Skip to main content

Jeffries: ESDC's traffic/transit plans still need work

Residents of Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Prospect Heights attending a Mass Transportation Community Speak Out last night sponsored by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries had a lot of things on their minds, including infrequent subway service, bus clustering, and mysteriously protracted street renovations.

But the pressure of new development was a backdrop to the concerns and Atlantic Yards, the biggest planned such development, came in for some special criticism. Meredith Staton, a member of the Community Board 8 Transportation Committee and, overall, a project supporter, scoffed at plans to demap streets to create Atlantic Yards superblocks.

"If you close down Fifth Avenue, it's a bad plan," he said, before about 50 people at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene. Fifth Avenue is scheduled to be closed between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, but, he said, "you can't make those turns off Flatbush" (rather than Fifth).

As for making more use of Sixth Avenue, the narrow street that would serve as the eastern border of the arena block, Staton said, "the Sixth Avenue plan is ridiculous.. I don't see how you can expand it." Rather, he added, "We need to open up some of the streets." That, of course, is not part of developer Forest City Ratner's plan.

ESDC unprepared?

Jeffries told the audience that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state agency supervising Atlantic Yards, on Friday hosted a meeting that included a representative of his office and City Council Member David Yassky, who, with Jeffries, had previously expressed concerns about traffic and transit impacts. Also present were representatives of local community boards.

"They clearly have not done a good enough job" preparing for the impacts, he said, adding, "We're going to bring them here [to Brooklyn] to talk about traffic and transportation."

After the meeting, Jeffries elaborated on his concerns. He speculated that the pending litigation challenging the ESDC's environmental review may have led the agency to be "less than forthcoming." Among other things, the lawsuit calls the ESDC's traffic and transportation analysis inadequate.

He said he had not gotten "adequate answers" concerning the ESDC's response to two "new realities," including the acknowledgment that subway stations in Downtown Brooklyn are at capacity and Mayor Mike Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, which could put additional pressure on neighborhoods like Fort Greene that already attract commuters.

Jeffries supports the concept of congestion pricing but won't support the mayor's plan unless neighborhood parking permits are instituted. Otherwise, he said, "Our communities are in danger of becoming parking lots."

Downtown Brooklyn at capacity

It was already widely believed that Downtown Brooklyn stations were at capacity; the lawsuit challenging the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) alleges (p. 58) that the FEIS "understates the present conditions of dangerous overcrowding on subway platforms and the likelihood that such conditions could be exacerbated upon Project completion particularly arena events." (The case, argued in May, is still pending.)

As I previously noted, Joe Chan of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said at a community meeting in November, “Our mass transit system is pretty much at capacity when we look at linkages between Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan.” And Kenn Lowy of Community Board 2's Transportation Committee has pointed out that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2004 said that the Downtown Brooklyn stations were at capacity.

Jeffries pointed out that corporations creating business plans reassess them in light of changed external factors; similarly, he said, the ESDC should do so. Local legislators, he said, likely will have to pressure the agency.

In April, he and Yassky sent a letter to the ESDC calling for various changes regarding traffic and transit; several had already been agreed to by the agency and Forest City Ratner, while others had been rejected in the FEIS.

FG isolation

Fort Greene resident and anti-Atlantic Yards activist Lucy Koteen said that more and more streets around or bordering the neighborhood are being temporarily or permanently closed. "Fort Greene is getting more isolated, in terms of automobiles," she said. "We're going to be trapped."

"In terms of streets being demapped, we don't have a lot of control," acknowledged Christopher Hrones, the Department of Transportation's Downtown Brooklyn Transportation Coordinator. "As this area gets developed, it's going to get harder and harder to get around in automobiles."

MTA $

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Andy Inglesby announced that a hearing on proposed fare and toll hikes would be held at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn at 6 pm on November 5. Some residents last night did complain about rising fares.

And Schellie Hagan of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition had a proposal. "The MTA is basically giving away the Vanderbilt Yards," she said, arguing that the real value was well above that bid by Forest City Ratner for the key component of the Atlantic Yards footprint.

"Thank you," responded Jeffries cordially, as he did to other questions that weren't quite in his power to resolve.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…