Roundtable: What we learned about VR at GDC

first_img 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyShow all comments (4)Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.5 years ago You’re right Greg, there’s a veritable herd.If you’re standing in VR (essential if your character is) then you’re going to need a containment frame anyway. These issues can’t just be swept under the carpet because they’re inconvenient. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJulian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.5 years ago I hope game developers and HMD manufacturers are taking note, particularly regarding Matthew’s point about locomotion. It really is the elephant in the room. With the best of intentions many developers are breaking the core rules of good VR. The key is to simplify reality to emulate it. That way your brain will willingly accept the simulation. If you don’t your brain will constantly tell you this is fake.Lands End is a beautiful and wonderfully produced game but it’s compromised by non-natural navigation. Their idea is that you stare at a spot and it carries you there like a puppet. The problem is that you don’t feel grounded. Walking up a sheer cliff path should cause a very strong visceral reaction but you get nothing. When you use your legs to move around in VR the impact is dramatic, so like it or not locomotion platforms (omni-directional treadmills) are crucial to the future of VR.If you want an example watch the way this girl screams and runs away from the monster in this Gear VR test:https://youtu.be/-zaq7CtBhpoHave you ever seen anything like that?So my plea to game developers is simple: by all means add obscure methods like teleportation but PLEASE leave in the default gamepad interface as a player option. That way those who acquire the right hardware can really appreciate your game (even if you can’t yourselves!).If you are in London and would like to try this we have just been chosen for the first Virgin Media Techstars accelerator programme, so we now have Liberty Global, the world’s largest cable company, as a shareholder. For 2 months in a couple of weeks we will have a permanent demo set up at VM’s marketing office in Aldgate East. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyGreg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago Hmmm. No one has noted the other elephants in the room: pets + small children + VR cables = a lot of busted expensive gear when the curious kid or kitty gets tangled up. Those light horror stories will be fun to read as will the ones about waving fields of pet hair in one’s expensive goggles from time to time. 😀center_img 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. Roundtable: What we learned about VR at GDCVirtual reality is a current reality, but its future remains a question mark – the GI.biz team reflects on VR we saw during GDCGamesIndustry InternationalTuesday 22nd March 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareIf there was one big trend that dominated last week’s Game Developers Conference, it was virtual reality. It was obvious going into the show that VR would be prominent, what with the imminent launches of the Rift and Vive and a two-day “VRDC” summit taking place during the show. However, the degree of interest and enthusiasm surrounding VR surprised even the show’s organizers. After the first day’s VRDC talks packed not only their conference rooms but planned overflow rooms, organizers rearranged the show schedule overnight, moving the entire track into larger auditoriums in another hall of the conference center a block away. That set the tone for a week where seemingly everyone wanted to talk about VR, whether they were long-time advocates for the tech, new converts, or immutable skeptics.The GamesIndustry.biz team was no exception, so after allowing a few days to process everything we saw and heard and experienced during the week, here’s how GDC 2016 informed and impacted each of our perspectives in the dawning era of VR.James BrightmanAfter having tried several more VR games during GDC last week, including Valve’s The Lab and Star Wars: Tatooine demos on Vive, I’m finally a believer in the promise of VR. Admittedly, there are very few people who are going to have an ideal space in their homes or apartments for proper room-scale VR that Vive can offer (especially in parts of Asia), but what The Lab and Tatooine showed me is just how incredibly immersive VR can be. I’ve never had that sense of presence in a video game more than I did with Vive, and it’s truly astonishing to think about all the wild games and experiences that could be built using that technology. There are several questions about VR that will take some time to be properly answered, however. When will the games feel less like demos and more like full-blown titles? How many brand-new genres will pop up to take advantage specifically of VR? How long will it be before we can all get into VR without selling our blood and kidneys on the black market? How long can players truly play a VR title without feeling out of sorts? The same genres that we can play for 2-3 hours on an HDTV may be difficult to stay engaged with for that same period of time wearing a headset.For me personally, motion sickness is still an issue – not in all games, but anything with faster movements and lots of head turning and spinning. In playing Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight, for example, while I didn’t have a severe case of motion sickness, after using my head to steer the eagle for a period of 15 minutes I began to feel slightly woozy. Not only that, but from the hardware perspective it’s still a major annoyance to have VR goggles smashed up against your own prescription glasses. Vive feels slightly more comfortable to me, but then again with Vive I had to be aware of all the wires coming out of the back of my head. Jacking into the matrix is a blast, but being on the lookout for wires definitely takes you out of the experience. Over time, all of these issues will be addressed. VR headsets will be made ever more streamlined and comfortable, you’ll likely be able to get custom prescription lenses (as Jesse Schell predicted), and wireless headsets will be the norm (AMD already has one it’s promoting). And yes, VR is currently a luxury for people who have lots of disposable income, but that’s always been true for any new exciting technology. We’re all walking around with supercomputers in our pockets nowadays, and they are completely commoditized – eventually VR, AR or some mixture will get there as well. I think VR’s greatest potential lies in what it can do to connect players with in-game characters and indeed, other players. Playing Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within (a social deduction game) forced me to engage with my fellow human beings in a way that no other online game has. Being fully immersed in a VR world also can allow players to sympathize and empathize on a far greater level than we have with characters in traditional games. Imagine how intense a game like Papers, Please might be in VR, for example. Likewise, emotions may be so strong in VR that already developers during GDC talked about the very real dangers of pushing people’s fear buttons too hard. VR is a new paradigm and it’s going to take some time to iron out the wrinkles. Remember the jump from pixels and sprites in 2D to the very first 3D polygonal games? There was a ton of excitement but also, frankly, a lot of utter garbage. But the industry is undoubtedly better