The Sit-Down

Tucker Reed Won’t Sleep Until Downtown Brooklyn Becomes a 24/7 Community

Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Tucker Reed is sweet on Brooklyn—big time. A resident of Prospect Heights who enjoys frequenting the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mr. Reed is a champion of the city’s most populous borough. He is a ball of energy as he talks about all of the work the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has done with him as president for the past two years, from supporting the technology sector with the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Coalition to establishing Downtown Brooklyn as New York City’s college town. About a year after Commercial Observer conducted the Sit-Down interview with Mr. Tucker, we wanted to check in and see how the nonprofit has been doing with the reinvention of Downtown Brooklyn. Read More

Lobby

MaryAnne Gilmartin Named Co-Chair of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Board

MaryAnne Gilmartin

MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, and tech leader MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis will serve as the new co-chairs of the board of directors of the nonprofit Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

“When the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership launched in 2006, Downtown Brooklyn looked, felt and served a very different role than today,” Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed said in a statement. “Now, new firms and families are choosing to be here because of the neighborhood’s strong foundation and rich history. MaryAnne and Bre embody a new generation of Brooklyn entrepreneurs, and I am delighted that we’ll be able to tap into their experience and wisdom.” Read More

Year in Real Estate

The Mayoral Equation

Bill de Blasio (Photo: AP)

William Bratton’s selection as police commissioner under Bill de Blasio will stand as perhaps the mayor-elect’s most prominent appointment. But as the clock ticks on Michael Bloomberg’s administration, two questions remain unanswered: Which projects begun under Mayor Bloomberg will unfold as planned? And who will shepherd Mr. de Blasio’s development goals?

In its final weeks in power, the Bloomberg administration is rushing to consolidate the mayor’s imposing real estate legacy. A New York Times article on Monday reported that $12 billion worth of projects were being pushed through for approval in the mayor’s twilight hours. They include grand projects like a massive Ferris wheel and outlet mall on Staten Island, America’s largest indoor ice rink in the Bronx and the Domino sugar factory redevelopment on the Brooklyn waterfront.  Read More

Atlantic Yards

Forest City and Greenland Group Complete Atlantic Yards Partnership Agreement

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Forest City Enterprises and Greenland Holdings Group, a Chinese state-owned developer, have completed an agreement for a joint-venture to develop Atlantic Yards, the companies announced today.

The two parties had previously announced a preliminary deal in October under which Greenland would acquire a 70-percent stake in the Atlantic Yards project from Forest City. Expected to close in 2014, the joint venture includes phases one and two of the project, excluding the Barclays Center and the B2 modular housing tower.

Read More

Atlantic Yards

State to Pay $300,000 to Lawyers Who Won Atlantic Yards Timetable Case

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Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment in Brooklyn, has agreed to pay $300,000 in fees to lawyers representing two community coalitions that won a lingering lawsuit over the project’s timetable.

The lawyers successfully challenged the agency’s decision, in 2009, to extend the potential build-out of the project to 25 years, while only studying the impact of a five-year delay on a project long billed as taking 10 years. Read More

Atlantic Yards

Forest City Ratner Sues the City for More Atlantic Yards Tax Breaks

The arena is there, but the housing towers remain ghosts.

Apparently, $761 million in subsidies and tax breaks isn’t enough for Forest City Ratner. The Atlantic Yards developer is thanking the city for its generosity by suing the Department of Finance for a lower tax assessment.

The developer has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Finance, in an attempt to knock down the market value assessment on block 1129, which comprises the southern section of the development site, from $11.2 million to a scant $1.6 million, DNAinfo reported today. Read More

Atlantic Yards

Chinese Firm Signs Preliminary Deal As Atlantic Yards Majority Investor

(Photo: SHoP Architects, via WSJ)

Chinese state-owned property developer Greenland Holdings Group signed a preliminary deal to buy a majority stake in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards, under which the Shanghai-based investor would take a 70 percent stake from Forest City Ratner Companies.

Under the proposal, Greenland would co-developing the residential portion of the complex and sharing its costs going forward, while FCRC Read More

Atlantic Yards

Barclays Center’s First Year, By The Numbers

Jay-Z Opens Barclays Center - Show

By most measures, the Barclays Center had a very good year since opening with eight Jay-Z concerts a year ago this Saturday, including hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards last month. As the statistics show, its success as a concert venue was significant, even if audience attendance was bolstered in some part by ongoing renovations at Madison Square Garden.

