No Land Grab: Doing The Wrong Thing: Spike Lee Won’t "Get Into the Politics of the Barclays Center"

July 10, 2012

(no land grab) Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn

“I’m not going to get into the politics of the Barclays Center; the thing is, it’s up, it’s a reality, and that’s just that.”
Yeah, that is a good point. Really, history shouldn’t be discussed at all because whatever happened is now” a reality and that’s just that.”
Spike Lee has spent a career discussing the politics of both current and historic events. But somehow the politics of the BARCLAYS Center is off limits? Even with the current, very current, scandal in which the bank is embroiled?
C’mon, this can’t be the same Spike Lee who once said, “I think it is very important that films make people look at what they’ve forgotten.”

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On Battle for Brooklyn day, Markowitz, Nets, allies plant tree in Fort Greene Park to promote donations

June 18, 2011

Yesterday, as the film Battle for Brooklyn opened commercially to widespread positive reviews, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the city of New York were doing their best to promote the Nets, the Barclays Center, and the salubrious effect of the team’s move in 2012.

The event: a tree donation, and a photo op, with associated advertising for the team, the arena, and a lawn care company. (There was no mention of how Forest City Ratner tried to evade paying for street trees it demolished.)
The media event drew coverage from the New York Post’s Brooklyn blog and NY 1. via Atlantic Yards Report

is anyone really buying this Green crap? the government is taking private land for a sports team.

"Gray Lady Down," a debate on the Times, and an AY mention

March 21, 2011


photo

Atlantic Yards Report

Having read William McGowan’s book Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of The New York Times Means for America, I knew it does not address such relatively local issues at Atlantic Yards (built by the Times Company’s business partner on the Times Tower, Forest City Ratner), but instead more ideological issues such as gay marriage, immigration, the Duke “rape” case, and the war on terror. 
So McGowan didn’t bring up Atlantic Yards during a debate last month with Michael Tomasky, American editor-at-large for the Guardian, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. (Tomasky’s main point was that the allegedly halcyon days of the past featured flawed coverage, especially in scope, of a different stripe.)

I think the issue is somewhat murky. I have no doubt that the editorial page is committed, by virtue of the “spirit of the Times” (aka Sulzberger), to supporting Atlantic Yards, or, at least, keeping its mouth shut about dismaying details.
Is the Metro desk in the tank? I don’t think so–and I can’t let myself think so. But the Times has done, on the whole, a lousy job covering Atlantic Yards.
Editors make choices, and the Times has chosen to put far less energy into looking carefully at Atlantic Yards than at a number of other issues. Meanwhile, the Sports section laps up Nets publicity.

link

“Lifeforce” 1985 International one sheet image via doppelganger
and via
thatsmyface.com

world’s tallest prefab steel structure for first affordable tower

March 20, 2011

Critic Lange: Maybe Gehry’s design was kinda modular, too…

Atlantic Yards Report:

…In Bad Faith Towers, Design Observer’s Alexandra Lange makes the connection between the Times’s graphic, for illustrative purposes, of a pre-fabricated, modular tower that might be built at the Atlantic Yards site, and a Frank Gehry rendering of the arena block, which looks pretty darn modular.

She writes:

Are we so desperate for affordable housing (again, the recession changes everything) that we will take a chance on untested building technology? Who gets to be the guinea pig on the 34th floor? Surely Forest City Ratner did not want this news out the week of the Japanese quake.

…Surely Ratner will tart up the prefab units with some cast concrete lintels and blown-up brownstone details, and call them contextual. But the truth is, the Times rendering is not so far from the boxy stacks Gehry proposed after the billowing Miss Brooklyn proved too costly. As with the disappointing 8 Spruce Street, there’s a thin value engineered line between industrial production and genius.

link

Big savings, but promised Union jobs, tax revenues lost, and new risks at Brooklyn Atlantic Yards… The problem here is this government intervening project was supposed to create jobs, but cost cuts save the project without creating the promised jobs. This is why you don’t want the government taking private property away!

In what seems to be a desperate–or maybe innovative–effort to save money and time, Forest City Ratner may build the world’s tallest modular structure to deliver the affordable housing long promised as an Atlantic Yards benefit.

In doing so, however, FCR would establish its own factory to manufacture the components, severely cutting expected on-site union jobs, and presumably cutting deeply into projected tax revenues, thus upending the always optimistic estimates of project benefits.

