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We didn’t cover the Community Board 6 liquor license meeting yesterday in the flesh, but other outlets are reporting that the board’s committee on such matters approved the license for Barclays Center and then gave a thumbs-down to Kemistry Lounge, a nearby bar. With reference to the Barclays application, Atlantic Yards Report notes that “the applicant, Levy Premium Foodservice and Brooklyn Events Center, must set up a community liaison and also make sure the arena moves ahead with security, sanitation, transportation plans, there’s essentially no roadblock–not that it was assumed that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) would deny the application.” The application had previously been approved by Community Board 2, and no public comments were taken on the matter. Meanwhile, the hot-button issue of the night was Kemistry Lounge’s second appearance before the board requesting approval for a license that would involve constructing a proposed nightclub on Flatbush and Prospect Place. Park Slope Patch reports that the committee unanimously voted to deny the application, with two abstentions. Here is what Patch has to say about it: “Kemistry Lounge at 260 Flatbush Avenue, which is not open and still under construction, is located between Prospect Place and St Marks Avenue and plans to be a 225-person upscale lounge with bottle service at tables, a private party room with a dance floor in the basement and live music and DJs. But the aspect that disturbed the residents of Prospect Place the most was the fact that the establishment runs from Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Place and has three large plate glass windows and an exit on to the residential street. The vote on whether to recommend that the State Liquor Authority grants Kemistry Lounge a liquor license or not came at the end of a heated public comment period where about 50 Prospect Place residents, unified under the moniker Prospect Place Neighbors, voiced their belief that their residential street is not the right location for a ‘nightclub.'” Patch reports that one resident voiced objections on the grounds that it would be the biggest nightclub in central Brooklyn (capacity: 225) and only the second with bottle service. Evidently the community board committee made a motion to approve the application if the owner was willing to close down at midnight on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends, but one of its co-owners said that would make the business unsustainable. It’s possible, of course, that the State Liquor Authority will still approve the club’s request despite the community board’s vote. Atlantic Yards Report has more quotes and video on the Kemistry discussion in a separate post.
Community Board 6 Committee Supports Arena Liquor License with Stipulations [AY Report]
Community Board 6 Rejects Kemistry Lounge’s Liquor License Application [Park Slope Patch]
Community Board 6 Committee Disapproves Kemistry Lounge Liquor License Application [AY Report]
Rendering of one of the Barclays Center’s clubs

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A story in the Times today looks at the extent to which the blocks surrounding Atlantic Yards are in the midst of a retail transformation directly linked to the fall opening of the Barclays Center arena. While rents are no doubt going up nearby, we’re not sure we’re buying the basic premise of the story: “‘The neighborhood is now becoming an entertainment mecca — anything that’s hip and of the moment,’ said Robert Schulman, who fits prosthetic devices for Allied Orthopedics, which has been on Flatbush Avenue for 25 years. ‘The change was slowly growing, but once the arena came into play, it was exponential. Once a week, a new restaurant or clothing store is opening up.'” Yes, there have been many openings near the arena, but the story’s angle is that it’s changing the face of the surrounding neighborhoods so that old-time mom-and-pops like hardware stores are losing out to retailers that can afford higher rents. However, as the article notes, the Prospect Heights and Park Slope blocks very near the coming arena have been changing for several years now, and not in a mega-retailer sort of way: Witness Pintchick Row on Bergen Street off Flatbush, a block that now boasts Bark, Ricky’s, a vegetarian cafe, a bicycle shop, a comic book store and a yoga shop. All have opened in the past five or so years and it seems like a stretch to say they’ve hurt quality of life in the area. At the same time, the story points out what is perhaps of bigger concern to nearby residents: New, loud bars and noisy arena-goers ruining evenings on nearby residential streets when events let out. Here’s the kicker, from a small business owner near Barclays: “‘As a businessman it’s good. …As a resident not so much. It turns a neighborhood into Midtown Manhattan.'” Certainly the neighbors of the arena have legitimate quality-of-life concerns, but we’re not seeing MSG-level horror yet, though time will tell. Atlantic Yards Report has an extensive critique of the article up, including a note that there was a mis-characterization of people at a recent liquor license hearing as “die-hard opponents” of Barclays Center.
Impact of Atlantic Yards, for Good or Ill, Is Already Felt [NY Times]
Times Focuses on Retail Changes Near Arena Site [AY Report]
Photo by schmuela

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Last night Community Boards 2 and 6 held a joint meeting concerning the impending liquor license application for the Barclays Center. Representatives from Levy Restaurants, the company that will run all concessions, explained the details of the liquor and food service to come, but concerned residents were more interested in the quality-of-life issues affected by said liquor license. It seemed the applicants were less prepared to answer questions about Barclays’ future involvement in the surrounding community, a topic brought up by many speakers. As for details on the license, there will be 57 different points of sale for alcohol at the arena and “hawkers,” who will sell food and beverages throughout the stands. (Typically major sports venues hire one hawker per 300 people.) The events are expected to end around 11:30pm, with alcohol service ceasing one hour before an event’s end. There will also be a wide variety of food selection, with some offerings “inspired by Brooklyn.” There weren’t any menus to show at the meeting. Reps were also quick to point out the building will provide outside and inside security and will be working with NYPD as well. Meeting with community boards to jump-start local hiring for the arena should begin next month, they said.