for it. Rachel WeberThe most exciting thing for me at this year’s GDC, aside from watching my boyfriend scream his way through a Paranormal Activity VR demo, was realising just how much new blood virtual reality is bringing to the industry. GDC is so often a place to see all the usual faces, the AAA people in their expensive IP celebrating t-shirts, the indies making us all look like middle-grade math teachers, but this year there were a whole bunch of fresh faces. The new technology has attracted people from the worlds of film and television, as well as new indies, and they’re offering a totally new perspective that doesn’t come from years of making and playing console games or mobile time munchers.”It’s time to stop pretending that the VR revolution is an ‘if’ and accept that it’s a ‘when'” The Paranormal Activity VR demo was a good example of an intense experience that could only have come from a team familiar with the pacing and set up of a good film or TV show. Gary The Gull is another personal favourite, a collaboration between Limitless and Motional, both founded by former Pixar employees who understand characters and connection in an entirely different way.A lot of people will want to focus on the problems VR will face — motion sickness, marketing, comfort, content — but then when the motorcar was invented a lot of people were worried they would scare the horses. PlayStation VR’s price has made this a truly accessible technology — less than the latest mobile phone — and the fact that pre-orders have sold out for it and all the other headsets prove there is an appetite. It’s time to stop pretending that the VR revolution is an “if” and accept that it’s a “when”. Matthew HandrahanFor me, GDC posed a lot more questions about VR than it answered, reinforcing the same familiar strengths and further accentuating the size and importance of the lingering problems.The most obvious of those was player movement, a particularly difficult issue due to its role in inducing motion sickness through acceleration, deceleration and independent movement of the player’s viewpoint. If you are designing a VR experience in first-person — and this is where much of the promise of VR lies — then the smartest choice is to limit the player’s in-game movements to those they can make in the real-world. With Vive, due to the wire that tethers the headset to the PC, this means walking a few feet in any direction. With Oculus Rift and PSVR, neither of which have an equivalent to Vive’s Lighthouse technology, the player’s avatar is better off sitting or standing still. There’s a very good reason why Valve and HTC are insisting that wand controllers are part of the entry-level package, and I now believe that Oculus and Sony should be doing the same with Touch and Move respectively. Packing in an Xbox One controller, in particular, sends the wrong message to both players and designers alike.”It isn’t so much a problem with the hardware as a problem with the human brain, and until there is an omni-directional treadmill in every VR user’s home, we will have to make do with ‘solutions’ like teleportation” Ultimately, the limitation on movement is a severe limitation in general, one that directly contributes to the absence of substantial experiences that Rob Fahey pointed out in his editorial last week. When the player must stay in either a single position (as with Oculus and PSVR) or a very limited space (as with Vive), and they can only interact with objects within touching distance (via hand inputs), there are only so many nails the developer’s hammer can strike: either contained, focused and brief, or a game where the player’s static position is integral and organic to the game design, hence the surfeit of experiences based around racing and flying. For now, this mix of dog-fighting and short, sharp shocks will suffice, but the assumption that a solution to limited movement will arrive in the near future seems hopeful at best. Put simply, it isn’t so much a problem with the hardware as a problem with the human brain, and until there is an omni-directional treadmill in every VR user’s home, we will have to make do with “solutions” like teleportation – a feature of almost every demo I tried that wanted the player to actually explore and interact with the world, and one that felt abstract and immersion shattering every single time.Brendan SinclairWhile everyone is excited to see the creative possibilities VR will offer game developers, I’m wondering about the creative possibilities it could offer other industry players. Specifically, I look at mobile VR right now and I see an opportunity for companies to rewrite history, because repeating it beat-for-beat probably won’t work.I don’t think Apple intended free-to-play to dominate like this when it launched the App Store, but it was a rational endpoint when you had an open platform hosting inexpensive games that also suffered from discoverability problems and virtually no platform management apart from forbidding games that were straight up stolen or dared to comment on something relevant in the world. With mobile VR, I wonder if that rational endpoint, or the route there, might still be changed.”I don’t think the standard mobile business model will work for [mobile VR], but I’m not sure it can borrow the premium models of its PC and console cousins, either” Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games For one thing, the installed base of VR headsets isn’t large enough to support the massive communities on which free-to-play games thrive; there simply aren’t enough whales in that pond (at least, not yet). Beyond the cold numbers, I don’t think VR games are good enough to make free-to-play viable yet. The model works best with games that get their hooks into players and keep them coming back again and again for months or years. To date, all the experiences I’ve seen in VR have been driven more by the novelty of the tech than any long-term appeal. Developers are still coming to terms with the basic language they use to talk about making VR games, and we’re a long way from having effective VR gameplay templates that can be endlessly reworked, reskinned, and rehashed like in the free-to-play mobile space.Then there’s the increased potential mobile VR has to command a premium price point as a standard. People get that it’s a different experience, and I suspect they’re willing to pay specifically for that difference in the same way movie theaters charge a few bucks more to see the latest blockbuster in 3D (We can debate whether the analogy can be further extended to 3DTVs some other time).While mobile VR is the area I have the least interest in as a consumer, it’s the area I’m most curious about as an industry watcher. I don’t think the standard mobile business model will work for it, but I’m not sure it can borrow the premium models of its PC and console cousins, either. If mobile VR is going to find its footing, some of the bigger players in the field will have to articulate a clear vision of how the market’s going to work and what they want it to be.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 7 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoLatest comments (4)Emmanuel Dorée Studying Software Engineering, Open University5 years ago Matthew is on the money with his comment. Not only solving this core issue will be delicate but also I am not sure the audience wants to go on a treadmill or move from the chair/couch. So VR gaming’s problem could indeed be more of a human problem than a technical one.last_img read more