FCR’s Lego-like solution would severely antagonize union construction workers who, fulfilling requests by the developer and their own leadership, fervently and sometimes obnoxiously backed the project at rallies and public hearings.
And the bait-and-switch would continue a pattern of renegotiating contracts in order to save money.
For example, FCR in 2005 bid $100 million in cash for the rights to build on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard, only to renegotiate the contract in 2009, paying only $20 million out of the $100 million pledged, with 22 years to pay the rest.
Also, in building a 34-story tower at first, FCR would take risks by venturing into a construction technology that is still developing, the current record-holder only rises 25 stories..
A scoop for the Times
Charles Bagli of the New York Times, who has paid intermittent attention to the project but is a go-to guy for scoops, has the story, headlined Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards:

In a bid to cut costs at his star-crossed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, the developer Bruce C. Ratner is pursuing plans to erect the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure, a 34-story tower that would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site.
The prefabricated, or modular, method he would use, which is untested at that height, could cut construction costs in half by saving time and requiring substantially fewer and cheaper workers. And the large number of buildings planned for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards — 16 in all, not including the Nets arena now under construction — could also make it economical for the company to run its own modular factory, where walls, ceilings, floors, plumbing and even bathrooms and kitchens could be installed in prefabricated steel-frame boxes.
The 34-story building, with roughly 400 apartments, would comprise more than 900 modules that would be hauled to Atlantic Yards, lifted into place by crane and bolted together at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, next to the arena.

The current record-holder


The tallest modular building in the world, according to a 9/2/09 article in Building Design and Construction, is Victoria Hall, a 25-story apartment tower in Wolverhampton, England. A 9/21/09 article in National Real Estate Investor (source of the photo) calls it 24 stories.
Note the prefab appearance. Does Forest City Ratner’s claim that buzzy firm SHoP will design the building apply to the modular units? Or, more likely, would SHoP merely graft a “skin” on the building, as with the Ellerbe Becket arena?
Some flaws
The Times suggests that tall modular buildings require significant bracing, but modular buildings can have their flaws. A 3/26/08 Times article describes a modular building at Yale University that was built in 2004:

“They tried to blend in the appearance of the building with what’s here already,” said Martin Dominguez, a first-year medical student who was also an undergraduate at Yale and has lived in the modular building for 18 months. “They did a reasonably good job, though the building obviously looks pretty modern relative to the other architecture.”
Mr. Dominguez said he was not happy with the quality of the dormitory’s construction — some of the walls do not quite fit together and the floor is uneven in the bathroom, he said.

However, the Times reported, campus housing administrators at another college were impressed with the work and decided to go the modular route.
The benefits of modular
The Modular Building Institute, a trade group, explains that Modular Delivers More than Speed to Completion:

Commercial modular buildings are cutting-edge facilities of the highest quality, efficiency, endurance, and design: cost-effective permanent and temporary buildings that respond to ever-changing demands…
Today, multi-story, multi-unit buildings can be constructed in a factory from steel and concrete. The units, shipped to the site either on a flatbed trailer or on their own axles and tires, are craned into place and joined on site. Once completed, these high-end, factory-built buildings are indistinguishable from site-built construction. There generally are no visual or structural differences whatsoever….
The advantages of modular construction remain the same, however. Commercial modular structures are built in a climate- and quality-controlled environment, where savings of as much as 50% in overall construction time are not uncommon.

Ratner savings, union tensions
The Times reported that Forest City has been designing both a conventional tower and a modular one, and is looking for sites in Long Island City for a factory:

“The company is interested in modular, high-rise construction in an urban setting,” [FCR’s] Ms. [Maryanne] Gilmartin said. “It’s driven by cost and efficiencies.”
But it would also infuriate the construction workers who were Mr. Ratner’s most ardent supporters during years of stormy community meetings, where they drowned out neighborhood opponents with chants of, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The Times notes that Forest City promised Atlantic Yards would generate “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs.” Actually, that’s job-years, so 1700 jobs a year over ten years or, more likely, many fewer jobs a year over a much longer period of time, perhaps 25 years.
The Times reports:

Not to worry, Ms. Gilmartin said, “We’re a union shop, and we build union.”
But under current wage scales, union workers earn less in a factory than they do on-site. A carpenter earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits on-site, but only $35 an hour in a factory.

Need for a cost-benefit analysis
Gilmartin should be asked to estimate the actual number of expected jobs, as well as the total in wages. Or the Empire State Development Corporation should do so.
Such numbers should be plugged into the cost-benefit analyses conducted by the city, state, and Independent Budget Office.
Forest City is clearly under pressure to fulfill its obligations and make its expected profits. City officials denied a request for $10 million in additional housing subsidies.
Going to 34 stories?
A firm located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Capsys, states that its system is good for 12 stories:

Our system of structural steel framing, concrete floors, and steel-framed walls is ideal for projects as high as 12 stories. Our in-house engineering group is capable of designing modular structures that fit the floor plan of almost any residential building.