While some scheduled events never came to fruition, the total number of events lagged behind several estimates, and the start-up costs were a drag on profits, the Barclays Center will get a big bump during the 2015-2016 season when the New York Islanders move in.

Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report gathered and crunched the numbers for The Commercial Observer to assess the promises, projections and realities.

Read More

Mortgage Observer

EB-5 Funding On Rise, Long Arm of Law Watchful

Applications for the EB-5 program are on the rise.

It started with Gary Barnett’s Gem Tower and Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards. When credit tightened in 2009, some of the most respected New York developers had begun turning to foreign money to finance their construction projects via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 program. The federal program is designed to provide permanent residency to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in job-creating projects. Of late, with the banking sector increasingly willing to finance projects but with the loan-to-cost of their loans languishing in the 60 percent to 65 percent range, EB-5 funding—for which interest rates are usually in the one-digit range—is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to costlier mezzanine financing, sources told Mortgage Observer.

Read More

Postings

Spoiled Sports: NASCAR Isn’t the Only Venue to Bite Dust

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Last week, the International Speedway Corporation sold a Staten Island plot of nearly 700 acres for $80 million, bringing a close to a saga in which the organization had promised to bring an 82,000-seat NASCAR raceway to the metropolitan New York area. The sale of the land for the proposed project, scuttled in 2006 after dissent by local residents, brings to mind a handful of other ambitious plans for other New York sports venues that were never realized.

Below, we take a look at some of the most prominent examples. Read More

The Sit-Down

Our Lady of the Forest: MaryAnne Gilmartin On Taking Charge at FCRC

MaryAnne Gilmartin

Last week, Forest City Enterprises confirmed what had become an open secret in New York real estate circles: MaryAnne Gilmartin would succeed Bruce Ratner as president and chief executive of the company’s New York subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies. Ms Gilmartin spoke with The Commercial Observer on the day of the announcement last week about the process of deciding on a succession plan, what she will bring to the table and how her ascension to the top of FCRC will impact the way women are viewed in the real estate industry.

Read More

Controversies

Gary LaBarbara of Building Trades Thrashes City Point Developers as Community Groups Rally for Changes

A peak atop the Armani Exchange at City Point

Gary LaBarbara has an axe to grind with developers at City Point before they dig any deeper into Downtown Brooklyn.

In a move that could exacerbate friction that’s already occurring at the community level, the president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of New York thrashed the builders of the development project, claiming that they are “failing” to meet the needs of the community by instead catering to private interests.

“City Point is receiving vast amounts of public subsidies ranging from tax exempt bond financing to property tax abatements,” Mr. LaBarbera wrote in an op-ed that appeared in Real Estate Weekly yesterday.  “But on a score central to responsible economic development for everyday New Yorkers — creating good jobs that strengthen local communities — City Point is failing.” Read More

The Lobby

It’s True: Bruce Ratner to Step Down as Forest City CEO

hamill1n-3-web

Bruce Ratner is stepping down as CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, a source tied to the organization tells The Commercial Observer, confirming rumors that have been swirling around the industry for the past year.

Mr. Ratner, 68, will step aside this winter, assuming the role of company chairman and putting MaryAnne Gilmartin, the firm’s current executive vice president of development and leasing, at the helm of the firm’s day-to-day operations, the source said.

“It’s been in the works for a significant amount of time… over the last year or so,” the source said.  “Everyone knows Bruce is a mentor to her (Ms. Gilmartin) and that she was being groomed for the role.”

“The stories are accurate,” he added, referring to the string of media reports that followed suit after an initial report published in Crain’s yesterday.

The decision begs the question of whether the man behind the Barclays Center and Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, and the 52-Story marvel and home to The New York Times at 620 Eighth Avenue, has simply had enough of the day-to-day squabbles that characterized the last decade of his tenure at the firm. Read More

Cover Story

IT’S A MOD, MOD, MOD, MOD WORLD

madworld

Two years ago, Bruce Ratner sought to ease a shrinking budget and appease swarms of critics who lambasted the original rendering for a residential tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn as a “Lego-like” atrocity.

Like a frustrated schoolboy, he punted the plans to erect a set of oddly arranged giant blocks, shoving designer Frank Gehry Read More