Skip to main content

Council Members call February 24 public meeting on street closings; FCR and DOT reps will appear; Dean Street Block Association raises concerns

Those concerned about street closures (plan at bottom, by Forest City Ratner consultant Sam Schwartz Engineering( in the Atlantic Yards footprint will get another chance to query representatives of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and FCR at a public meeting at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 85 South Oxford Street in Fort Greene on Wednesday, February 24, from 6-8 pm.

The meeting was arranged by City Council Member Letitia James, who represents the district (35) that includes the AY footprint, along with the Council Members who represent adjoining districts: Brad Lander (39) and Steve Levin (33).

It is co-sponsored by Community Boards 2, 6 & 8. Along with representatives of the developer and DOT, the Empire State Development Corporation's AY Ombudsman, Forrest Taylor, is expected to be in attendance

There have been two previous public meetings, one lightly publicized, and both held about a mile-and-a-half away: one before the Transportation Committee of Community Board 6 and the other before the 78th Precinct Community Council. The church is much closer to the site.

Closures on hold

At the meetings, held last month, representatives of both FCR and DOT assumed that the closures--Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, and Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues and Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues--were on track for February 1.

However, a state judge put condemnations--and thus the closures--on hold, leading to significant confusion and misleading signs regarding whether the streets would actually close.

The dynamic of the February 24 meeting may depend somewhat on whether state Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges has ruled on the condemnations; it's possible that if he upholds the condemnations, the streets will be closed before the meeting.

[Update: A press release from James's office says streets "are now expected to close on March 1." That assumes that Gerges will rule in favor of condemnation before then.]

Concerns expressed to DOT

Some area residents, notably members of the Dean Street Block Association (DSBA), have expressed doubts about the strategies chosen and the level of consultation with the community.

In a letter (below) February 10 sent to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue expressed dismay at the timing and called for "a meaningful period and process for public review and comment" in the future:
Although the plans had a projected implementation date of as soon as February 1st, our community board received these plans including their new details on January 8th. Only a delay in the implementation date of the plans has allowed us time to prepare comments. In the future it is essential the impacted community be provided a meaningful period and process for review and comment on all Atlantic Yards related transportation issues.
The letter called implementation of street closures premature but said that if they go forward, the plans could be improved.

78th Precinct Parking

The letter questioned the placement of of 24 parking spaces for the 78th Precinct and asked for the interim plans for the second phase to be released:
The developer has not released sufficient information across the first phase project construction schedule about the number and programming of surface parking units, or amount of interim open space in the second phase footprint, for the merits of the proposal to be gauged in any way. There is a high degree of risk interim surface parking will be in place longer than anticipated, and may lessen opportunities for the creation of interim open space.
New incentives?

Though there are incentives to reduce driving to the arena, the Empire State Development Corporation concluded that parking must be provided for construction workers:
This research concluded that a substantial number of construction workers would likely travel via auto, irrespective of the abundance of transit options in the area and the costs associated with driving. To avoid overtaxing nearby on- and off-street facilities, the project sponsors would provide on-site (southern half of Block 1129) parking for construction workers at a fee that is comparable to other parking lots/garages in the area.

Still, the DSBA asks:
We believe a meaningful program creating incentives to use transit is consistent with the project goals outlined to the public and should be made available to Precinct employees.
Move parking?

The letter also suggests that the 24 spaces be moved, possibly to the railyard bed or off-site and remote parking such as the Atlantic Center mall parking facility, the HPD parking lot on Dean Street and Metro Tech.

Pacific Street open?

Though the approved project plans state that Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt would be closed, ultimately for open space, the letter says the street should remain a public street and stay open for vehicles and parking.

Carlton Avenue Bridge

The letter states:
The Carlton Avenue Bridge was anticipated to be closed for eight months [AYR: actually nine months, then two years] , however the Department of Transportation has recently announced the bridge may be closed for as much as four years. No reason for this continuing delay has been provided. The total length of time the Carlton Avenue and 6th Avenue bridges together were to be closed was one year and eight months. The Carlton Avenue Bridge is a necessary route for emergency vehicles and a missing link for pedestrians, cars and bicycles. Reconstruction of Carlton Avenue Bridge should be initiated immediately.
Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street changes

The letter also states that Carlton Avenue between Pacific and Dean Streets should not be two-way for as long as two years but ratner Pacific Street should be turned into a one way westbound between Carlton and 6th Avenues.

Construction Traffic

The letter states:
Construction staging for the arena belongs inside the first phase footprint located directly off of two truck routes. Routing construction traffic west and east bound on the one way local Pacific and Dean Streets between 6th and Carlton is unnecessary and should be prohibited.
Street Signage

The letter points to incorrect signage:
The street signs and VMS [variable message signs] for the current street closure were put in place before community comment could be given in full. Incorrect street signs should be removed. VMS take up parking spaces. They should be removed until street closures are implemented.

Atlantic Yards Transportation Plan, by Sam Schwartz Engineering


Popular posts from this blog

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…

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…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…