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Solargiga, Motech to put 600 MW of new module capacity online in 2016

first_imgSolargiga, Motech to put 600 MW of new module capacity online in 2016Citing growing demand, Solargiga plans to double module production through a joint venture with Motech in China. November 16, 2015 Christian Roselund Legal Manufacturing Markets Markets & Policy Share The solar industry is seeing a new wave of capital spending, with factories announced and under construction in Southeast Asia, India and the United States. However, last week saw one of the few announcements for new capacity within China.In a Thursday notice on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Solargiga revealed plans to put 600 MW of PV module capacity online over the course of 2016, under a joint venture with Motech. Solargiga already has 600 MW of module production, and this will effectively double its capacity.Solargiga and Motech will together invest US$3.1 million into Jinzhou Yangguang Motech Renewable Energy. This will give Motech a 19% of the company, as Solargiga had already invested US$6.2 million in Jinzhou Yangguang when it was established in October.The JV company will also focus on design, construction and engineering of PV plants.This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: [email protected] content The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… Enabling aluminum in batteries Mark Hutchins 27 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Scientists in South Korea and the UK demonstrated a new cathode material for an aluminum-ion battery, which achieved impressive results in both speci… ITRPV: Large formats are here to stay Mark Hutchins 29 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German engineering association VDMA. The re… Solar park built on rough wooden structures comes online in France Gwénaëlle Deboutte 26 April 2021 pv-magazine.com French company Céléwatt energized its 250 kW ground-mounted array, built with mounting structures made of raw oak wood.April 26, 2021 Gwénaëlle Debo… Spanish developer plans 1 GW solar plant coupled to 80 MW of storage, 100 MW electrolyzer Pilar Sánchez Molina 22 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Soto Solar has submitted the project proposal to the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco). The solar plant could start produc… We all trust the PV performance ratio test Dario Brivio, Partner 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The performance ratio test is at the core of the handover from EPC to owner. Yet sometimes, even when best practice is applied – and without particul… The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… Enabling aluminum in batteries Mark Hutchins 27 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Scientists in South Korea and the UK demonstrated a new cathode material for an aluminum-ion battery, which achieved impressive results in both speci… ITRPV: Large formats are here to stay Mark Hutchins 29 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The 2021 edition of the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was published today by German engineering association VDMA. The re… Solar park built on rough wooden structures comes online in France Gwénaëlle Deboutte 26 April 2021 pv-magazine.com French company Céléwatt energized its 250 kW ground-mounted array, built with mounting structures made of raw oak wood.April 26, 2021 Gwénaëlle Debo… Spanish developer plans 1 GW solar plant coupled to 80 MW of storage, 100 MW electrolyzer Pilar Sánchez Molina 22 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Soto Solar has submitted the project proposal to the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco). The solar plant could start produc… We all trust the PV performance ratio test Dario Brivio, Partner 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com The performance ratio test is at the core of the handover from EPC to owner. Yet sometimes, even when best practice is applied – and without particul… The Hydrogen Stream: 20 MW green hydrogen plant in Finland, two Australian projects move forward Sergio Matalucci 20 April 2021 pv-magazine.com Storegga, Shell and Harbour Energy want to set up a 20 MW blue hydrogen production facility in the U.K. Australia’s Origin Energy wants to build a hy… 123456iAbout these recommendationsShare Christian Roselund Christian Roselund served as US editor at pv magazine from 2014 to 2019. 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Cracking the case for solid state batteries pv magazine 29 April 2021 pv-magazine-australia.com Scientists in the UK used the latest imaging techniques to visualize and understand the process of dendrite formation an… iAbout these recommendations Leave a Reply Cancel replyPlease be mindful of our community standards.Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *CommentName * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. 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Wainstein, Sacco camps trade blows over early school dismissals for BOE…

