‘em shots, hand ‘em a beer. And we didn’t do it a lot, but we did it enough
"We were saying that we used to be nicer, and I said, well, we used to have less money."
Adding ambiguity is an additional quote at the end that appears in the dissertation: "And, I don’t want to have less money—do you want to have less money?

Fuzzing Atlantic Yards

Adding to that Atlantic Yards discussion in the dissertation (which covers Prospect Heights and a neighborhood in Oakland), Bendiner-Viani wrote:
For example, in Prospect Heights, the negative emotions that have surrounded the embattled Atlantic Yards development have become more important to Julia than her opinion on the development itself. The development now signifies only the community disagreements and bitterness that have taken place among formerly close friends, leaving her with a sense of loss and disruption in the social fabric of her community, before anything has been built. 
That may be so, but facts matter too. To follow up the issue raised in Julia's excerpt, two 100% "affordable housing" buildings are under construction now, their construction accelerated--after the project was delayed--as part of a 2014 deal with the state and developer signed by, among others, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), a sponsor of Intersection/Prospect Heights.

However, the affordable units are skewed to higher-income households than long promised in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, and the PHNDC, as part of BrooklynSpeaks, for years contended that even that longtime promise of affordability was not enough to serve the community. But no longer.

Finding the printed guides

The locations in red are where you can find the guides, which discuss locations marked in blue.

The project is sponsored by Buscada, Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and Brooklyn Public Library, with grants from the New York Council on the Humanities, Citizens Committee for New York City, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association, and the Carlton Avenue Association.

For discussion: rapid change

“Changes driven by development and rezoning as experienced by Prospect Heights are now faced by other New York City neighborhoods,” said Dr. Bendiner-Viani in the press release. “Valuing everyday experience and perceptions of place can help us create space for dialogue on the forces shaping our city. We hope the approachable form and personal narratives of this project will let participants laugh, cry and grapple with the experience of what is too often framed as the city’s inevitable trajectory.”

“What’s happened in the last 10 years is very, very significant. The changes are quite radical,” she told DNAinfo, noting that at least half the places cited--including The Usual diner and the Zenith electronics store--have closed.

Indeed, depending on the direction of the walk, the under-construction towers that are part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project are unmistakable, as is the Barclays Center arena, which, in its Flatbush Avenue retail space, just happens to host a sales office for the 550 Vanderbilt condo building, complete with a model of the expected project.

By the way, there's one other extremely oblique Atlantic Yards connection, as Mike, the owner of the now-closed The Usual, wears a t-shirt featuring The Spunk Lads, a group that performed at Freddy's Bar & Backroom and was led by anti-AY activist Scott Turner.

Public sessions

As noted in the press release below, there will be "Place Conversations : Open to all to tell, and hear, stories about personally significant places" at the Brooklyn Public Library on Wednesday, October 7, 6:30-8:30 pm, with radio host Bob Law and journalist George Packer, and on Saturday, October 24, 3:30-5pm, with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Public Advocate Letitia James, with public participation invited.

On Saturday, October 17 at 3 pm, there will be "a creative walking tour of the Intersection sites, joined by the Intersection tour guides," led by Bendiner-Viani. Meet @ Met Food, 632 Vanderbilt Ave, between Park Place and Prospect Place.

The brochures

The press release

Participatory art project opens conversation on transition in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood
Intersection | Prospect Heights draws on oral histories and photographs from past and present
to explore the impact of rapid change on a community’s identity and sense of place

BROOKLYN, September 24, 2015: The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), Brooklyn Public Library, and urbanist studio Buscada today announced the opening of Intersection | Prospect Heights, a multidisciplinary public art project that uses photographs and oral histories to start a dialogue on the social, psychological, and physical impacts of rapid change in this Brooklyn neighborhood.

In recent years, Prospect Heights has seen tremendous physical change, including the clearing of the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site, the construction of the Barclays Center arena, and the development of much of the neighborhood’s vacant property. Since 2000, Prospect Heights’ population has remained close to 20,000 residents, yet there have been significant shifts in race and income, indicating the displacement of a large number of people. Since 2000, the neighborhood’s African American population declined from 55% to 30%, and the percentage of residents earning more than $100,000 jumped from 15% to 41%.

In a convergence of art, research and advocacy, Intersection | Prospect Heights will host a series of participatory events about the changes that have occurred in the neighborhood in the last 15 years. Beginning on October 3, the project will engage current and former residents of Prospect Heights -- and New Yorkers from all neighborhoods -- with a series of neighborhood guides, popup exhibitions, guided tours and public conversations. Building on Buscada founder Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani’s work in the neighborhood in the early 2000s, the “guidebooks” use her photographs and oral histories to show neighborhood places through the eyes of residents from over a decade ago.

The project encourages past and present community members to contribute their own reflections on neighborhood places though storytelling cards, the project website, participation in two public “Place Conversations” at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, and by having their story recorded in an interview at the library. As part of Intersection | Prospect Heights, PHNDC will also conduct a neighborhood development survey, reprising a similar study carried out in 2004.

“Dr. Bendiner-Viani’s prior work in Prospect Heights provides a unique vantage point to assess the impact of changes over the last decade to our community,” said PHNDC Chair Gib Veconi. “Construction underway today in Prospect Heights is expected to add more than 14,000 new residents over the next decade—a population increase of more than 70%. We hope the dialogue fostered by Intersection| Prospect Heights will help our neighborhood approach the changes yet to come.”

“Changes driven by development and rezoning as experienced by Prospect Heights are now faced by other New York City neighborhoods,” said Dr. Bendiner-Viani. “Valuing everyday experience and perceptions of place can help us create space for dialogue on the forces shaping our city. We hope the approachable form and personal narratives of this project will let participants laugh, cry and grapple with the experience of what is too often framed as the city’s inevitable trajectory.”

“Brooklyn Public Library is a resource for the study of Brooklyn’s past, as well as a place for a dialogue about its future,” said Melissa Morrone, supervising librarian at Central Library's Information Commons. “We’re delighted to collaborate with Buscada and PHNDC to present Intersection | Prospect Heights as part of our Brooklyn Transitions series.”

This fall’s Intersection | Prospect Heights events include the following:
Popup exhibitions and guides around the neighborhood
From October 3 to November 15, 2015. All locations at

Place Conversations : Open to all to tell, and hear, stories about personally significant places.
Wednesday, October 7, 6:30-8:30pm : Exhibition Opening and Place Conversation
@Information Commons Lab, Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza
Featuring stories from radio host Bob Law, journalist George Packer and you

Saturday, October 24, 3:30-5pm
@ Information Commons Lab, Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza
Featuring stories from U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and you

Guided Tour : Prospect Heights : A creative walking tour of the Intersection sites, joined by the Intersection tour guides, and led by artist Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani. Walk back in time to see the present in a new way. Participants can share their stories and add their own places to the tour.
Saturday, October 17, 3:00pm, Meet @ Met Food, 632 Vanderbilt Ave, between Park Place and Prospect Place

For a full list of events and activities, visit

This presentation of Intersection | Prospect Heights is made possible through grants from the New York Council on the Humanities, Citizens Committee for New York City, Council Member Laurie Cumbo, the Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association, and the Carlton Avenue Association.

Monday, October 05, 2015

As the Islanders "Brooklynize," it's different than the Nets

The New York Islanders' first season in Brooklyn begins Friday, 10/9/15, and the move from Long Island has turned out to be different than the Nets' move from New Jersey.

On 9/30/15, the New York Times Sports section unwisely highlighted (right) Islanders’ Opening Night at Barclays Will Blare Familiar for Fans New and Old,  a day after the MTA issued a press release, Islanders Score with the Sound of NYCT Subways.

The Times wrote:
This last dress rehearsal also had a fresh audio touch — a new goal horn straight from the subway.
“When you think about how best to embody what New York City is all about, the subway is one of the first things that comes to mind,” said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which partnered with Barclays Center on the project."
Despite the effort to highlight transit, there was already a backlash, as noted on Lighthouse HockeySports Illustrated, and a petition.

Others, like this CBS local columnist, suggested Islanders Fans Need To Relax And Stop Complaining and this Post columnist later wrote Get over it, everyone: The Islanders are in Brooklyn now. But the message came through.

Yormark's non-turnabout

After the backlash, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark--who's in charge of Islanders' marketing and sales, in exchange for a fixed payment to the team--told ESPN that arena operators would back off on the goal horn.

"I'm not acquiescing to the Islanders fans, what I am doing is doing the right thing," Yormark claimed. "And the right thing is welcoming the Islanders fans to Brooklyn, do it the right way, and we feel this is part of that process."

Not acquiescing? Such inability to acknowledge reality is reminiscent of Yormark's turnabout regarding the first Nets home game in 2012, which was full speed ahead even after Superstorm Sandy knocked out public transit, until it wasn't.

No wonder some commenters on Lighthouse Hockey called him smug, condescending, and narcissistic.

As Dan Saraceni wrote on Lighthouse Hockey, Yormark made reasonable points about trying to appeal to a broader universe of potential fans while keeping old fans, but he undermined them by urging them to listeners to buy season tickets. He also noted, "The traditions that people like will float to top and the rest will sink."

