Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Open space (not "park") designs released, depict project as complete, portrayed as gift to Brooklyn

Well, we should have guessed.

In advance of tonight's Community Update meeting, which includes an "open space presentation," developer Greenland Forest City Partners placed an "exclusive" with a friendly newspaper, the New York Daily News.

This morning the Daily News--remember, the sponsor of the arena plaza--published EXCLUSIVE: Forest City Ratner unveils design of 8-acre park at Brooklyn’s Pacific Park mega-development.

Why now? Not because the "8-acre park"--which is not a park"--will arrive soon.


The first pieces should come next year, but the full open space won't be finished until 2025.

Surely it has something to do with marketing those new condos, as well as reinforcing the misconception that the open space is a park.

Open space is privately managed, likely by a nonprofit, and has shorter hours than parks. It can also impose greater restrictions on freedom of expression and other activities.

As shown in the graphic above right (and reproduced below), the largest pieces of open space are set far back from the street and will be built only after the Vanderbilt Yard is decked over, in the latter part of the 11-year buildout.

Commented Prospect Heights writer Andrew Blum on Twitter, "To my eye, the expansiveness in the renderings (if it exists at all) isn't coming until the decking is built."

Indeed, what's missing is a set of incremental renderings, showing what the open space would look like every few years.

From the article

It begins:
Pacific Park, the namesake park of real estate giant Forest City Ratner's enormous Prospect Heights mega-development, might finally cross from drawing board to reality.
COURTESY OF VUW STUDIOS, via Daily News
After seemingly endless delays, the company and its partner Greenland have finally unveiled a masterplan and renderings of the 8-acre park at the heart of their new residential and commercial megaproject, which is slated to comprise 16 towers featuring condos and 2,250 units of affordable housing over 22 acres.
Actually, it's a new master plan, since it's designed by "landscape architect Thomas Balsley, best known for spaces such as Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City and Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park"--both quite nice, but separate from nearby towers by--not the original landscape architect, Laurie Olin.

There's no explanation for the timing.

A real amenity?

The article states:
“The park will make this pocket of the borough more livable for residents of many different Brooklyn neighborhoods," said MaryAnne Gilmartin, the president and CEO of Forest City, which plans to present the plans at a local community meeting on Wednesday. "There will no longer be a dearth of green space in the heart of Brooklyn. Instead, there will be sprawling lawns, shaded benches and valued neighborhood amenities across eight acres of public open space that will reknit these communities together."
(Emphasis added)

Well, this is a net gain of open space, sure. However, it surely will serve the residents of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park far more than anyone else.

Remember, the city sets a goal of 2.5 acres for every 1,000 people and, recognizing that's unattainable in many places, notes an average of 1.5 acres for every 1,000 people.

Given that the 6,430 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park apartments should hold some 14,000 people, that means either 35 acres or--more realistically--21 acres.

So they're not even close. Moreover, as Brooklyn Views blogger Jonathan Cohn wrote in 2005, those ratios were "relative to the city's existing pattern of streets and blocks, where the streets provide additional open space that is not counted in the ratio. If we didn't have streets, the requirement for open space would be much greater." In fact, perhaps 3 acres of the open space comes from the street.


Note the "gateway portal" (10) on Atlantic Avenue in four places, as well as the "railroad heritage/retail ribbon" (27) along Atlantic starting at Sixth Avenue and then at Carlton Avenue.

The designs

From the article:
The long, meandering park, which will follow the footprint of the new towers... is slated to feature a public plaza, separate toddler and children play areas, sloping lawns, a bocce ball court, a basketball court, a dog run, a public promenade, glowing lanterns and a water garden with floating foliage.
The first phase of the park, which will comprise a swath of land between new residential projects on Carlton and Vanderbilt Aves. and Dean St. and Atlantic Ave., is slated to open next summer to coincide with the opening of two towers abutting the park — they are 550 Vanderbilt, a 278 -unit condo development, and 535 Carlton, a 298-unit affordable housing complex.
The new park will have separate toddler and children play areas, sloping lawns, a bocce ball court, a basketball court, a dog run and a water garden.
That sounds like open space for those buildings. But they have a response:
But the park is much more than just a backyard for the residents of new luxury towers, Balsley said.
“Everyone agreed that we wanted this to look just like a normal accessible park that you would see elsewhere in the city,” he told the News. “We wanted this to be a great space that could be shared by the whole neighborhood as well as the residents of these buildings.”
A neighborhood critic

Blum, who writes about architecture and design (and no opponent of Atlantic Yards), tweeted, "What a sad site plan. Something like Teardrop [in Lower Manhattan] is the best of what can be hoped for (and this isn't it)"

I asked him to elaborate, and he responded, "To my eye, the expansiveness in the renderings (if it exists at all) isn't coming until the decking is built."

That doesn't arrive until 2019, at best, according to the most recent tentative schedule.

" I walk by everyday *wanting* this space to be good," Blum added. "But those renderings are a) over the top and b) 10 years away."

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