Creating Sports-Oriented Districts – Successes and Long-term viability

Creating Sports-Oriented Districts – Successes and Long-Term Viability

 On Friday, September 25, Herrick hosted the Urban Land Institute of New York (ULI) for a discussion on Sports-Oriented Districts. Speakers included:

  • Richard Browne, Managing Partner, Sterling Equities
  • Jim Lester, Senior Vice President of Commercial and Residential Development, Forest City Ratner Companies
  • Brad Mayne, President and CEO, Metlife Stadium

The panel was moderated by Bill Johnson, Designing Principal at HOK Sports, Recreation and Entertainment and the introduction to the panel was given by Mitch Korbey, Partner and Chair of Herrick’s Land Use & Zoning Group.

The panel focused on the concept of New York is as a home to the greatest concentration of professional sports teams in the country. These sports-districts’ successes and long-term viability are dependent on getting the right mix of uses, critical mass and the most valuable connection to the communities surrounding them.

Bill Johnson stressed the importance of establishing a vision but also of ensuring that a critical mass, correct mix and community connection was present when venturing into the planning and development of these districts.

Richard Browne spoke about the successes and challenges he has faced in the development of Citifield and the surrounding area.  As they continue to develop the area to serve the community beyond the stadium, Richard said, “It is important to create critical mass outside of baseball season.” Developers are now focused on building a one-million square-foot shopping mall near Citifield.

Jim Lester commented on the development of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, saying: “Four residential buildings are going up around Barclays, one of which is entirely affordable housing,” This serves the community well because of the $75 million transit hub that opens right by Barclays.” With the Islanders coming to Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum being completely revamped, opportunities to grow and develop these communities are becoming more commonplace. Nassau Coliseum will be an entertainment hub for the community, focusing the venue on family entertainment, concerts, boxing and even an indoor skydiving arena.

Brad Mayne spoke about a $38 million cleanup of industrial sites to develop areas in Victory Park, Dallas around the American Airlines Center. These massive cleanup efforts for development are what help to foster and build communities around these sports districts.  “Never stop searching for new opportunities.” said Mayne, who talked about the upcoming American Dream mall at the Meadowlands. The mall is projected to have an indoor water park, an ice rink and concert hall and amusement rides, and with tenants like Hermes signed on, this development will definitely draw new interest to this district.

Community and Business Leaders Discuss LIC’s Future at Bisnow’s Recent Panel

Bisnow’s Future of Long Island City was held at Water’s Edge Restaurant, with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the 59th Street Bridge as a backdrop to the event. Mitch Korbey moderated the first panel of the day entitled, “Creating a Community,” and panelists included:

  • Sheila Lewandowski, Co-Founder, The Chocolate Factory Theater
  • David Maundrell, Founder,
  • Jenni Kim, COO, MoMA PS1
  • Joshua Schneps, President, LIC Flea & Food
  • Jodi Stein, VP, Lightstone Group

The discussion kicked off with Jenni Kim speaking about the impact MoMA PS1 has had on the LIC community and how MoMA PS1 has steadily been drawing a growing art audience into Queens. “People are starting to realize it’s more than just two stops on a train,” Jenni said. “An entire world of art that they have not experienced yet is just really, really close.” Sheila Lewandowski spoke about how big box stores seem to be stifling some of the charm of the neighborhood, and while she is an advocate of progress, the ability to grow and create a community should be more than brand name stores, pharmacies and banks. She said, “Long Island City’s charm comes from the mom and pop stores we have around here.”

Jodi Stein mentioned that she didn’t believe that Long Island City was “up and coming” but rather that it has already arrived and said: “I am really excited for what lies ahead here. There is so much opportunity in Long Island City and the opportunities will continue at the current growth rate.” David Maundrell echoed Jodi and Sheila’s sentiments in that, in order to create a community and promote growth, the charm of home-grown stores and development needs to be encouraged. He also said: “I do believe that while Long Island City has ‘arrived’ we still don’t have the infrastructure, as far as schools, to support the out-of-staters and families who are now skipping Manhattan, and swarming to live here.” Josh Schneps said that he has been seeing a wide demographic range frequenting the LIC Flea & Food market on weekends because there is a genuine curiosity for people to try something different. “The streets are really quiet around here on the weekend. So, the LIC Flea has been a nice oasis for people in and outside the community to go spend some time outdoors and try a great variety of foods and goods. We have many visitors from Brooklyn and Manhattan as people are starting to realize that we are a short train ride away and we have so much to offer here.”

Mitch Korbey kept a lively discussion going and concluded the panel by reminding the audience that development and investor opportunities are welcome in Long Island City, with hopeful fingers crossed that retaining the charm and personality of the neighborhood will be high on the priority list!

