Skip to main content

After snowstorm, sidewalks around perimeter of Atlantic Yards site still not cleared; if FCR and LIRR punt, will ESDC make sure something's done?

The presence of numerous un-shoveled sidewalks around the perimeter of the Atlantic Yards site suggests that the new year does not mean that old problems are forgotten.

Much in the same way the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) memorably punted when asked in 2006 if the city or the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) were responsible for "blighted" conditions--weeds and trash--on the sidewalks bordering the Vanderbilt Yard, so too has no agency nor developer Forest City Ratner yet taken responsibility for clearing the sidewalks after the December 26 snowstorm.

Dean Street resident Peter Krashes sent me several pictures take late Thursday afternoon, which depict a situation that remained substantially similar to the one I observed late yesterday afternoon.

At left, for example, is the northeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, looking east along Dean. The owners and residents in the background--the first three houses are slated for Phase 2 of the project--have cleared the sidewalk. However, the sidewalk bordering the lot created by FCR's purchase and demolition of two buildings has not been cleared.

He also made the map below. (Click on graphics to enlarge.)

Along Dean Street

At right is the sidewalk along the north side of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, closer to Vanderbilt, looking west.

This sidewalk borders Block 1129, the block designed for construction staging and, ultimately, lingering surface parking.

Who's in charge?

Krashes said that, last year, after the Dean Street Block Association won a Citizen's Committee for NYC grant to beautify the neighborhood, they asked to meet with LIRR, because of concerns about the sidewalks. ESDC ombudsman Forrest Taylor helped arrange the meeting.

During the meeting, according to Krashes, the LIRR stated that since its umbrella authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is a state agency that operates in many municipalities, it would be onerous for them to be held accountable to the laws of each municipality.

Thus, the MTA can ignore local law and follow its own regulations instead. As a result, he said, the LIRR maintains that they do not have the same responsibility as private property owners to maintain sidewalks adjacent to their properties in NYC.

(In other words, we finally got an answer regarding the source of the blight: inadequate regulations. At left, a photo of the south side of Atlantic Avenue west of Vanderbilt Avenue, looking west.)

Krashes suggested that, had Forest City Ratner not insisted on a change to the project agreements enabling them to purchase rights to the Vanderbilt Yard in stages, then the developer would have been responsible for maintaining the sidewalks from the point they took ownership.

Will someone take responsibility?

Now, he said, because they have delayed purchasing the railyard, they argue they are not responsible. Let's wait to hear a statement from the ESDC and FCR, but I'll point out that the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, signed 12/23/09 by FCR and its affiliates, is silent on sidewalk issues.

If MTA won’t be held responsible, and neither will FCR, suggested Krashes, the ESDC as the project sponsor should solve the problem, as it's their job to coordinate city and state agencies.

Jobs at Atlantic Yards!

Perhaps Forest City Ratner could fulfill some of its commitment to local hiring by spreading a few shekels to people with shovels. Shouldn't they have done that earlier in the week?

(At right, the east side of Sixth Avenue looking north, between Dean and Pacific Streets. This is just around the corner from the first photo up top.)

More photos

Below, a view of one of the most impassible sidewalks: the west side of Vanderbilt Avenue just north of Pacific Street, looking north to Atlantic Avenue. Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues, now a private street used for construction staging, is cleared, and guards are stationed at the entrance.


Below, the north side of Pacific Street just east of Sixth Avenue, looking east.
The Newswalk building is at right.


Below, the south side of Pacific Street at Sixth Avenue, looking east.

Comments

  1. It is important to note that it is not just the sidewalks along the perimeter of the LIRR railyard Forest City Ratner has failed to shovel. They have also not cleared the sidewalks along much of the property they control in the second phase footprint as well.

    It is striking when you walk around how everyone else in the neighborhood has cleared paths for pedestrians and Forest City Ratner controlled properties are mostly neglected.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I noticed that today, walking down Vanderbilt toward Atlantic. We had to walk in the street because the sidewalk was totally unshoveled. But I'm sure the Mayor will make sure that no one fines Ratner for this oversight.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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…

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…

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…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …