Friday, March 16, 2012

Greening the planned surface parking lot? Maybe, maybe not, as Forest City says it's trying to shrink the capacity (and avoid stackers)

Can the enormous surface parking lot planned for the southeast block of the Atlantic Yards site be made smaller, greener, and more community friendly? Maybe, but Forest City Ratner isn't ready to make any promises.

Last week, at a meeting of the Transportation Focus Group, Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council suggested several improvement, notably interior landscaping, that would ensure that the parking lot meets the standards set forth in 2007 by the City Planning Commission. However, the project was approved in 2006, and the state overrides city zoning.

(Veconi points out that, when the General Project Plan was re-approved in 2009, it repeated the overrides from 2006, but did not justify or disclose an override of the recently-emerged surface parking design requirements. To allow such overrides to continue would suggest that future changes to Atlantic Yards would have to be evaluated in the regulatory context of 2006, no matter what changes in the city codes.)

The presentation, said Forest City's Jane Marshall yesterday at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, "was very helpful," with a lot of good ideas. "Some may be achievable, some may be not."

She said that there will be landscaping, fencing, and drainage--and the lot will be set back four feet from property line.

"I understand the desire for people to have something fancy inside the lot, or something green inside the lot," Marshall said, somehow setting the city standard as "something fancy." She added, "As you know, we don't have to do that... It doesn't mean we don't think it's a great idea if we can do it. So we're considering all those ideas."

"If we cannot reduce the number of spaces, none of those inside ideas about landscaping are possible," said Marshall.

Under the project's original schedule, the lot was supposed to hold 900 spaces and last a handful of years, before it was replaced by an underground lot. However, it was increased to 1100 spaces and could last, at least in part, well over a decade.

Open questions: zoning, operator, stackers

James asked whether the lot was subject to city oversight. Marshall said no. "When the project was adopted, two things happened, zoning regulations regarding parking as well as well as bulk and use were overridden, and a set of design guidelines that were written by Amanda Burden were put into place."

Actually, Burden's department did not write the guidelines. They came from architect Frank Gehry's office.

Has an operator of the lot been designated? Not yet, said Marshall.

"The original GPP [General Project Plan] never anticipated 1100 cars parking on that site," James pointed out.

Marshall disagreed, saying that it "originally anticipated more than 1100 cars, because there would be a garage below grade."

That's a bit of apples and oranges. Yes, that site is ultimately supposed to house a larger underground parking facility. But originally it was supposed to have 944 cars over ground.

Will stackers be used?

"That's why we want to reduce the number of parking spaces," Marshall replied. In RFPs sent to potential operators, the latter are told there could be a range of spaces, up to 1100, and the latter would  require stackers. "We're trying everything we can to avoid that."

(Here's coverage in the New York Post.)

Demand management plan

Marshall added that Block 1129, and the bed of Pacific Street, will remain important for construction staging activities. "We hope we're coming back with a proposal to community, in May, not just for the parking lot but the other elements of demand management."

She said Forest City was in discussions with the New York City Transit Authority and Long Island Rail Road. "They are actively considering what would be good to support the arena," she said, adding, "and in May, we want to give you a full update on where we are with them." She said they'd also report onthe status of plans for offsite remote parking.

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for greener planning but as a local resident who is already challenged by the limited parking, I prefer that the stadium builds enough parking spaces to accommodate the visitors! This will also keep these crowds from disrupting the surrounding neighborhoods.

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