A different fan base

While the Nets essentially rebooted a new fan base, the Islanders retain a strong fan base, though that doesn't mean they'll all come to Brooklyn for games. "We wanted to keep every [Nets] fan we could from New Jersey, but the fan base in Jersey wasn't as passionate as the fan base on Long Island," arena COO Fred Mangione told Sports on Earth.

About 30% of ticket buyers are from Long Island, compared to 33% from Brooklyn and Manhattan. Then again, only a quarter of Nassau Coliseum season-ticket holders renewed for Brooklyn, notes Joe DeLessio of Sports on Earth, countering some of the arena spin..

Mangione, interestingly enough, said the arena is stressing parking: "That Long Islander that's used to driving, there's over 3,000 spaces on the perimeter of the arena that the fan base also didn't realize, and when they received their literature and their season tickets and they saw all the layouts, they realized that they have the option to do that as well."

Note that, as Nets fans have discovered, there's lots of free parking too, thus frustrating residents. After all, parking in lots is $20 to $40 per vehicle, more for SUVs.

The alternate jersey

The marketing phrase is "Tradition has a new home."

As Yormark told the Times before the horn flap, “Probably our biggest mistake was thinking I could overly Brooklynize the team,” Yormark said. “Fans were very outspoken about not changing the primary jersey — home and away. After hearing from all the fans we decided, no, we can’t touch that. That’s sacred ground.”

But they could partly "Brooklynize." So there will be a third, and alternate jersey, in black-and-white, to be worn at 12 home games. It comes with a "presenting sponsor": Modell's.

"It has nothing to do with the Nets," Yormark claimed on ESPN. "The colors of the borough are black and white. We need to connect and cement this team in Brooklyn in a couple of ways."

Um, as numerous commenters have pointed out, those are the marketing colors of the Nets. As one commenter on Lighthouse Hockey put it, "Uhh, blue and gold are the borough’s colors and nobody associated black and white with Brooklyn until the Nets moved there."

From Brooklyn Borough President
(Interestingly, the Daily News's Bob Raissman complained that ESPN's Michael Kay was far tougher on Yormark than he is on Madison Square Garden officials, whose teams, the Knicks and Rangers, are broadcast on ESPN. That may be so, but I'd say that most sports journalists are too easy on their subjects, including Yormark.)

There's also a much tougher fan based; as DeLessio pointed out, there's a Twitter feed "devoted to picking out the worst of the worst comments from the team's official Facebook page."

Other issues

According to the news coverage of Islanders' pre-season games, fans appreciate the nicer, newer Barclays Center facilities, some miss tailgating, and many are willing to take the Long Island Rail Road to Barclays. Players will drive, take the train, or take a car service, and stay in a hotel after practice before a night game.

As noted on Lighthouse Hockey, the full pricing on exhibition games kept attendance down.

Hundreds of seats have obstructed views, though they have lower prices. The Wall Street Journal, assessing The Good Views and Bad Views About Barclays Center, suggests there are both.

As for the off-center scoreboard in an arena built for basketball, well, Mangione told Sports on Earth that decision was above his pay grade.

As the Times reported:
The longtime Nassau Coliseum organist Paul Cartier is closer to the ice at Barclays than he was on Long Island, but he cannot see the net below him from his keyboard. He has to look at the giant scoreboard screen above the ice.
When Cartier is not playing the welcome tones on his Lowrey Sensation organ, loud pop music blares at every other stoppage of play, even though Yormark speaks of “toning down” the cacophony of the N.B.A. game experience.
Sparky the Dragon, the popular furry mascot at Nassau Coliseum, did not make the transition to Brooklyn. Neither did the skating Ice Girls. Both were longtime staples.
But plenty of elements from Long Island will be present in Brooklyn. Four Stanley Cup banners are already hanging in the arena
There's a bit more to that. As Daniel Friedman wrote on CBS New York, "It took severe fan backlash to get all of the division and conference championship banners in the Barclays rafters."

New promotional efforts

The Barclays Center, as noted on Lighthouse Hockey (drawing on Sports Business Daily), aims to infuse some "Brooklyn coolness" into the brand. Then again, Yormark says he recognizes that thye "NBA is very much also about entertainment," while "the hockey fans are a little bit more of a traditional fan."

The Islanders have 29 new partnerships, whatever that means: NYCB, BlueRock Energy, Justworks, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Geico, Professional Physical Therapy, MillerCoors, Viber, American Express, NY Lottery, P.C. Richard & Son, TGI, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Baked in Brooklyn, Honda, Northshore LIJ, Maimonides Medical Center, Haworth, ctms, MSC, Industrial Supply Co., Lifestyle Sports Group, NAM, Imperial Bag & Paper Co., LLC, Pepsi, Las Vegas Tourism, OK Petroleum, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.