Those quoted by the Times say taller buildings are possible, but pose challenges:

“At a smaller scale, prefab buildings have proven to be more efficient, more sustainable and less expensive,” said Thomas Hanrahan, dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture. “The taller the building, the logistical and structural issues become much more complex.”

Keeping the arena block quieter
Unmentioned in the Times: prefab construction would clearly make it easier to build towers around the arena while conducting arena activities.
After all, cranes would be at the site for less time, and fewer workers would be at the site, as well.

Developer Bruce Ratner recently revealed the latest design for his proposed new Nets basketball arena in Prospect Heights, part of a controversial project that also includes 16 residential and office towers. The third version of the 675,000-square-foot Atlantic Yards arena was created by local SHoP Architects and Kansas City-based Ellerbe Becket.

The Brooklyn development project has restored some of the ideas of Frank Gehry, the original designer. Earlier this summer he was replaced with Ellerbe Becket, whose preliminary designs elicited howls of protest.

According to the associated press, the price for the project is 800 million USD, reduced from an earlier estimate of 1 billion USD.
To defer additional costs, Mr. Ratner has divided up the design. ‘The arena will be built first, and then,’ he says, ‘the foundations for the residential and commercial buildings will be dug, once he is ready to start the next stage of construction.’


In Mr. Gehry’s original design, all of the structures were conceived as part of a single cohesive scheme.

For further information read the New York Times article here.
via archicentral.com


Columbia U. vs. the little guy

December 17, 2010
Bollinger: Rich bully is getting his way.
Bollinger: Rich bully is getting his way.

We often hear politicians and pundits denounce property rights. Property rights, we’re told, protect the fat cats against the needs of the public. They’re a tool for keeping the little guy down.

Like a lot of what we hear from politicians and pundits, this is exactly the opposite of the truth. The fat cats don’t need the protection of property rights, because they already control the political system. It’s the little guy (or gal), the one without political juice, who needs strong property rights for protection from the fat cats and the politicians they control.

We often hear politicians and pundits denounce property rights. Property rights, we’re told, protect the fat cats against the needs of the public. They’re a tool for keeping the little guy down.
Like a lot of what we hear from politicians and pundits, this is exactly the opposite of the truth. The fat cats don’t need the protection of property rights, because they already control the political system. It’s the little guy (or gal), the one without political juice, who needs strong property rights for protection from the fat cats and the politicians they control.

This was demonstrated again this week, as the last legal barrier (a possible US Supreme Court review) to Columbia University’s efforts to condemn and seize two businesses — Tuck-it-Away Self-Storage and a gas station owned by Gurnam Singh and Parminder Kaur in West Harlem — vanished.
Columbia said the condemnation was necessary to support the university’s “vision” for a new campus; school President Lee Bollinger called the victory “a very important moment in the history of the university.”
It was an important, if not especially proud, moment for Columbia — but it was surely a bigger moment in the lives of those West Harlem business owners, as their property gets taken away to promote the “vision” of what is, in fact, a multibillion-dollar corporation servicing the daughters and sons of the wealthy, the powerful and the connected.
Traditionally, the “public-domain” power was used to acquire property needed for things like roads and bridges. It’s still often defended in those terms, but the “public use” required for such takings has now been interpreted by courts to include pretty much anything the government wants to do with the property — including handing it over to someone else who just happens to be wealthier or better-connected than the original property holder.

In this case, the government lacks even the weak excuse that the change will boost tax revenues, since — as Megan McArdle of The Atlantic Monthly pointed out — the property is being transferred from taxpaying businesses to a largely non-taxpaying enterprise.
Part of the American Dream was the expectation that if you started a business, you might go broke but you didn’t have to worry about the government seizing your business on behalf of those with more political juice. That sort of thing was for Third World countries, corrupt kleptocracies where connections mattered more than capability.
Not anymore. In fact, some of those formerly corrupt Third World countries have started providing stronger protection for private property, as they’ve realized that the more power you give to politicians and their cronies, the less incentive people have to try to succeed through hard work. What’s the point, if you’re at the mercy of the cronies?

if you really look at this right.  this is what is happening to America as a whole.  small banks can’t compete against government banks that can’t fail 


