Posts tagged with "Bruce Ratner":

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Forest City Ratner and SHoP to Revive Aging Nassau Coliseum

The team behind Brooklyn's Barclays Center—Forest City Ratner and SHoP Architects—will join forces again to overhaul the run-down Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island. The developer beat out the competition, Madison Square Garden Co, and took home the prize: the commission to manage and rehabilitate the 41-year old crumbling arena that has been home to the Islanders since the hockey team was first founded in 1972. The Islanders will be moving their franchise to the Barclays Center in 2014. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bruce Ratner expects the entire renovation will cost an estimated $229 million, but will require no public funding. The rent from the arena, along with ticket sales and other deals, will generate roughly $195 million over the period of its 34-year lease. Madison Square Garden, however, projected that they would raise $112 million within the same timeframe. The proposal calls for slashing 5,000 seats from the arena and for a new undulating facade designed to emulate the landscape of Long Island, with visual references to the dunes, beach fencing and boardwalks. Ratner also plans to add a new plaza, theaters, restaurants, and bowling alley, and outdoor concert venue to the 77-acre site.
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Atlantic Yards Could Be Considered Part of Downtown Brooklyn

The area around the Barclays Center, stretching from the commercial blocks of Flatbush to Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, might soon be Brooklyn’s next Business Improvement District (BID). The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership announced in a press release yesterday that it has taken steps to organize a steering committee made up of local stakeholders to evaluate which BID services are needed. Property owners would pay an additional property tax to subsidize services such as streetscape improvements, maintenance, security, and programming. According to the Atlantic Yards Report, a BID would support Ratner’s "campaign to call the entire Atlantic Yards site part of Downtown Brooklyn." First the BID needs to go through several hearings and approvals by local community boards, the City Planning Commission and New York City Council before moving forward.
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Forest City Breaks Ground at Atlantic Yards’ B2 Tower, Shows Off Modular Design

At Tuesday's groundbreaking of B2, the first 32-story residential tower to be built at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New Yorkers got a sneak peek at how the world’s tallest modular building will be constructed. Just beyond the podium stood what officials call the “chassis,” a steel framed box that makes up an essential structural element of the building. “You don’t need to compromise on design when it comes to modular,” said Developer Bruce Ratner. Located on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, the SHoP Architects-designed tower will rise above the Barclay Center, also designed by SHoP, and offer 363 units split evenly between affordable housing and market rate units. Ratner told the audience that the affordable units at Atlantic Yards will be equipped with the exact same appliances and amenities as the market rate apartments: “You will not know an affordable unit from a market rate unit.” The bulk of the construction of the modular components will happen in a 100,000 square-foot space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the help of 125 unionized workers, which MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner, said would help in the “reduction of traffic, dust, and waste” and Mayor Bloomberg hailed as “cheaper and less disruptive.” B2 is just the first of more than a dozen residential buildings to come.
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Childs Anchors Atlantic Yards?

The Brooklyn Paper bumped into David Childs last week, during the opening of his SOM colleague Roger Duffy's new Toren condo tower, and the BKP is reporting the surprising news that both could possibly be working on some of the 16 residential towers proposed for Bruce Ratner's nearby Atlantic Yards development.
“First, he brought me in to look at the arena design, which I think is very good now,” Childs said, referring to the current design collaboration between Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects. “And then we talked about working together on the residential buildings,” added Childs.
A Ratner spokesperson acknowledged Childs' discussions with Ratner to the Paper but called speculation on their future together "premature." While critics still question whether those towers will ever get off the ground, the project, or at least the arena, is closer than ever to reality. A groundbreaking is scheduled for tomorrow, following a court ruling last Monday affirming the state's right to seize land from the project's remaining holdouts, most notably Dan Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and Freddie's bar. The groundbreaking is to be attended by the likes of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz—both long-time supporters of the project—as well as Governor David Paterson and rapper and Nets-part-owner Jay-Z. Goldstein and Freddie's are holding a counter-groundbreaking, where they say they will bury the soul of Brooklyn, along with 3-foot-tall bobbleheads of the aforementioned public figures. Whether this will finally manage to stop the contentious project remains to be seen, but it's bound to make for good street theater. UPDATE 3/11: The Brooklyn Paper is also reporting that the final lawsuit pending against the project, over the state's revisions to the scope of the project, came down in Ratner's favor yesterday. And so the fait accompli has been accomplished.
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The Final Slam Dunk?

