Former Dwell Editor in Chief and “Prefab” author Allison Arieff believes prefab housing may finally realize its long-elusive promise of cheaper, better homes thanks to four big projects going up in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the City. The first is, of course, B2, the Atlantic Yards tower designed by SHoP Architects that, at 32 stories, will be the tallest prefab tower in the world when constructed. “In contrast to regular old housing construction, which happens pretty much the same way it has for decades, if not a century, prefab has long been promising better design and innovation and — the key to its intrigue — a more affordable path to good architecture,” she wrote. And: “Prefab is best utilized in the design and construction not of single-family homes but of multifamily housing.” Architect designed homes make up only 5 to 7 percent of houses in the U.S. but “multifamily opens the door for those numbers to increase.” The architect and principal of Resolution: 4, Joseph Tanney, said, “The residential modular industry is salivating at the prospect of building more multifamily projects. It’s a natural extension to think in terms of aggregation of the modules into higher density patterns, both architecturally and economically. I don’t think that they are just now discovering prefab for multifamily. It’s just taking time for it to evolve into a higher level of design.” Do you think the prefab construction at Atlantic Yards will cut construction costs and pass on savings to the public in the form of better design than conventional methods?
Prefab Lives! [NY Times]
Rendering of B2 by SHoP Architects
Barclays has its own “signature scent,” DNAinfo reported, and it’s not popcorn. An unnamed source said “it’s the work of ScentAir, a company that manufactures custom fragrances pumped into the air at theme parks, stores and hotels around the world. The odors function like mood music for your nose. They’re meant to enhance the consumer experience and build brand identities.” Barclays visitors variously described the scent as “weird, musky, cologne-y,” ”clean-smelling,” and with “citrus notes.” One said he “assumed the scent was Jay-Z’s Rocawear cologne.” Another tweeted the “whole place smells like a Calvin Klein store.” Seems like a strange choice of scent for such a rugged, industrial-style building, said another. Have you noticed anything funny in the air?
Barclays Center’s “Signature Scent” Tickles Noses, Curiosity [DNAinfo]
Yesterday MTV announced that it would bring the 2013 MTV Music Video Awards to the Barclays Center. The 30th year of the program, which is usually hosted in Manhattan or L.A., will hit Brooklyn on August 25, according to The New York Times. The Times mentions that ratings from previous shows have been down and that “the show could use a little razzle-dazzle.” MTV has yet to announce a host for the award ceremony, but they put Jay-Z’s name in the running.
MTV Video Music Awards Show Coming to Brooklyn [NY Times Arts Beat]
We had thought the defective bolts holding together the Barclays facade were all fixed, but now it turns out that’s not true. A delayed report on construction progress on Atlantic Yards indicates they were still in place in January, the Atlantic Yards Report revealed. Are they still there now? We don’t know, but we and at least one reader have seen workers on the roof of Barclays doing something in the last few weeks. We hope Barclays can get this matter taken care of quickly, for public safety.
Delayed Report: Defective Bolts Still in Place in January [AYR]
Structural Weakness at Barclays Revealed, Fixed [Brownstoner]
Yesterday The New York Times took a look at the Barclays Center five months after opening and finds that overall it has not had the negative impact on the neighborhood that many had feared. According to the story, most visitors arrive and leave relatively quickly and many do use public transportation: the four subway stations in the area had an average of 6,400 more riders on event nights than on other nights. The Long Island Rail Road reports that 3,300 more riders arrive and depart through Atlantic Terminal on event nights than before the arena opened. Crime has also not been a problem though more than a million people have attended the 93 events there since it opened. The 78th Precinct registered six “felony episodes” that were connected to the arena and 36 misdemeanors. While the story does acknowledge issues with parking, illegally parked limos, noise complaints, the fine for exceeding noise limits and the trees soon to fall on Pacific Street, it finds that overall the arena has hardly been the harbinger of doom many predicted. What do you think? Is the arena a good neighbor?