Green Design looks like an Eminent Domain Shit Sandwich – SHoP Architects Alters Design For Barclays Center

October 1, 2010

 cough cough cough…. sure

barclays center plaza, barclays center, atlantic yards, green roof, shop architects, brooklyn, new york city
The Plaza in front of the Barclays Center for Atlantic Yards is located at the busy intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, and it will serve as the main entrance to the arena. When designing the plaza, SHoP’s main focus was on creating a smooth, flowing area centered around transit and pedestrian traffic. The roof of the subway entrance will feature Sedum plantings that will compliment several other planters spread throughout the plaza. Seating around the plaza and planters will be made from Ipe wood.In addition to the green roof subway entrance, the updated plaza will feature a large covered area at the entrance of the arena with a giant oculus (read: hole in the roof), which will include a state-of-the-art display screen that can be programmed for games, events and other activities on the plaza.

I thought they were designing it for the Jolly Green Giant to light his farts on fire

Currently, there is a lot of debate and contention regarding Atlantic Yards and the Barclays Center, and a small green roof and transit-oriented design don’t do a whole lot to reduce the footprint of the massive development. Is it a peace offering or a necessity to make the space work? In other news, that affordable housing the developers promised is supposedly not gonna happen.
+ Barclays Center
+ SHoP Architects
Via Gothamist

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz could be headed to China to help developer Bruce Ratner trade green cards for cash for his Atlantic Yards project, our Erin Durkin reports:

tiny markowitz hat.jpg

Markowitz is waiting for the OK from the city Conflicts of Interest Board to accompany Ratner’s delegation on the trip, which kicks off Oct. 11.
The New York City Regional Center invited Markowitz on the trip and would pick up the tab, his spokeswoman said.
It’s part of the EB-5 visa program, which offers up green cards to foreigners who invest $500,000 in a project that creates or saves at least 10 jobs.
The federal government sets aside 3000 a year for such deep-pocketed investors.
Ratner is looking to lure 498 Chinese investors for a total of $250 million in financing for the new Nets arena and 16 tower project. The money could go to pay off land loans or build the new railyard that Ratner has to put up for the Long Island Rail Road.
Markowitz spokeswoman Laura Sinagra said: “Part of his role is to encourage investment in Brooklyn, and this program is designed to bring investors to the table for projects that create jobs. As the person who came up with the original idea of bringing major league sports back to Brooklyn and one of the biggest supporters of Atlantic Yards, he obviously believes this project is worthy of investment, and is seeking guidance from the Conflicts of Interest Board on the possibility of accompanying the group.”

The trip was first reported by prolific Atlantic Yards blogger Norman Oder, who has questioned whether raking in Chinese cash for the project, already under construction, should really count as creating or saving jobs.

Daniel Goldstein to tell you why this sucks:

Today the developer unveiled designs for an outdoor “public plaza” where the tower and atrium structure were promised, and told reporters at a press conference that his firm has no plans to build 15 of the 16 towers he promised to build, which would include nearly all of the “affordable” housing Ratner used to sell his plans to Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson and a long list of other politicians.
“Ratner’s not-so-pretty drawings of a barricaded, exhaust-enveloped plaza—including the absurd rendered fantasy of a traffic-less Atlantic and Flatbush intersection—is not the Atlantic Yards news of the day. The news of day, which is not surprising but is very troubling, is that Bruce Ratner admitted that he has no plans whatsoever to build the affordable housing he promised or the office tower he promised. It is crystal clear that Atlantic Yards is nothing but a scam, a money-losing arena, surrounded by massive parking lots, in the middle of a housing and unemployment crisis,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn co-founder Daniel Goldstein.

I can’t see any reason why any organization would want to hold an event here…much less outdoors trapped between the exhaust of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Rarely have I seen a less impressive design and a worse use of Eminent Domain. It is also alarming what measure government is claiming creates jobs or removes urban blight. I see little cohesion with any community whatsoever.

Obama and the NETS Mikhail Prokhorov want your property

July 3, 2010

Wall Street Journal

LeBron James has reportedly been apartment hunting in Manhattan. But for the city’s real estate brokers, there may be a bigger client on the market.

As The Journal’s Craig Karmin reports, New York real estate brokers are drooling over the prospect of showing palatial pads to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, 45, the owner of the New Jersey Nets.

The Russian billionaire has made his presence known in Brooklyn as well–albeit in a different way. His firm invested $200 million in the Atlantic Yards development project, which includes the stadium the Nets expect to call home in 2012.

link

anything to keep the masses happy… even stealing property

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