Monday, June 03, 2013

The buildout sequence was graphically confirmed in 2009 and 2010, before economy turned; state offered fig leaf for Forest City's plan to delay expensive deck

Plan from 2006 Draft Design Guidelines
When Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner last October changed the construction sequence for the residential towers--planning to build four towers on the southeast parking lot block after the arena block, rather than first building a deck over the railyard--I pointed out that that had not been the indicated sequence.

After all, the November 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) indicated that the three towers in the western section of Phase Two--along the railyard between Sixth Avenue and Carlton Avenue--would be built before the seven towers to the east, between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenue.

And that continued after the project was re-approved in 2009; according to the ESDC's December 2010 Technical Analysis, "Development of each site is still generally expected to occur from west to east in a clockwise direction, starting with the arena block."

The buildout initially was to be clockwise, not the
leapfrog (now planned) indicated by the arrow
What I didn't include were the 2009 and 2010 graphics confirming that.

State fig leaf for Forest City plans

What does it all mean? Even in 2009-2010, when the economy was still emerging from deep trouble, the state government still signaled in at least some documents that the deck would be built promptly. That means the blight of the below-grade railyard would have been removed.

Now that the economy is better, and residential construction in Brooklyn is hot, Forest City has no plans to build the deck.

In fact, for Forest City's business purposes, as explained this past March, it has revised the notion of Atlantic Yards Phase 1. It includes the arena block and the southeast block--the parcels demarcated in red. That definition does not appear on any government documents.

Versus the Development Agreement

Of course, Forest City doesn't have to build the platform (or deck) over the railyard immediately. . The multiple environmental review documents regarding the buildout sequence were contradicted by the Development Agreement signed in late 2009.

The developer has 15 years to start construction of the platform. Neither the ESDC's June 2009 Technical Memorandum nor December 2010 Technical Analysis made mention of that fact.

And the Development Agreement requires construction of one residential building on the southeast block, Block 1129, within ten years of the Project Effective Date (which was May 2010). That hints that construction might come before the deck.

Now, assuming that Forest City Ratner's plans succeed in getting a modular construction factory up and running, it looks like three towers around the arena will be completed in the next four to six years, and  tower construction on the southeast block could easily begin--and perhaps be well in progress--before 2020.
From June 2009 Technical Memorandum

The indicated sequence: 2009

The environmental review documents, at least, suggested that the deck would be built to support towers over the railyard.

The June 2009 Technical Memorandum contained the table at right.

It showed showed that the expensive platforms for Block 1120 (the railyard between Sixth and Carlton) and Block 1121 (the railyard between Carlton and Vanderbilt) would be built well before Buildings 11-14 would go up on "terra firma," as Forest City puts it.

The Technical Memorandum was issued as part of the re-approval of the project.

The indicated sequence: 2010

After a lawsuit challenged the environmental review, the ESDC in December 2010 produced a Technical Analysis (Part 1, 2, 3) further confirming the anticipated sequence.

The graphics clearly illustrate, if not a clockwise movement, an eastward one. First there's work on the arena block, plus Site 5 across Flatbush Avenue, along with work on the railyard.

Then came a deck over the first railyard segment, along with Building 15, between Dean and Pacific streets east of Sixth Avenue. (That building likely will wait, because it requires another round of eminent domain.)

Then, when the development moves east of Vanderbilt Avenue, the construction continues steadily east, with one tower first built on the parking lot block, but then a section of the deck built to support a tower.

That process continues, according to the graphic.

While the graphical sequence suggested a steady march from west to east, the Development Agreement offered another option: wait to build that expensive deck. That proved more amenable to Forest City Ratner's business purposes.

2 comments:

  1. I have a question about Building Six, which i presume here is "B6."

    Has Building 6 been built? Is it unfinished? Is it going to get taller in the 2014-2016 Revised Construction Phasing?

    I ask because a local artist has made it his issue to put limits on the height of Building Six, and I am trying to figure out if his battle is already lost, or still waging. Richard F. Kessler's cause is to protect what he calls "the Brooklyn Mirador,' the view to the Empire State Building as seen through the arch at Grand Army. According to Kessler, Building Six will block this view. (Richard F. Kessler: http://thebrooklynmirador.com/)

    Looking at the drawings you've provided in this blog post, B6 is teal, for "newly built," or white/gray, for "previously built."
    So, if B6 is already built, is the damage done? Does it block the view?
    Are there plans (in the "Revised Phase") to make it taller, and by 2016 will it block the view?

    Adding to my confusion, THIS report tells me the status of Building Six is "unbuilt [cancelled]." http://www.emporis.com/building/atlanticyardsbuilding6-newyorkcity-ny-usa

    The view to the Empire State Building is visible seasonally. Right now, the trees at Bailey Fountain (just behind the arch) are too thick with foliage, but come November one will be able see it-- unless Building Six already stands in the way.

    ::Aside, Kessler's research is very, very unreliable. He might be off about the part that its Building Six threatening the view. Maybe it's another one of the buildings...::

    Thanks for helping me sort this out. Basically I am trying to find out, are Kessler's claims accurate? Is there a building underway that would be as tall as to block the view? Or is it already built? Or is there no such threat to the 'Brooklyn Mirador' ? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. No towers have been built yet. B2, at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, is under construction.

      B6 has not been canceled. Nothing's been canceled, though B1, the office tower at Atlantic and Flatbush, is clearly on hold.

      I don't know whether B6 would block the view, but I would caution that any planned/proposed tower in the Atlantic Yards project is subject to change.

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