When it was time for residents to speak, it was clear there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the arena’s safety and traffic plans. Council Member Tish James (in the video, above) urged the application to be held off since it won’t be in use until September. Other residents asked if the arena might hire a community task force or a cleanup crew to keep tabs on surrounding neighborhoods after events. Residents also expressed concern that Levy Restaurants wasn’t planning on using ID readers to check for fake IDs. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, BAM, and a local business owner spoke in support of the application, noting how much business it will bring to the area.

Despite all the discussion, as one CB6 Member said: “No one is under the illusion that the SLA will deny this liquor license.” So the boards discussed a list of stipulations for the applicants, like clear traffic and security plans, coordination with the police department, and reevaluating the license after one year. Ultimately CB2 approved the liquor license with stipulations and CB6 tabled the application until later this month and asked the applicant to meet with the community in regards to unresolved issues. The motions will move onto the full boards, both of which have meetings tonight. Click through to see more video from last night.

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Tomorrow there will be a public hearing about whether or not Barclays Center should be granted a liquor license, and The Local reports that some in the neighborhood will oppose the license on the grounds that there is still no formal plan that will govern crowd control when patrons exit the venue. For example: “‘It’s premature for them to get community board support for a liquor license when they haven’t even made public any plans for security or crowd control of 18,000 people,’ said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and a Prospect Heights resident. ‘They haven’t shown how they can protect quality of life for the neighbors.'” Barclays Center officials did not respond to requests for comments about the issue to the Local. Atlantic Yards Report has commentary on The Local article, noting that the main question regards the terms of the license, since so little has been revealed by Barclays Center brass about their plans: “The arena encroaches on a residential neighborhood, as the state overrode zoning that requires a 200-foot cordon around a sports facility. Those returning to the interim surface parking lot would walk on sidewalks as narrow as six feet wide. And the arena code of conduct, promised for this spring, is not yet available. Forest City Ratner officials told The Local they wouldn’t comment on the liquor license application until tomorrow night’s meeting, at 6:30 pm at the 78th Police Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, just a block from the arena.” As the Local notes, though, it’s difficult to imagine a major sports venue not getting a liquor license.
Arena Foes Will Fight Barclays Center Booze Permit [The Local]
With no Code of Conduct Yet for Arena, Barclays Center Neighbors Seek Delay on Liquor License [AY Report]

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Today Norman Oder, the journalist/blogger who runs Atlantic Yards Report, has a piece on Streetsblog about “three big unknowns” related to transportation planning in advance of the Barclays Center arena’s opening in September. Those unknowns include that there still hasn’t been an announcement about the official plan to encourage arena-goers to use mass transit even though one was “anticipated” last December but is now expected to be released in May; that developer Forest City Ratner hasn’t said how big the 1,100-space surface lot next to the arena is going to be even though construction on it is supposed to start next month; and that it’s still not clear if the Carlton Avenue Bridge will be complete by the time the arena opens in September. Following up on the Streetsblog post on his own site, Oder digs deeper into the Carlton Avenue bridge question. It boils down to there being a lot of evasion from Forest City and state officials about whether or not the bridge is on schedule to open when the arena does. Here’s the kicker, and how it relates to Atlantic Yards development beyond the arena: “The bridge reconstruction is part of an ‘Arena Opening Condition’ required by the Atlantic Yards Development Agreement. However, failure to meet that condition would result in only the freezing of Forest City Ratner’s rights to move forward on any new residential development. Forest City is, as of last month, not expected to have the first tower started by the arena opening, but presumably it would make opening the bridge an even higher priority. So a delay might not be significant.”
Barclays Center Mysteries: Three Big Unknowns About Arena Transportation [Streetsblog]
Down to the Wire: Carlton Avenue Bridge Could Reopen “Before Asphalt Paved”; State Official Contradicts Consultant’s Report That Bridge is Behind Schedule [AY Report]