Smooth Debut for an Arena That Rocked Brooklyn [NY Times]
Residents Unhappy With Tree Removal Near Barclays [Brownstoner]
Barclays Center Fined for Noise Violations [Brownstoner]
Bars Near Barclays Center Booming, Others Not So Much [Brownstoner]
Photo by Kuyata
Community Board Two and the Empire State Development Corporation sent out a notice, and the above map, about traffic changes now in effect around the Atlantic Yards construction site. Those changes include the following: Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues) will be converted from two-way to a one-way heading west. Vehicles will be able to access this block from both northbound and southbound Carlton Avenue. The north sidewalk on Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues only) will be closed to pedestrian traffic. Sidewalks on the south side of this block will remain open. Finally, parking along the north side of Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues only) will be prohibited. These changes will be in place for eight months.
Residents living near the Barclays Center are concerned about the plan to remove 20 street trees next week on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues to facilitate construction at Atlantic Yards. This also includes removal of the street tree bed guards which were paid for by the developer of the condo building at 700 Pacific Street. Forest City Ratner has not told residents when and if the trees will be replaced, which has caused frustration with nearby neighbors. At a recent Quality of Life meeting hosted by the Empire State Development Corporation, the Parks Department — which issued the permits to cut down the trees — did not show up.
According to the tipster, “the removal of these street trees is added to the elimination of street trees along 6th Avenue due to construction, (still not restored), and the recent removal of newly planted trees around Barclays Center because of pedestrian safety issues.” Atlantic Yards Watch also tackled the issue today and bemoans the lack of green space or amenities provided so far by Forest City Ratner: “This reduction in permanent street trees, combined with the elimination of the private green arena roof and extended construction schedule means residents of the arena block will wait longer for fewer ‘green’ amenities than planned in 2006 when the project was approved.”
Big news, burger lovers: Grub Street is reporting that Shake Shack, the popular Danny Meyer fast food chain, is planning to open its second Brooklyn location at 170 Flatbush Avenue, just steps from the Barclays Arena. “Our second Brooklyn location will be directly across from the Barclays Center and plant us firmly within walking distance of several neighborhoods from Park Slope to Fort Greene,” said Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO, in a press release printed in full below. “New York City is our hometown, and the Shack will be the place where New Yorkers can come together to celebrate the best of Brooklyn’s thriving culture, sports and entertainment.” Any guesses what rent they are paying? In other news, the last Blockbuster in Brooklyn is closing. GMAP
During an October 27th show at the Barclays Center, “Sensation,” a group of Dutch dance and techno-music DJs were so loud that they violated city noise regulations inside apartments at the Newswalk condos more than a block away. A city Department of Environmental Protection inspector found that sound inside an apartment hit 74 decibels, far above the legal limit of 62. Forest City Ratner was issued a $3,200 fine. However it was dismissed because the summons should have been written to the subsidiary that runs the arena. A new ticket has been issued and a hearing is scheduled for April. One Newswalk resident told the New York Post, “It was so loud that night that I had my headphones on watching TV — and I could still feel the vibration and hear the noise from the show.” The city also tested for noise during the Jay-Z and Justin Bieber shows but found no violations. That wasn’t surprising to the Newswalk resident who said that the city tested the noise levels for both concerts when no one was performing. Atlantic Yards Watch has compiled a map of noise complaints that stretch a block or more in nearly every direction from the arena. You can also read Atlantic Yards Report’s comprehensive coverage of noise issues here and more about Sensation here. Any readers being kept up late by thumping bass from the arena?
Tonight the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee is hosting a meeting to discuss quality of life issues for residents and businesses in proximity to Barclays Center. Although the meeting is open to the public, only “invited representatives” will be allowed to comment (the meeting’s sponsored by Empire State Development Corporation). One of the issues that will be discussed are the 20 street trees lost on Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues for construction of the LIRR railyard. No date has been provided for the trees to be replanted. The meeting’s at 6:30 pm at Brooklyn Borrough Hall. Check out all the details here.
