Thursday, March 27, 2014

Draft SEIS: no to multiple developers; hint of Greenland delay; notable push to cut parking (but no push for permits); parking plan shown

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 and cageyness about blight I already mentioned?

Well, note that document is far more descriptive about reducing parking in the project to 1200 spaces--and unconcerned about the competition for free parking in the neighborhood--than about whether undeveloped sites should be bid out to other developers.

Below is the statement, in full, in the Executive Summary of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), which was released prior to the board meeting. (The full DSEIS presumably will be released tomorrow and offer more analysis.)
The analysis of the multi-developer alternative concludes that the alternative would not be practicable, and would not be effective in accelerating construction of Phase II of the Project. 
I guess we'll have to wait for the details.

The Greenland joint venture

The document does summarize some (already known) issues relating to the Greenland Group's expected purchase of 70% of the project going forward and the creation of a joint venture, but says "No Director action is requested with respect to the transaction at the present time."

While Forest City Enterprises last month said all approvals were expected, "allowing the transaction to close in mid-2014," ESD either hinted at delay or was simply more cautious, stating, "It is expected that the joint venture transaction will close in 2014."

Cutting parking--again

Note that ESD is already evaluating a proposed reduction in parking from the 3,670 spaces analyzed in the 2006 Final EIS to 2,896 parking spaces. This is analyzed in the Extended Build-Out Scenario for the Draft SEIS.

But a "Reduced Parking Alternative" would cut the number to 1,200 spaces. The document states:
The “Reduced Parking Alternative” would be an alternative that would further reduce on-site parking to reflect the recent zoning changes for Downtown Brooklyn, which eliminated accessory parking requirements for affordable housing units and reduced accessory parking requirements for market-rate housing. 
That's likely welcome news to the sensible, progressive sorts who embrace the livable streets movement, but... there's a huge caveat. 

Competition for free parking

Given the limited amount of free parking, this would mean continued, and aggressive, competition with arena goers, at least without instituting residential permit parking.

The Draft SEIS dodges the issue:
Accounting for non-Arena parking demand that would also need to be accommodated off-site under the Reduced Parking Alternative, off-street public parking facilities are expected to operate with available capacity during both the weekday evening and Saturday midday periods when there is a Nets game scheduled at the Arena during these periods, irrespective of the Project variation. Therefore, under the Reduced Parking Alternative, no shortfalls in off-street public parking capacity are expected to occur as a result of demand from a Nets game at the Arena and other non-Arena uses at the project site.
But off-street parking facilities charge fees.

The parking planned in the base case

According to the Draft SEIS, the “base case” Parking Key Plan would reduce the parking area on the Arena Block and eliminate parking spaces in the southwest corner of Block 1120 because parking in this area is not compatible with the current design of the permanent rail Yard.

The reduced parking plan

The Parking Key Plan studied in the Reduced Parking Alternative also would reduce the parking area on the Arena Block and would eliminate all parking on Block 1120 and under Building 15 on Block 1128.

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