Monday, December 28, 2009

Video: a walk around the arena block footprint shows traffic, demolitions, and perspectives from a wide road and a low-rise neighborhood

Early in the afternoon on December 24 I took my camera to shoot some video (bottom) around the footprint slated for the arena block, the western third, more or less, of the site plan.

(December 22 photo of Atlantic Avenue at Fifth Avenue, looking east, by Tracy Collins.)

I wanted to see the new advertising signage erected by Forest City Ratner after the master closing and I wanted to see the impact of the new traffic plan, in which Fifth Avenue is limited to northbound traffic between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, and southbound traffic is diverted to Sixth Avenue.

Bottom line observations

My conclusion: on a high-traffic day, the traffic was pretty bad, with gridlock at Atlantic Avenues going into Fort Greene Place (the northern extension of Fifth Avenue between the Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls), though it was manageable with the help of traffic officers.

That's an interim condition, of course, because Fifth Avenue would be completely demapped, either compounding the problem or provoking new solutions.

(December 22 photo of Fifth Avenue below Atlantic Avenue, looking north, by Tracy Collins.)

Also, a walk around the block offers evidence that can be used by both project opponents and supporters. Yes, the southern border of the site is an intact, low-rise residential community, with houses less than 200 feet away, thus violating zoning, which is why the city's rules would be overridden by the Empire State Development Corporation, with the city's assent.

And the remaining parts of Dean Street, despite demolitions, attest to the residential character of the block--a reason why AY supporter Roger Green, then an Assemblyman, declared that the neighborhood was not blighted. Some of Pacific Street is still residential, but there have been many more demolitions of industrial buildings.

Then again, the completed demolitions have left empty lots that serve as an argument for building something. And the Vanderbilt Yard, at the northern border of the arena block, as well as the now cleared triangular block to the west of it, together border wide Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, could accommodate significant density.

For a look at the existing and demolished buildings, as well as some neighboring buildings, see Tracy Collins's collection.

(December 22 photo of Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, looking east, by Tracy Collins.)

The route

My route began on Sixth Avenue just south of Flatbush Avenue, the area marked at the bottom right of the map, then proceeded to Dean Street, the next marking, then west to Flatbush, up to Atlantic, east to Sixth, and back down to Dean.

Note that the map derived from the site plan, at right, shows Fifth Avenue already demapped, though it hasn't happened yet. See Tracy Collins's map, below, part of his collection of AY maps.

Before the video, some notes

On Sixth Avenue between Bergen and Dean Streets, two row houses are for sale. One of the houses, on the southwest corner of Dean and Sixth, has been on the block for a while, but the other is newer to the market.

While the houses might be attractive, say, to someone wanting a pied a terre near the arena, the foot and auto traffic, if/when the arena is built, would make Sixth Avenue a much, much busier street.
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Also note that, while Forest City Ratner has demolished two buildings across Dean Street east of Sixth Avenue, leading to construction trailers, the state has deferred plans for eminent domain on the three adjacent occupied row houses.

The Barclays Center signage is not wrapped around all the arena footprint block, just the western part of it, the triangle bounded by Fifth, Flatbush, and Atlantic avenues

The video is not continuous; I had to edit segments to fit it within the ten-minute limit set by YouTube.

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