Photo by atlanticyardswebcam
Over the weekend the Daily News took a look at how businesses around the Barclays center are faring since the arena opened this fall. They found that bars, some more than a mile from the arena are seeing a significant boost in income from fans stopping by before the game. The co-manager of Brooklyn Tap House on Myrtle and Classon in Clinton Hill, two miles away, told the News, “we get the pre-game crowd. We aren’t even in walking distance.” Some restaurants are also seeing increased business, but only for concerts. But many more businesses are feeling left out in the cold, like the owner of Cake Ambiance on Dean Street: “People don’t know about the area. They don’t walk around, and the train is right there. There are bakeries in there. Junior’s is in there. Starbucks is in there. There is this thing about [Barclays] helping the locals – that’s dream land.” Villanova University sports sociologist Rick Eckstein who co-wrote Public Dollars, Private Stadiums, says that these early spending trends are likely to influence the future of the neighborhoods around the arena: “You have to play to the crowd. When you have thousands of people coming in, you give them something to drink, not a hardware store. My guess is the corner stores and mom-and-pop shops won’t be around in a few years.” Have you noticed any changes in the kinds of businesses prospering around the arena?
Big Bucks off Barclays? Bars Happy, Clothing Shops Frustrated [NY Daily News]
NY Mag: Is Barclays Center a Success? [Brownstoner]
NYT Reviews Barclays Center and Its Context [Brownstoner]
A vacant, three-story brownstone with a commercial space on the ground floor at 75 St. Marks Avenue, just three blocks from the Barclays Center, sold for $1,640,000 earlier this month. The 3,270 square-foot building last changed hands only months ago in September of 2012 for $965,000. That’s a whopping 70 percent increase in just four months. From the outside it doesn’t appear that the new owners did much, if anything, to improve the property that would warrant such a massive increase in value. The listing indicated that the apartments needed a gut renovation and there are no new permits pulled with the buildings department. It’s possible that the sellers got a very good deal when they bought last year–they did purchase it from the estate of the previous owner who had held onto the property since 1970. When the home was on the market in 2011, it had the asking price cut from $1,650,000 to $1,350,000 without any luck in moving the property. The broker, Ofer Cohen, founder of TerraCRG says, “this sale is an example of the tremendous growth and transformation that the area surrounding the Barclays Center has seen and its effect on the immediate neighborhood. Properties in this area especially with retail spaces are gaining considerable notice from investors who are willing to pay a premium for the location.” What do you think? Has the arena really boosted the value of commercial properties, or is this an outlier?
Price Cut on Prospect Heights Mixed Use [BK to the Fullest] GMAP P*Shark
According to an article in Crain’s yesterday, Bruce Ratner is stepping aside as CEO of Forest City Ratner but will remain as chairman. It is unclear why the 68 year-old developer is making the change. He is expected to continue working at the company but to be less involved in the day-to-day operations. MaryAnne Gilmartin, who became executive vice president at Forest City in 2007, will take over as CEO. She started with the firm in 1994 and previously worked for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. The timing of the change is unknown, but a source told Crain’s it will be, “sooner rather than later, likely in the next few months.” Ratner came to New York in the 1960s to go to law school at Columbia University and worked in both the Lindsay and Koch administrations before starting his development firm. He not only became the borough’s, and perhaps the city’s, most controversial developer with the massive Atlantic Yards development, but also attempted to lure large corporate tenants to the borough with his MetroTech Center office complex and created a home for suburban mainstays like Chuck E. Cheese and Target in his Atlantic Center Mall.
Photo by atlanticyardswebcam02
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has proposed a Business Improvement District, or BID, to encompass the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Cultural District, and the commercial strips of Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues. A press release said that a steering committee of local stakeholders has already been formed to spearhead the effort and determine needed BID services. As The New York Post noted, the future BID must go through public hearings and approvals by Community Boards Two, Six and Eight, not to mention the City Planning Commission and New York City Council. The process will last through all of 2013. Atlantic Yards Report expects that “Forest City likely would be the BID heavyweight,” and notes that the creation of the BID would extend the reach of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership as far as Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. This BID would join the already existing North Flatbush Avenue BID and the Fulton Street BID in the immediate area. The BID would bring in revenue from local commercial property owners for additional security and sanitation, among other improvements.