There may be a few hoops left to jump through before Bruce Ratner can begin construction of his SHoP- and Ellerbe Becket-designed arena for the Brooklyn, New Jersey, Nets, such as completing a partial sale of the team to a Russian oligarch, prevailing in some outstanding lawsuits, and going ahead with eminent domain against the area's remaining holdouts. But the developer appears to have cleared the final major hurdle standing in his way with the successful sale of $511 million in tax-exempt bonds today for his $900 million arena. (There are still taxed bonds and an equity stake to be taken care of, but they lacked the December 31 deadline.) Yes, those hoops may still present challenges, but none had the same drop-dead, end-of-the-year deadline the bonds did, and they seemed the likeliest chance for the project's opponents to succeed. Instead, they sold briskly in a matter of hours, or, as Ratner put it in a release, "The interest in the arena bond offering was beyond our expectations," expectations that have always been highly optimistic, though also always on the money. Perhaps this is why they are already preparing to divert traffic starting next Monday to make way for construction.
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Everybody Wants a Bailout

With the news today, reported by The Observer, that Larry Silverstein has begun legal proceedings against the Port Authority to end the gridlock at Ground Zero, as well as the developments two weeks prior at Atlantic Yards, it seems obvious to us what's going on here. Having witnessed the financial titans across town receive hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money, these developers now want theirs. Granted, so did Larry Flint and the porn industry, but the comparison bears consideration. To begin with, the market has failed for both finance and real estate--to say nothing of every other industry--leaving "free market" options closed. Where the bankers have turned to the Treasury and the federal government, Silverstein and Bruce Ratner, in one form or another, have turned to local pols. At Ground Zero, Silverstein is having difficulty finding financing for Towers 2 and 3, so he wants the Port Authority to provide it, or at least back it, on those projects. The story at Atlantic Yards has been much the same, with Ratner unable to afford the full amount for the Vanderbilt Yards nor go through a complete public review process for a new general project plan to ensure there is time to qualify for already dubious tax-exempt bonds. In both cases, public agencies that are already hard up for cash have been asked to foot the bill or undersign considerable amounts of risk to ensure projects with uncertain futures go forward. In the case of Atlantic Yards, the MTA and ESDC have already rolled over. It remains to be seen whether the Port Authority will cave to the abiding political and now legal pressures surrounding the Ground Zero deal. It would not be surprising if the authority did, though, given the examples set in Brooklyn and Washington.
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Gehry Officially Gone

As we wrote in  our story last week, Frank Gehry might not be involved with any buildings on the Atlantic Yards site and not just the arena. As a Forest City Ratner spokesperson told me, "Frank might design one of the buildings later, I don’t think it’s impossible. But right now, he is just the master planner.” Well, as of yesterday, WNYC reported that the it will be impossible after all:
Just two years ago, developer Forest City Ratner was insisting Gehry would design each and every one of the 16 towers that surrounded the arena. Gehry had dubbed one of them Miss Brooklyn. But two sources close to the project say now the developer is not planning to use Gehry any more, citing costs, the architect's lack of interest and the complications of meshing different architectural styles in a small space. A spokesman for Forest City Ratner said Gehry is still "involved" in the project but did not answer specific questions. The developer says it plans to break ground on the arena this fall, and the first residential building six months later.
While this is unsurprising news, it highlights just how challenging the project will be going forward, from the prospective of design, and also reaffirms a frequent criticism of Ratner's project, that the developer has no interest in building anything but the arena. Sure, it could be done, but at what (additional) cost?
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Atlantic Yards Gets Contextual