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The Times has a story today that looks into how much money commercial property owners near the Barclays Center could stand to make when the arena opens in the fall, and landlords and brokers say it’s very much an unanswered question: “The owners of Triangle Sports, members of the Rosa and Shapiro families, and their broker, Geoffrey Bailey of TerraCRG, have not set a price for the property. Conditions in the area are changing so quickly, Mr. Bailey said, ‘that we prefer to let the market come to us.’ Indeed, among real estate professionals, the mood around the Barclays Center — the only part of the controversial Atlantic Yards project that has come to fruition — could best be described as optimistic uncertainty, as the arena’s opening event, a Jay-Z concert on Sept. 28, approaches.” The story includes fun tidbits like one owner opining that commercial landlords haven’t been letting tenants sign multi-year leases in case they’re able to get much more for their properties in the near future, and a quote from Michael Pintchik, who owns a lot of buildings near the arena, about how “his ground floor retail spaces have recently begun attracting interest from national retailers and Manhattan restaurateurs who, he said, had not considered Brooklyn locations before.” Pintchik also says he hopes to construct a new building nearby that he semi-seriously notes would work for an Apple store! Beyond all that, there are quotes from owners and developers about how the Barclays Center will give the nexus of Fort Greene, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Boerum Hill an identity as a neighborhood in its own right. Meanwhile, a French hotelier is looking to build nearby: “Cyril Aouizerate, the owner of Mama Shelter, a stylish boutique hotel in the outlying 20th Arrondissement of Paris, said he was ’90 percent sure’ he would be opening a Mama Shelter at a site near the arena. Mr. Aouizerate said he had rejected neighborhoods like Williamsburg as ‘too bourgeois-bohème,’ in favor of the less established Boerum Hill area, where he is negotiating with property owners.” (As a side note, this is the first time we’ve ever heard Boerum Hill described as “less established” than Williamsburg, and we have no idea what that means.) All this talk of the potential of commercial real estate property aside, the article ends with a question that surely tie into the flavor of the retail that will be attractive to people in the area in the future: “[The recent sale of a warehouse near the arena] could also indicate that knowledgeable investors do not expect the residential part of the Atlantic Yards project to rise anytime soon. And that means that long after the Nets play their first game in the neighborhood, there will be a large hole in the arena’s backyard.”
In Barclays Center’s Shadow, Awaiting What’s Next [NY Times]

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About a month ago some residents who live near the under-construction Barclays Center voiced opposition to plans to use stack parking at the arena—which will have a state-mandated 1,100-spot parking lot—but the Post is now reporting that the stacking system may not be in the cards: “A top official for the developer building Brooklyn’s Barclays Center said today it’s her ‘mission’ to reduce hundreds of spaces at a parking garage going up next to the NBA Nets’ future home to avoid using controversial stack-parking spaces there. Jane Marshall, an executive vice president at Forest City Ratner, told community leaders and city officials at Borough Hall yesterday that the company “is doing everything we can to avoid it” and the potential traffic problems such a system could bring.” No pro sports venue in the city uses stack parking, and some residents fear the system will cause traffic pileups and delays, not to mention drivers sorting about for more street parking in order to avoid the garage. FCR says it’s studying non-stack options. In other Atlantic Yards news, today AY Report notes that an FCR executive has confirmed the latest delay in the construction of the non-arena portion of the mega-development: Groundbreaking won’t happen until after the arena opens in September. We’ve lost track at this point of how many times the firm has delayed construction of the non-arena towers that will eventually (probably?) rise at the site.
Deck is Stacked Against Stack-Parking Plan for Barclays Center [NY Post]
Construction Won’t Start Until After Arena Opens [AY Report]
Worries Aired About Stack Parking Next to Arena [Brownstoner]
Rendering via Atlantic Yards Watch

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Back in mid-2007, a bagel place on 5th Avenue near the corner of Bergen in Park Slope scrapped the name it was originally going to use, “Arena Bagels,” and went with “A.R.E.A. Bagels” instead. At the time, groundbreaking on the arena was still nearly three years away, and some people in the neighborhood let it be known that they didn’t welcome a business that appeared to take a pro-Atlantic Yards stance. Now, though, another business is taking a page from the same playbook: A restaurant/bar opening on Classon between Fulton and Lefferts has been named My Arena Lounge. Unlike A.R.E.A. Bagels, though, My Arena Lounge is nearly a mile away from the under-construction Barclays Center. Still, we get the feeling this isn’t the last time we’re going to see a far-flung business trying to cash in on the Nets’ impending arrival in Brooklyn.
My Arena Lounge [Official Site] GMAP

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Today the New York Post reports that Atlantic Yards critics commissioned renderings showing it’s impossible for Forest City Ratner to fill the 1,100-spot parking lot mandated by the state next to the Barclays Center without using stacked parking. This doesn’t sit well with some in the area: “The concern, neighborhood residents say, is that hydraulic systems and valet service associated with stack parking slow the entry and exit of cars from the lot, potentially creating bumper-to-bumper traffic on surrounding streets and sending antsy drivers to seek the area’s few remaining curbside spaces.” A rep for Forest City says the developer is “conducting an analysis that we hope will allow” the firm to avoid using stack parking. Atlantic Yards Report takes this “analysis” to mean that Forest City is considering using “a modular system that’s never been tested. And that was discussed more than eight months ago, though no formal plans have never been announced.” The surface-lot block is bounded by Carlton, Vanderbilt, Dean and Pacific; the Post notes that it’s “expected to exist at least a decade” because of the delays with the other Atlantic Yards buildings that have also held up plans for a permanent, underground lot. Meanwhile, Atlantic Yards Watch runs the rendering shown above, depicting how the stack parking could look, and contrasts it with another rendering, reproduced on the jump, that shows how the lot might look if it had to comply with New York City design standards for surface lots. The lot doesn’t have to comply with those standards—which would require landscaping and reduce the number of cars the lot could hold to around 500—because it will be considered temporary, rather than permanent, parking.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn Will Create Parking and Traffic Problems [NY Post]
What if the Barclays Center Parking Lot Was Required to Meet NYC Design Standards? [AY Watch]
The Peril of Car Stackers on the Arena Parking Lot [AY Report]