BID Eyed to Spur Economy Near Barclays Center, BAM Cultural District [NY Post]
Boosting Barclays? Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Proposes BID [AYR]
Map via Atlantic Yards Report
Students in Columbia’s fall Architecture and Urban Design studio picked 12 areas in Brooklyn to explore how the borough can become a “learning city,” adaptable to change, Curbed reported. Spots included Bay Ridge, Atlantic Avenue, East New York and Gowanus. The course asked “Does a city/region learn to better manage its resources? Can a city learn how and where to grow? What are the ways in which a city or region can acquire learning skills, as opposed to reaching a static condition of being ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’?” A site analysis of Atlantic Avenue from Barclays Center to Broadway Junction found it was on the decline and under-used, with low real estate values and high rates of poverty and childhood obesity and other problems. Recommendations included adaptive reuse and mixed income programming in East New York, with investment there equal in size to the investment made at its city-core counterpart at the other end of Atlantic Avenue: Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards. Click here to see the 12 proposals.
Image from presentation “Spatial Mixology”
Today at 11 am, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Bruce Ratner and others will break ground on the first residential tower at Atlantic Yards. One of the building’s 930 modules will be on display today, according to Atlantic Yards Report. (The modules are fabricated at the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard; the 15 planned modular builds on the Atlantic Yards site will be the tallest modular buildings in the world.) You can see a picture of the modular unit on display over at The Observer. From this point on, construction of the first tower is expected to take 18 months with an expected occupancy in the summer of 2014. As revealed in late November, fifty percent of the building, or 181 units, will be affordable and all of the units will be rent stabilized.
Questions for the Modular Press Conference [Atlantic Yards]
Renderings by SHoP and ARUP via AYR
At least seven of the construction companies that worked on Atlantic Yards are on New York City’s caution list, DNAinfo found in an analysis of public records. Two are banned from contracting with the City’s School Construction Authority. Private developers are not required to check the list before hiring. None of the firms landed on the list for work performed on Atlantic Yards. But four were already on the list while working there, the story said. Above, Barclays Center under construction in August.
Shady Firms Flagged by City Helped Build Barclays [DNAinfo]
At a public meeting yesterday, Forest City Ratner revealed details on affordable housing and modular construction for the first Atlantic Yards tower, which will break ground in December, said the Atlantic Yards Report. AYR posted the report attendees received in its entirety, so you can read all about it online here. The 32-floor building, known as B2, will include free market, low income and medium income rentals. Applications will be available in January of 2014. Fifty percent of the building, or 181 units, will be affordable. In the low-income category, monthly rents will range from $494 for a studio to $835 for a two-bedroom. For those of middle income, rents will range from $939 for a studio to $2,740 for a two bedroom. Income requirements for all the affordable units range from a low of $17,430 for one person in the low-income category to $132,800 for a family of four in the moderate group. The entire building will be rent stabilized. The report doesn’t say much about the design, but it does have lots of pictures of the exteriors and interiors. Above, a rendering of B2 on the far left, behind Barclays Center. (more…)
Forest City Ratner will break ground Dec. 18 for the first of 15 residential and office towers planned as part of the controversial Atlantic Yards complex, at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, The New York Times reported. The company plans to use modular construction for all 15 towers, and has been testing the prefab engineering for months at the Navy Yard. If it works, the 32-story tower will be the tallest prefab building in the world. That record is currently held by a 25-story dormitory in Britain. It is unusual for prefab structures to go higher than 10 stories, since the cost of steel bracing against wind and quakes is prohibitive. The modular process could cut the number of construction workers employed by the project by more than 50 percent, estimated Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report.
At Atlantic Yards, Ready to Test Plans for Pre-Fab Tower [NY Times]
Forest City Ready to Test Construction; Times Doesn’t Point out Jobs Likely Cut 50 Percent [AYR]
SHoP Confirms Modular Design for Atlantic Yards Tower [Brownstoner]
Rendering by SHoP via Architect’s Newspaper
Where are they now? That’s the question The New York Times asked of opponents to the Atlantic Yards development and Barclays Center. The latter is now built and widely considered a success, although questions linger about future phases of the project, the lack of promised jobs, affordable housing, the use of eminent domain, public giveaways, and the process. Candace Carponter, the real estate lawyer who headed up the legal team for community group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, said the process had made her cynical. Would she ever go to the arena? “Never,” she said. “I will always hate it. I will always know what it stands for — everything that’s wrong about government.”
Opponents of Atlantic Yards Are Exhausted by a Long, Losing Battle [NY Times]
Times Neglects to Cite Court Win, Other News Validating Critique [AYR]