Thursday, July 16, 2009

No renderings or site plan for Atlantic Yards (until September?), but the ESDC suggests a reoriented arena is just a "minor change"

When the board of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) met June 23 to "adopt"--the first state of the approval process--the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) for Atlantic Yards, it was notable that there were no renderings of the project, given that the boardroom was chock full of renderings when the project was first passed in December 2006.

The rendering at right, which leaked to the press, is unofficial (though, as a reader points out, similar renderings--here and here--were released last month).

No Site Plan

Even more disconcertingly, there's no new Site Plan for the project--yet, and thus no opportunity to discuss whether a reoriented arena could lead to other changes, such as rescinding the planned closure of Fifth Avenue.

Page 46 of the new GPP promises
Exhibit A-1
Project Site Plan
(attached)


But there's no attachment. "The Site Map you’re inquiring about is located on page 48," ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell responded.

She's right, but it's confusing. Page 47 of the new GPP promises a Project Block and Lot Map but on the next page there is indeed a Site Plan (right)--in fact, it's the same Site Plan that appeared in the 2006 GPP.

Minor change?

As the rendering at the top suggests, the Site Plan has changed. "My understanding is that the arena is now configured more on a north-south basis and Building 1 is not placed in the same way (among other things)," I responded, asking for clarification.

(The plan from Frank Gehry placed the arena at an angle, but preliminary renderings by new arena architect Ellerbe Becket point the arena directly at Atlantic Avenue.)

Not until September?

Mitchell replied, "There has been a minor change to the Site Plan since the MGPP. However we don’t have a rendering of the latest map yet from the developer. We will make it public as soon as we have one, surely before the September Board meeting."

That suggests that the new map of the site will not be made available before the July 29 public hearing or before the comment period on the MGPP closes some 30 days after the hearing, not to mention the July 22 meeting in which Forest City Ratner representatives will answer written questions.

Isn't that a little backwards? Isn't a reorientation of the arena more than a "minor change"? And wouldn't the towers be significantly less integrated into the arena? 

As I wrote last month, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), in its testimony on the project (graphic at right),  suggested that, with a north-south re-orientation of the arena, Fifth Avenue could be kept open. Shouldn't that be part of the discussion?

The arena has, in fact, been reoriented, as the graphic at top suggests, but there's been no evidence that the ESDC is reconsidering the closure of Fifth Avenue.

The Block and Lot Map

The Block and Lot Map, which is promised on p. 47 of the MGGP, appears in the current MGPP on p. 57-58 (Attachment B). It is the same as the Block and Lot Map that appeared in 2006.

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