The Atlantic Yards has been through a number of iterations, including one by the Post entitled Atlantic Lots, which was developed with the MAS. But today's rendering by the paper is perhaps its slyest yet, taking a proclamation by "biggest cheeleader" Borough President Marty Markowitz, who called for the project to be clad in brownstone as a cost-saving measure. The comment came after rumors circulated that not only was Frank Gehry's staff off the project, but so was the architect himself. Bruce Ratner, the project's developer, admitted that a cost-engineering firm had been hired--though as much of the press incorrectly presumed, this has little to do with the employment status of the project lead--and said later that he would consider Markowitz's proposal. And yet, neither agreed to comment on the Post's renderings when contacted by the paper. (Reporter Rich Calder said in an email that a firm in the city did the mock-up, though he would not identify which one, at the architect's behest.) Dan Goldstein, head of anti-Yards group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, was happy to fill the void, calling the project's demise once again.
"With its substantial legal and financial obstacles, the Atlantic Yards proposal is on life support," Goldstein said. "It is time for the Paterson Administration to pull the plug.
Naturally, Curbed had its own Romantic ideas about the whole affair. And if the whole brownstone saga weren't strange enough, No Land Grab picked up an interesting tidbit from a profile of retiring Miami Heat center Alonso Mourning, who said that after being traded to the Nets, where he expected to win a championship, the team subsequently took a nosedive. When he asked Ratner what was going on, Mourning said the Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer told him that moving the team to Brooklyn was his sole priority, not winning games. (h/t AYR)
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Cutting the Nets?

At Monday's Coney Island charrette kick-off, hosted by the Municipal Art Society, a number of stakeholders from the area gave presentations to the design team to help them form ideas for leading the charrette in a few weeks. (To share your own, visit the imagineconey.com, which just launched today.) One of the presentations was given by Jon Benguiat, the director of planning and development for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who spoke about Asser Levy Park, a small outdoor amphitheater and park across Surf Avenue from the aquarium, which is getting a dramatic $64 million retractable roof courtesy of Grimshaw. (More on that soon, we hope.) As with all these things, there was a Power Point presentation, and as with all Power Point presentations, the whole thing took some time to boot up. In the interim, Benguiat decided to tell the story of how he became Marty's planning direct, during which he let some shocking news about the Atlantic Yards, or at least the fate of the Brooklyn Nets, slide. But first a caveat: We had considered letting this news go on Monday, in light of the off-hand circumstances and the fact that AN is not one for "gotcha journalism." After all, it would not come as a surprise to most people following the project that it is in trouble, what with Forect City's stock plummeting, its credit rating following suit, and, speaking of suit's, DDDB's got picked up by the state appeals court. Granted the IRS ruled in Bruce Ratner's favor on some tax-exempt bonds, but that's got to be small consolation. However, when reports about the possible sale or relocation of the Nets began to circulate the past two days, as Atlantic Yards watchdog Norman Oder has pointed out, we felt it out duty to relay Benguiat's words. Waiting on Monday for the projector to warm up, Benguiat told the crowd that, when Marty got elected, he had served as the previous borough president's director of land use. Asking if Markowitz was looking for one, the beep-to-be said no, but he did need a director of planning. "Without even thinking about it, I said yes," Benguiat said. "Then I spent the whole night fretting, wondering what I'd gotten myself into." Benguiat said his anxiety only grew when he showed up for the first day of work and Markowitz rattled off the list of initiatives he hoped to pursue: the revival of Coney Island, return of pro sports to the borough, realization of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and redevelopment of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront. "I won't repeat all the expletives I spewed when I heard this," Benguiat said. "But here we are, nearly all of them complete. I'm not sure if we're going to get the Nets or not. We should have groundbreaking in December, but we'll see." How much Benguiat knows--even Ratner has admitted that the groundbreaking will likely be pushed back due to the lawsuit--is uncertain, but his statement is one of the most dire to come out of the Markowitz administration, which is uniformly unwavering in its support for the project, no matter the legal or financial circumstances. Asked to clarify his comments afterwards, Benguiat declined to comment, instead directing AN to the borough president's press office, which released the following statement from Markowitz:
The current state of the American economy underscores the importance of moving ahead with projects like Atlantic Yards, and I am confident the project will happen. It will create union jobs and much-needed affordable housing, as well as bring professional sports back to Downtown Brooklyn—becoming just the kind of investment magnet that Brooklyn and New York City need right now
Now that the team is in doubt, would the Atlantic Yards project still enjoy the full support of the borough president without one of its foremost reasons for being? Markowitz's office has yet to respond on that front. No word yet from Forest City Ratner, either.