first_img Bayonne With the North Bergen Board of Education election just days away, the Save Our Schools slate endorsed by Larry Wainstein is attacking Mayor Nick Sacco, also a school official, for dismissing schools early on Tuesday – something the Sacco camp is calling standard procedure. By John Heinis/Hudson County View“Mayor Nicholas Sacco forces teachers to campaign on his behalf and his political puppets. This is just one of many examples of Sacco denying North Bergen students access to a quality education for his own political gain,” Rene Hidalgo-Gatty, a Save Our Schools teams member, said in a statement.“It’s time that the teachers are treated with respect and the students get the education they deserve.”On Tuesday, April 25, North Bergen voters have the opportunity to elect three members to the local board of education. All 17 candidates are seeking a three-year term on the board.On that day, the school district will dismiss students at 1 p.m.Phil Swibinski, a spokesman for the the North Bergen Board of Education, said closing schools early for an election is “standard practice” throughout the state.“This is a standard practice that takes place on election days in municipalities throughout the state, especially in places like North Bergen where most schools contain polling places. Due to the high number of candidates and challenger applications in place for Tuesday’s election, the district felt that this measure would be especially prudent in this case,” he said in an email.“There is no other reason for this policy besides protecting North Bergen children and it’s sad to see Larry Wainstein continue to take cheap shots at our schools, demeaning the excellent work being done by North Bergen students and teachers every day.”Back in February, Wainstein, a 2015 mayoral hopeful who has already vowed to rematch Sacco in 2019, went after Sacco and the board of education as the local teachers union fought for a new contract – which they resolved a couple weeks later.The Wainstein-backed Save Our Schools slate consists of Hidalgo-Gatty, Jose Santos and Viviana Salcedo.Meanwhile, Claudia Baselice, Kanu Patel and Luis Diaz – the only incumbent in the race – are the three candidates running with the support of Sacco. RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Wainstein, Sacco camps trade blows over early school dismissals for BOE election DeGise: Hudson County ‘determined’ to get out of ICE contract following Essex decision Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter TAGSlarry wainsteinnick sacconorth bergen board of educationsave our schools SHARE By John Heinis – April 21, 2017 5:14 pm 0 Previous articleELEC: DeFusco nets $89k, Zimmer $29k, Bhalla $87k in Hoboken fundraisingNext articleEnvironmentally friendly group Rounds 2 Resources hosts Earth Day party John Heinis Bayonne Hudson County commissioners discuss exiting ICE deal, advocates call for no new jail contracts Facebook Twitter ElectionsNorth Bergen/Guttenberg Community Jersey City POBA elects new president and his leadership team to three-year termslast_img read more

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Hotel union shuttering two employee health centers

first_img Full Name* Richard Maroko with Brooklyn Health Center & Pharmacy and Harlem Health Center & Pharmacy (New York Hotel Trades Council, Google Maps, Cornell)UPDATED, Oct. 1, 5:39 p.m.: Thousands of New York City hotel workers have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. Now, their union is being forced to slash operations  at the health services it built for its members.The New York Hotel Trades Council is shutting down two of its employee health centers — including the $120 million Brooklyn facility it opened in 2017 — it runs with the hotel owners association and reducing operations at four others in Manhattan and Queens, according to a notice with the state Department of Labor. The other center it’s closing is in Harlem.A spokesperson for the Hotel Trades Council, however, said that operations at the Queens center will not be reduced, but staff will be shifted to the center. The reductions come after the Hotel Association of New York, which represents owners, reduced contributions due to layoffs.The reductions will impact 642 health center employees at those locations.The move is a significant blow to the powerful hotel union, which has long been able to provide good-paying jobs for its roughly 40,000 working-class members through tough negotiations with hotel owners to secure wage increases and valuable health benefits.Those members, in turn, have worked to form a substantial political organization that has made the Hotel Trades Council one of the most politically powerful unions in the city and the state. That’s helped it push for legislation benefiting its members such as restrictions that effectively curtail the development of non-union hotels.The HTC operates its health fund along with the Hotel Association of New York, whose members make contributions to the health fund. Those contributions have been cut back along with the layoffs.A representative for the Hotel Association of New York did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Highgate hotels, the largest owner and operator of hotel rooms in the city, declined to comment when asked how layoffs were impacting contributions to the health fund.The most recently available tax documents for the nonprofit health fund show it had $367.2 million worth of assets in 2018, up from $363.8 million the year before.In addition to the Brooklyn health center at 265 Ashland Place that it opened three years ago and is now set to close, it broke ground last year on a new $75 million center in Queens. The Harlem center is located at 133 Morningside Avenue.Peter Ward, who had served as the head of the union for more than four decades, abruptly stepped down in August in the midst of what is arguably the most challenging period in the union’s history. HTC general counsel Richard Maroko succeeded him as president.Contact Rich Bockmann Message* Email Address* This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