For Bisnow’s recap of the full event, click here.


An Air Rights Plan to Help Hudson River Park


You may have heard about an innovative and ambitious plan being developed by the Hudson River Park Trust, intended as a way to finance (in part) the ongoing construction and continued maintenance of the group’s namesake, five-mile-long open space, which stretches from the Battery to 59th Street in Manhattan, encompassing a “500-acre footprint” including over a dozen piers extending into the Hudson.

The group is currently in the planning stages for a proposal that would effectively transfer unused development rights tied to a certain number of the existing piers (quoted in recent press coverage as the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million square feet), to an area defined as a special “transfer district” (similar to the underlying framework along the High Line and other delineated areas in the City), covering roughly one City block’s width in from the shoreline, for the full length of the Park.

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Meet the New Planning Commissioner


Late last week, Carl Weisbrod was officially appointed to the Chair of the City Planning Commission, a two-in-one title that brings the added responsibilities of the Director of the City Planning Department.

The appointment of Mr. Weisbrod had been reportedly decided earlier in the week by City Hall and thus what surprise there was to the news was tempered by a sense of relief and even comfort.  Because of the relatively late appointment — and after a search that had had as many as half-a-dozen presumed contenders as recently as a week ago — this particular position had become the focus of increasing speculation across the real estate and development community.  The fact that Mr. Weisbrod was the co-chair of the Mayor’s own transition team — an unusual scenario he himself acknowledged at his inaugural press conference — provided an added layer of intrigue, but one that somehow seemed appropriate in the end.

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How did it get so late so soon?*


Last week, David Greenfield (44th District, Brooklyn) was selected to chair the City Council’s Land Use Committee, but a number of key agency appointments in the de Blasio administration remain vacant or unconfirmed.  With turnover being widely reported at the top of City Planning, Landmarks, the BSA and HPD (to name just some) we, along with many others with an interest in land use and real estate, eagerly await word on those and other appointments. Continue reading

DEC Weighs In On Fracking: Proposes Permitting with Restrictions

The controversy over hydraulic fracturing in New York State has entered a new phase with the release of a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“DSGEIS”) by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) containing recommendations for the implementation of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York.  If implemented, these recommendations would end a moratorium on permits for drilling new wells for high-volume hydraulic fracturing (also known as “hydrofracking”).  The moratorium has effectively been in place since 2008 and was made official by an Executive Order issued by then-Governor David Paterson in December 2010.

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Supreme Court Affirms EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a significant decision in a controversial case involving climate change and the Federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. On June 20, in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut, (Case # 10-174) the Supreme Court ruled that Congress, via the Clean Air Act, has authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This authority means that the Federal government has “occupied the field” of greenhouse gas emission regulation, thus precluding suits by third parties under federal common law (such as public nuisance claims) as a means to compel companies that emit greenhouse gases in their operations to limit those emissions. More importantly, this decision marks the second time that the Supreme Court has affirmatively stated that Congress has granted EPA the authority to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which is believed by a majority of the scientific community to be causing or contributing to global climate change. Continue reading

Supreme Court: EPA Free to Use UAO Mechanism

On June 6, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to consider a constitutional challenge brought by the General Electric Company (“GE”) against an enforcement mechanism frequently used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to compel potentially responsible parties (“PRPs”–see discussion below) to clean up contaminated sites under the Federal Superfund law.  The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, known as a denial of certiorari, lets stand a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in favor of EPA in the case of General Electric Co. v. Jackson, 610 F.3d 110 (D.C. Cir., June 29, 2010).  GE had claimed that the particular enforcement mechanism, known as a Unilateral Administrative Order (“UAO”) represented a violation of the constitutional right to due process.  The Supreme Court’s action would appear to preclude further due process challenges to EPA’s use of the UAO. Continue reading

Governor Cuomo Appoints New DEC Commissioner

On January 4, Governor Cuomo announced the appointment of Joseph Martens as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  Since 1998, Mr. Martens has served as President of the Open Space Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of scenic, natural and historic landscapes.  During Mr. Martens’ tenure, the Open Space Institute has engaged in a significant preservation campaign involving land acquisition and the placement of conservation easements.  Mr. Martens’ appointment as DEC Commissioner, which is subject to confirmation by the State Senate, has been warmly received by environmental advocacy organizations in New York State.  As of this writing, business organizations have not  publicly weighed in on the appointment. Continue reading

Fracking Controversy: Gov Paterson Issues Moratorium on Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing

Shortly after taking office, the incoming administration of Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo and his choice for Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) will have to address a controversial issue that has significant implications for the State’s economy, energy use and the environment.  The issue is the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, (also known as “hydro-fracking” or simply “fracking”), an emerging technique for drilling underground wells to recover natural gas. Continue reading