Skip to main content

Draft SEIS is notably cagey about goal of blight removal; provides three construction phasing plans but says they're not predictive

So, what's important in the 132 pages about Atlantic Yards released today in the board materials for tomorrow's meeting of Empire Statement Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, beyond the planned arena green roof I already mentioned?

Well, consider that the Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) understandably indicates that a delayed buildout of Phase 2 of the project until 2035 or so wouldn't cause significant problems.

Is that delayed buildout likely? Unclear. 

According to the ESD, illustrative phasing plans are not supposed to be predictive. In fact, the joint venture documentation with the Chinese government-owned Greenland Group "includes a target construction schedule that is comparable to the duration studied in the 2006 FEIS," or a ten-year buildout.

What about blight?

Still, the DSEIS is notably cagey about one of the main goals of the project, the removal of blight, which gets mentioned infrequently. Here's one illustrative paragraph:
Except as set forth above, the 2009 MGPP [Modified General Project Plan] will remain unmodified and in full force and effect. Project goals remain unchanged. The Project, via completion of the Arena, has already begun to improve a blighted area, to create construction and permanent jobs, to generate substantial tax revenues to the City and State, and otherwise to provide significant economic and civic benefits for the community, the City, and the State. The Project still will create thousands of housing units, including not less than 2,250 affordable units. Project MWBE goals will remain unchanged.
(Emphases added)

Well, the completion of the arena improved an area blighted by the developer, at least in part. And it didn't touch the majority of the railyard, which was supposed to be the major blighting influence.

Delayed blight removal

Here's another paragraph, referring to the Final Environmental Impact Statement:
The 2006 FEIS found that the Project would offer the opportunity to further some of the City’s policies for housing and commercial development in Brooklyn, including removing blight and eliminating negative environmental conditions; maximizing the development of appropriate land use; strengthening the tax base of the City by encouraging development and employment opportunities; providing affordable housing and market-rate housing of high quality; and providing appropriate community facilities, parks and recreational uses, retail shopping, and parking. The completion of Phase II of the Project at a later date would delay the delivery of some of the aforementioned Project benefits.
Yes, it would, including the removal of blight.

Consistency with PlaNYC

Another paragraph:
PlaNYC was established in 2007, and provides a policy framework for sustainable planning in New York City. Even with a prolonged period of construction, the Project would assist in meeting many of the goals and objectives established in PlaNYC, such as by providing new affordable and market-rate housing to meet the needs of current and future residents at a transit-accessible location, providing new open spaces, and utilizing public land to facilitate development that would eliminate blighted conditions. The completion of Phase II of the Project at a later date would delay the delivery of some of the Project benefits that would be supportive of PlaNYC, but would not conflict with the goals of PlaNYC.
This is particularly rich, because the main blighted condition was the publicly owned railyard. Blight could have been removed by simply putting it out for bid, rather than reserving it for Forest City Ratner.

Three phasing plans

The document describes three Construction Phasing Plans:
  • Continuous Sequential Phasing with Block 1129 First; 
  • Continuous Sequential Phasing with Building 15 on Block 1128 First; and 
  • Start and Stop Sequential Phasing with Periods of More Intense Construction Activities. 
As noted, these plans are not supposed to predict the schedule and sequence but rather, in accordance with the Court Order, illustration how the "timing of the construction of certain project components may vary and to provide for a reasonably conservative analysis of the range of environmental effects associated with a delayed build-out of Phase II."

What about modular?

The document contains this curious paragraph:
It is possible that some or all of the buildings planned for Phase II would be constructed using prefabricated, or modular, construction techniques; however, the SEIS assumes that each building would be constructed using the conventional construction method. Where relevant, differences in potential impacts related to conventional and modular construction techniques are discussed qualitatively. 
It's possible? It's Forest City's plan.

Construction Phasing Plan 1

Under this plan, construction would be continuous and sequential, with the start time of each individual Phase II element generally a year apart from the start time of another Phase II element. Construction is assumed to begin on Block 1129, the southeast block of the project, moving from west to east. 

Forest City Ratner has already said it plans to build first on Block 1129 when it builds outside of the arena block.

Note that a platform over the blighted railyard would not be built until 2026.

Construction Phasing Plan 2

Under this plan, construction would be continuous and sequential, but the first building constructed would be "Building 15 on Block 1128, which like Construction Phasing Plan 1, takes advantage of the fact that Block 1128 is situated on land, i.e., would not require the construction of a platform before building construction can begin."

This is the building directly east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets. Construction would require the acquisition, perhaps through eminent domain, of three private houses. Thus, I think this plan is unlikely--they want to avoid potential bad publicity.


Construction Phasing Plan 3

This start-stop plan would involve stalled construction, then restart with concentrated construction until project completion in 2035, As with Plan 1, it would start with construction on Block 1129. But there would be a lot of overlapping construction.



Comments

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…

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…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.