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Faith alone: How one Manhattan congregation got caught in HFZ’s downfall

first_img Full Name* Contact Keith Larsen Email Address* Full Name* Message*center_img Email Address* A rendering of HFZ Capital Group’s proposed tower next to Marble Collegiate Church on 29th Street. (Illustration by Kevin Rebong/The Real Deal)Below the spire of Marble Collegiate Church lays a barren hole with construction tools, fire extinguishers and ladders hastily stacked around the edges. Three cranes excavating the West 29th Street site have been abandoned. A sign on a fence directs congregants, “confessions this way,” with an arrow pointing to the sanctuary.HFZ Capital Group had planned to build a boutique office tower at the NoMad location aimed at technology and media tenants, before the developer’s multibillion-dollar real estate portfolio started to unravel.HFZ CEO Ziel Feldman (Getty)But the money pit isn’t just HFZ’s cross to bear. The nearly 400-year-old Marble Collegiate Church, the oldest Protestant church in the country, entered into a joint venture with Ziel Feldman’s firm several years ago. And now that HFZ has defaulted on one of the project’s loans, the church’s investment is set to be wiped out alongside its partner’s in foreclosure.That’s a financial blow to the church, and it’s also a warning to other mission-based organizations — even those like Marble Collegiate with sophisticated real estate operations — that are sitting on valuable properties and thinking about getting into risky real estate developments.“We counsel nonprofits on this stuff all the time,” said Paul Wolf, co-founder of the brokerage Denham Wolf. “Typically, we say don’t take a risk that could jeopardize the core mission.”Wolf, who is not involved in the project, added that Marble Collegiate has an experienced real estate arm that’s done development projects before, but never one that got so deep underwater.“They just got caught by this,” he said.Fellowship then foreclosureThe real estate industry’s appetite for these kinds of projects involving church properties was at its height around 2015, when HFZ inked a joint-venture agreement with Marble Collegiate to develop its site.“Many other developers had tried for years to do a deal with the church,” HFZ’s Feldman told the Wall Street Journal in 2015. “We came in with a great land cost, and find the site to be fantastic. The church itself is easy to work with, and the physical structure is a beautiful cornerstone for building.”Feldman did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Marble Collegiate also did not respond.HFZ’s plans first called for a 64-story residential tower. But by 2019 the developer had shifted to a 600,000-square-foot, 34-story office building designed by architect Bjarke Ingels and dubbed 29th & 5th.A rendering of 29th and 5th (Rendering by BIG/HFZ)Marble Collegiate planned to use the money from the development to restore its landmarked building and fund its programs. It would create a fellowship hall and community facility at the base of the tower that would be physically connected to its building. The value of its stake in the joint venture was reported to be around $40 million.Investor documents show the projected value of the development to be $1.3 billion as of 2019, with the developers’ equity stake totaling $238 million, or roughly 18 percent of the total.But as the walls started falling in around HFZ, the company fell behind on its $90.9 million mezzanine loan with the Vanbarton Group, which in December scheduled a UCC foreclosure auction for the project’s equity stake.Experts in the nuances of joint-venture agreements said churches and nonprofits can structure their deals to keep them in a project when the development partner gets taken out through that foreclosure process.But loan documents show Marble Collegiate’s real estate arm is party to the Vanbarton mezzanine loan alongside HFZ, and a source close to the auction said the church’s stake is set to be taken over through the foreclosure.Jeffrey Gilbert, an attorney with the firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Miami who works with real estate attorneys and developers, said foreclosing on church real estate is usually a last resort.“Lenders don’t want to be the bad guy foreclosing on a house of worship generally, it’s a PR issue that you don’t want to turn into a nightmare,” Gilbert said.A representative for Vanbarton declined to comment.In addition to its long history in New York, Marble Collegiate has attracted attention for its high-profile members and leadership.Celebrity congregationLiza Minnelli and David Gest tied the knot at the church during a star-studded ceremony in 2002, where A-listers like Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross filtered from Fifth Avenue into the Neo-Romanesque Gothic building.Liza Minnelli and Marble Collegiate Church (Getty)It’s probably best known for longtime pastor Norman Vincent Peale, author of the influential book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” who in 1977 officiated the wedding of Donald and Ivana Trump. Peale died in 1993.Donald Trump had been a longtime member, attending the church for decades with his parents. And when questions about his religious devotion surfaced during the 2016 presidential election cycle, Trump told reporters he attended Marble Collegiate.“Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, was my pastor,” Trump said during the Republican primaries in 2015. “To this day one of the great speakers I’ve seen. You hated to leave church. You hated when the sermon was over.”The church quickly distanced itself from Trump, but one thing it does have in common with the former president is an eye for real estate.Marble Collegiate runs a real estate arm called Collegiate Asset Management Corp. that for more than two decades was headed by Casey Kemper, a former real estate executive at now-defunct property development firm Olympia & York.The church has acquired a sizable real estate portfolio across Manhattan since its founding in 1628, four years after the Dutch settled New Amsterdam. It gets its name from the white marble quarried in Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County and used on its current home on Fifth Avenue. It moved there from Lower Manhattan in 1854.Over the years, Marble Collegiate has used some of its properties to generate revenue and support its mission, and it hasn’t shied away from flexing its real estate muscle.In the early 2000s, for example, Kemper partnered with Olympia’s successor, Brookfield Properties, with the intention of developing parcels where the original church had stood. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority later condemned the site then seized it under eminent domain to make way for the Fulton Street Transit Center.In 2018, the real estate arm sold properties next to its West End Collegiate Church on West 78th Street for $158 million to Alchemy Properties’ Ken Horn, which planned to develop a 19-story residential condominium tower.Collegiate Asset Management’s tax filings show that from 2014 to 2017, the book value of its assets swelled from about $395 million to almost $545 million.Officials have said its real estate activities were always designed to aid the church’s mission.”The purpose of our being landlords is to support our four churches — their programs and their benevolences for the community,” Kemper told the New York Times in 2001. ”That’s why we’re in the real estate business.”Kemper’s real estate arm had been assembling sites near church headquarters on 29th Street and Fifth Avenue, and by 2006 the investment platform was marketing the entire property as a development site for a 277,000-square foot hotel and timeshare.Around that time, Marble Collegiate wasn’t the only nonprofit looking to cash in on its real estate. As the city’s real estate market caught fire through the early- to mid-2000s, numerous religious institutions and mission-oriented organizations looked to leverage properties they owned.Many sold their properties to real estate developers — some relocated to far-flung corners of the city — while others stuck around to take part in the upside through partnerships.Savills broker David Carlos, who specializes in advising nonprofits, said he always warned his clients of the dangers of venturing into real estate development.“I’m a big proponent of them taking as little risk as possible because, just by definition they are not developers,” he said. “To have an entity that is a nonprofit or mission-based entity participate like a very high-risk developer, their missions just aren’t aligned. I don’t think the organization is built for it.”Kemper retired from Collegiate Asset Management in 2018, and was succeeded by Dan Lehman, a former C-suite officer at the nonprofit Children’s Aid New York. Neither executive responded to requests for comment.Investing with faithThe church isn’t the only investor with skin in HFZ’s game that’s set to lose out on its contribution to the NoMad project.Beny Steinmetz (Getty)Israeli billionaire and diamond mogul Beny Steinmetz reportedly has a loan on the project. In January, Steinmetz was sentenced to 5 years in a Swiss prison for paying bribes to a public official in the West African country of Guinea in order to secure rights to an iron ore mine.The Brazilian mining company Vale alleges Steinmetz laundered money through New York City real estate projects by HFZ and RFR Realty. It has asked Manhattan’s federal court to probe the developers’ projects — including the Marble Collegiate JV — to uncover the alleged loans.HFZ has on several occasions denied any involvement with Steinmetz.Feldman also pulled in money for the church property project from individual Chinese investors who participated in the cash-for-visas EB-5 program. Those investors put about $63 million into the project as preferred equity — an investment that provides a return similar to that of a loan but doesn’t have the security in the form of collateral that debt vehicles offer.That preferred equity stake is also set to get taken out in the UCC foreclosure action. In most of the recent UCC foreclosures in New York City, the mezzanine lender often credit bids the debt it’s owed and takes over the property, which in this case would put Vanbarton Group in the driver’s seat.Vanbarton could develop the Marble Collegiate property itself or partner up with another builder to someday fill the empty pit and build the skyscraper, but the church likely won’t have anything to do with it.Contact Rich Bockmann Message*last_img read more

