Thursday, June 21, 2007

Six-month check: FCR's "initiatives" still murky, but parks funding's a fudge

It's the six-month anniversary (plus a day) of the Atlantic Yards approval by the Public Authorities Control Board, but we still don't know much about the "additional community initiatives and enhanced housing program" announced at the time by developer Forest City Ratner (FCR).

We do know that, when FCR pledged to "invest $3 million to improve existing parks in and around the project," the developer was overstating the case by calling it an "additional" initiative.

After I queried the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the agency confrimed that the sum includes the $1.25 million-plus announced in November to add a comfort station to the Dean Street playground, a partial mitigation for increased noise.

However, a mitigation neither constitutes an enhancement nor an initiative, especially since it surfaced more than a month earlier. (The developer initially offered much less.)

Few details

My January questions to the ESDC hadn't generated details, so a six-month follow-up seemed in order.

There wasn't much more to learn.

FCR announced a reduction to the height of the proposed Miss Brooklyn building, ensuring that no building at the site will be taller than the 512-foot Williamsburg Savings Bank.

What will be that building's revised height and square footage? That has yet to be finalized, according to the ESDC.

FCR announced it will seek to build at least 200 affordable home-owner units on site rather than offsite, making them part of the proposed 6430 units of housing already approved.

When would they be built, and for what income brackets? How is that memorialized? Such details, the ESDC said, will be part of a funding agreement due within the next few weeks and later formalized in project documents before site acquisition.

And what about the "new 21st Century Brooklyn Tech High School"? Would Forest City have any option to acquire the existing Brooklyn Tech building? (Remember, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, any plan to convert the current Brooklyn Tech is off the table.) The ESDC said only that the issue is under discussion.

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