The Islanders don't yet have a pro shop in Brooklyn, with two listed on Long Island.

Reported the Sporting News in February:
Russians love ice hockey, so the Islanders will target the large Russian immigrant community in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach.

“We haven’t done well tapping into that Brighton Beach community. We think hockey can be a great catalyst for that,” Yormark said.
OK. Remember how in 2009 Russian-American Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny asserted the sale of a majority of the Nets to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov would, in the Courier-Life's paraphrase, "probably trigger a big explosion in the local Russian media resulting in more Russian-Americans going to Nets games." 

Or how Yormark in 2013 claimed that Russian hoopster Andrei Kirilenko--who wound up injured and has since departed-- "the best advertising for Brooklyn in Brighton Beach."

New advertising location?

And what about the photo below, from the Wall Street Journal? It's the first time I've seen the green roof of the transit entrance covered with advertising. Is that permitted? (I'll ask.) It doesn't comport with the project Design Guidelines since an independent transit entrance and plaza were never contemplated.

And what does that say about the potential for the arena green roof to be covered in advertising at some point, just as the arena roof once boasted the Barclays logo, despite no explicit permission?

Brooklyn Historical Society

A new exhibit

There's also an exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society about hockey in Brooklyn, which begins in 1925: “Brooklyn Americans: Hockey’s Forgotten Promise." The guy behind the exhibit is lawyer and former Andrew Cuomo aide Steve Cohen.

“With the Islanders coming to the Barclays Center, it is the right time to tell a story most people have never heard before,” the BHS's Marcia Ely told the Brooklyn Paper. “And this is a great family-friendly exhibit to experience before catching an Islanders game.”

The Brooklyn Historical Society also managed an exhibition about sports in Brooklyn at the time the Nets opened.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

How can three B2 modules be stored on site overnight? The limit should be one.

Forest City Ratner presentation
In November 2011, we were told by Forest City Ratner that, in construction of the B2 modular tower, "1 module will be delivered at night and stored on site overnight."

So how could three modules have been stored on site today, a non-work day, on a long truck in the work zone that stretches into Dean Street behind a green construction fence?

(Note that Saturday work on the building is ongoing. Were any modules taken down from the structure?)

Surely the mods will have spent a few nights on site.

Photos from October 4

Exterior panels flap again on B2 modular tower

In July 2014, I posted video of exterior panels on the B2 modular tower flapping in the breeze, part of a larger problem with ensuring that modules fit precisely. Those were on the Dean Street facade.

Yesterday, as the photo and video below show, the problem was around the corner, on the side facing Sixth Avenue. That doesn't mean those units are vulnerable to water penetration. But it does mean that modular construction remains a challenge.

From the Real Deal: pros/cons of local vs. imported modular construction, plus doubts about whether Forest City can "export"

The September issue of The Real Deal has a very interesting article headlined Modular imports edge into nascent Brooklyn industry, explaining how seemingly successful modular construction operations in Brooklyn--for projects in Manhattan, for Atlantic Yards B2, and more--coexist with a plan to build pods in Poland for a high-end hotel in Williamsburg.

"Attitudes across the industry run the gamut from apprehension to outright disbelief," writes Tess Hoffman, pointing to concerns regarding oversight "of design and city building standards."
At the same time, efforts at local production raise questions:
Richard Lambeck, chair of the construction management program at NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, said that while he is optimistic about the situation [a lower wage rate] Forest City has worked out with unions, “That’s not to say that people won’t be very creative and say ‘let’s go to China,’ like we have for curtain walls and steel and everything else,” he said. “People feel like they can build it cheaper in China.”
Exporting Forest City's modules?

While Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin has said her company hopes to export modules from FC Modular’s plant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Hoffman writes:
Some peers find the concept mind-boggling.
Monadnock’s [Tobias] Oriwol said the benefits of using a producer in the city are local knowledge and decreased transportation costs, but the product cost is undeniably higher.
“It’s not that Capsys is expensive, it’s just that New York is expensive,” he said. “So I don’t think the export market from here is that viable.”
[Craig] Rosenman agreed, saying that when Daten Group compared the cost of buying from New York City to buying from other Northeastern manufacturers, it determined that time was the only thing saved.
Of a potential New York City-based export industry, Rosenman said, “They have to pay New York City labor rates even for their factory workers. So I don’t truly understand how that model makes sense.”
That said, it depends on what they mean by "export." It could simply "export to the New York area," so as to take advantage of proximity.