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Derek Trucks Gets Allman Brothers Band Initiating Mushroom Tattoo

first_imgEdit this setlist | More The Allman Brothers Band setlists One of the lesser known traditions of the Allman Brothers Band family is to get the band’s classic mushroom insignia as a tattoo. To date, all of the band’s members, excluding Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes are marked with the ink. That all changed last week, as Derek finally got his tattoo. Why? Because Jaimoe told him to get it.The tradition dates back to 1971, when the entirety of the band opted to get the same tattoo in San Francisco. Now, as the band’s legacy comes to an end, Derek, who Jaimoe refers to as “Young Blood,” is joining into that tradition.The whole scene was documented by Alan Paul, a longtime Allman Brothers Band biographer who recently released One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers. (More info). You can read his entire first-hand account via his website.The band members proudly looked on, as Uncle Butch Trucks encouraged his nephew to uphold this tradition. The tattoo artist simply commented, “easy job, intimidating setting.” It is the Allman Brothers, after all. Will Warren be the final member to undertake the mushroom legacy?The Allman Brothers Band are in the midst of their closing run at the Beacon Theatre. Check out the setlists from their first two performances, courtes of setlist.fm:Edit this setlist | More The Allman Brothers Band setlistslast_img read more

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Inaugural Main Street Grants will help fund seven downtown projects

first_imgNational Life Group,Vermont Business Magazine Seven communities around Vermont were announced on Tuesday as the inaugural winners of Main Street Grants(link is external), a program the National Life Group Foundation(link is external) created in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation(link is external). The grants include funding for signs to guide visitors through downtowns, renovation of a community center, and updating a historic performance space. In all, $85,500 in grants were awarded to Barre, Bennington, Montpelier, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Waterbury, and Wilmington. The National Life Foundation provided $70,500 of the funding and the Vermont Community Foundation provided $15,000.“We’re delighted to be able to support the exciting things happening in Vermont downtowns,” said Beth Rusnock, president of the National Life Foundation. “The projects that we’ll help fund will drive the local economy, support local culture and help to foster the civic pride that Vermonters take in their communities.”“The heart of community is a sense of common experience,” said Dan Smith, president of the Vermont Community Foundation. “Vermont should be proud of the work going on across the state to design energetic downtown spaces that bring people together, foster connections and build community. We are excited to be partnering with National Life in exploring how to bring together people and resources to make a difference for these downtowns.”There were applications for 29 different projects across the state. National Life partnered with the Preservation Trust of Vermont(link is external) to analyze the projects and recommend funding. In addition to contributing toward the grants, the Vermont Community Foundation is reviewing all of the applications to determine whether they might qualify for additional future funding.“I appreciate the support of National Life Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation in launching these new Main Street Grants,” said Governor Scott. “Revitalizing Vermont’s downtowns and villages is crucial to strengthening Vermont’s economy, and I am so thankful for the incredible state, local, public and private partnerships working to build stronger, more vibrant communities.”The winning projects were announced at a news conference with Governor Phil Scott at the annual Downtown Day at the Statehouse. The grant winners are:Barre: Creation of a historical walking tour of downtown and a bicycling tour that connects to Upper Graniteville. The project includes historical plaques, brochures and website. $5,500.Bennington: The Grow Bennington Initiative is designed to create greater vibrancy in the town center with a variety of projects, including plantings, signs, a park and, year-round lighting of trees to make the downtown more visually appealing, safer and vibrant. $5,500.Montpelier: Phase 2 of a “wayfinding” project to manufacture and install signs that will help to guide downtown visitors to landmarks, historic sites and other places in the downtown. $9,000.St. Albans: Continue renovating the City Hall Auditorium into a modern performance space with new sound and lighting equipment, curtains, and a repaired and extended stage. $15,000.St. Johnsbury: Enhancements of Depot Square Park to create gathering spaces with benches and tables, sculpted bike racks, art installations and signs, and community events. $20,000.Waterbury: Projects to make Waterbury’s downtown a “bike-friendly” community with bicycle racks, improved signs directing riders to downtown from attractions outside the business core, and bike wash and repair stations. $5,500.Wilmington: Renovate the lobby and reception area of the former Twin Valley High School building into the Old School Enrichment Center community center to make it handicap accessible, and improve directional signs, and to attract future social service, educational, wellness and community organizations as tenants. $25,000.“Strong, dynamic downtowns and villages, coupled with housing working families and young professionals can afford are critical to my Administration’s work to strengthen and grow Vermont’s economy,” said Scott. “The work to revitalize Vermont’s downtowns and villages is a team sport, so I truly appreciate the growing number of state, local, public and private partners who are working to build stronger, more vibrant communities.”In January, Scott proposed several initiatives that build upon the successful $37 million housing bond(link is external) proposed and passed last year, aimed at introducing more affordable workforce housing throughout the state. These initiatives are currently included in H. 766(link is external).Key provisions of H. 766 include:Allocates $625,000 to pilot a new homeowner tax credit to improve the quality and quantity of housing in and around Vermont’s designated downtowns and villages;Increases investment in the downtown and village center tax credit program by $250,000; andInvests an additional $125,000 for the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) tax credit to fund its Down Payment Assistance Program for first-time homebuyers.“I appreciate the Legislature’s work to advance my housing proposals, which invest $1 million in tax credits to attract and house the young families Vermont’s economy needs to thrive,” added Scott. “Representatives Fred Baser, William Botzow and Michael Marcotte have helped lead the charge, and my Administration looks forward to our continued collaboration on this work.”At his press conference, the Governor also showcased the contributions of the 23 state-designated downtown communities. In the past year, the 23 state-designated downtown communities have documented nearly $59 million in public and private investment, 127 new housing units, 47 new and expanded businesses, and more than 200 new jobs have been created within the downtown districts.  The Agency of Commerce and Community Development(link is external) administers the state designation programs(link is external), which target investments to build strong communities and promote the efficient use of land, infrastructure and resources. Nearly 170 community centers are designated (downtowns(link is external) and villages(link is external)), allowing them to receive priority consideration for state grants and access to state tax incentives.Click here for additional information on the proposed tax credits(link is external).  Source: NationalLife.com(link is external). 3.13.2018last_img read more

