Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Flashback: the lack of a schedule for Phase 2 was evident when the CPC considered Atlantic Yards

While many people are looking forward, AYR today offers a couple of flashbacks.

On 9/25/06, some two years and four months ago, the City Planning Commission considered a proposed minor scaleback in the size of the Atlantic Yards project. That was orchestrated.

So was a cut in the flagship tower Miss Brooklyn. “We really do believe the height it’s proposed at is really appropriate,” the Department of City Planning's Regina Myer said at the time. I wondered if that set the stage for a negotiated trim at a later date, and that turned out to be true.

Unscheduled Phase 2

But what's striking is how officials and critics pointed to the likelihood that the 11 towers of Phase 2 might not be constructed on schedule.

Is there a commitment for completing Phase 2 in a certain time, Rafael Cestero, Deputy Commissioner for Development at the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), was asked.

“There is no commitment on the time,” he replied, leading me to suggest that, depending on market forces and other factors, the majority of the affordable housing and the open space might not be completed by 2016 as promised. (Cestero has since left HPD, but now may be the front-runner to run the agency, according to the New York Observer.)

After the hearing, Stuart Pertz, a former city planning commissioner who was advising the Municipal Art Society on AY, observed that, given the failure to lock in the second phase, “They could be left with a hole in the ground and a lot of parking.”

Indeed, when the Empire State Development Corporation in September 2007 signed the State Funding Agreement, there was no timetable for Phase 2.

Now there are some empty lots, primed for parking. So Pertz was pretty prescient.

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