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Omar Mireles named president of HSL Properties

first_imgAfter more than a decade of significantly contributing to the success of HSL Properties, Inc., and remaining dedicated to the company’s growth throughout Arizona, Omar Mireles has been named President of the accomplished development company. He will replace HSL’s current President, Humberto S. Lopez, who has led the company since 1975 and will remain Chairman of the Board.On Lopez’s 70th birthday, December 1, the HSL reins are passing into the more than capable hands of Omar Mireles, current Executive Vice President. Mireles hails from Nogales, but spent much of his childhood in Tucson living with and learning from his uncle, HSL Co-Founder Humberto S. Lopez. Mireles graduated from Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, before heading to New York to attend Cornell University, where he studied Policy Analysis of Consumer Economics and Housing.After he graduated from Cornell, Mireles served a successful stint as an analyst in the Real Estate Finance Group of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in New York. Following the company’s merger with Credit Suisse First Boston, he moved onto the company’s Real Estate Finance and Securitization Group. In 2001 and 2002 he received recognition as the most valuable team player while heading the underwriting team in the CSFB Small Balance Loan Program and working on their real estate credit committee.In 2003, Mireles joined HSL as Executive Vice President, where he manages the company’s property portfolio worth more than $800 million, which includes acquisitions, dispositions, financing, and development. He has structured and negotiated over $500 million in real estate transactions and more than $300 million in loan transactions for HSL. Mireles heads the property development team and is president of HSL Asset Management, LLC, the company’s project management arm, which Mireles was instrumental in building into a thriving and successful part of HSL Properties.According to Co-Founder and former HSL President, Lopez, “Omar’s vision and drive were clear from the outset. When he joined HSL twelve years ago, he spearheaded the expansion of the organization. His leadership was vital in the creation of the construction company. With the asset management group, Omar proved at every turn that bringing this part of the business in-house was the best choice. It only took him three years to transfer the management of all HSL properties from their third-party management agents to our internal team. We know we are in good hands with Omar.”“The team at HSL is unmatched,” said Glenn Toyoshima, Executive Officer of HSL Properties. “They have astonishing vision and an enviable drive which will continue to propel HSL Properties through this transition and the next 40 years. Omar Mireles is an impressive leader who has taken up every challenge with grace and skill. He has helped build HSL into the company it is today and led this incredible team to new heights for the past decade. We all have complete faith that he will continue in the same dedicated fashion,” added Toyoshima.Mireles is not just committed to the growth and development of HSL Properties, but also to building growth in Arizona. He serves on the board of the Downtown Tucson Partnership and on the advisory board for Bank of Tucson. He is on the Board of Directors of Sun Corridor, Inc., formerly the Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc., a bi-national economic development organization focused on making an impact on the quality of life and competitiveness of businesses in the region. In 2012, Omar was named Man of the Year by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.Striking a careful balance of work and family, Mireles also serves on the board of directors of his alma mater, Salpointe Catholic High School, and Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, which serves grieving children in our community—serving those impacted by serious medical conditions and death, as well as their families.For the last 40 years, Humberto Lopez and Glenn Toyoshima have invested in and developed properties in the Southwestern United States as HSL Properties. The company now owns and operates a multimillion dollar portfolio including more than 10,000 apartment units in 41 apartment complexes throughout Arizona, making them the state’s largest apartment owner. The local business also owns three Tucson resorts.last_img read more

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Bicycle map of the island of Hvar presented

first_imgThanks to the joint project of the Tourist Board of Split-Dalmatia County and the Cycling Association of Split-Dalmatia County, and 5 tourist boards of the island of Hvar, the island of Hvar welcomes the season with 470 kilometers and a total of 13 arranged, marked and mapped bike trails. Thus, the island of Hvar, after the Dalmatian hinterland, was the first on the coast to receive a bicycle map with technical descriptions and details, and this information can be found on the newly launched website www.dalmatia-bike.com , which is currently in beta and will soon be available in four languages.Director of the Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board Joško Stella called joint projects destination management in action, which showed the importance of cooperation and coordination between county and island tourist boards, cities and municipalities, with the aim of bringing as many quality guests in pre-season and post-season. are just cyclists.I would especially like to emphasize the togetherness in the field, which is rarely seen, which in my opinion is the greatest value of this project, as well as future cooperation. Personally, I think that this is the key to the development of tourist destinations in the context of joint development through the promotion of the region, and not that each municipality or city is developed, positioned and branded separately. No city has such a capacity in content that the guest is active for more than a few days, while as a region it certainly can. Together they are stronger in every way, and it really means nothing to the guests. Guests want quality content and story and absolutely nothing represents the city this or that – they see the content and destination as Dalmatia, Slavonia, Istria, etc.…The president of the County Cycling Association, Denis Špadina, pointed out that he expressed satisfaction with the growth of cycling tourism in the county, since two years ago it did not have a single marked trail. Today, the figures show 70 2250-kilometer-long trails, seven official bicycle races and an annual income of 2m euros, and ambitious plans herald the approach of Istria, the leader in cycling tourism in Croatia.With bicycle maps of the island of Hvar and websites www.dalmatia-bike.com, the long-awaited brochure of the island of Hvar, also a joint project of five island tourist boards, was presented to the public. This brochure presents the island as a destination, and a circulation of 10 copies in five languages ​​is currently being distributed.Everyone is invited to get involved in the project, design their offer, connect with each other and find ways to take advantage of the conditions for enriching the offer provided by this project. We all live from the same product, and that is tourism. Let’s get together and tell tourist stories together.last_img read more

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Design competition for King’s Cross gas holder launched

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