Skip to main content

Consultant says developer is "actively fulfilling" requirements regarding noise control, but neighbor says letters about air conditioners came late

At the 7/28/15 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), a representative of Henningson Durham and Richardson (HDR), the outside mitigation monitor for Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, reported on the developer's compliance with noise control requirements.

"HDR considers the Developer to be actively fulling these mitigation requirements," declared HDR project manager Jennifer Bienemann, though one neighbor later pointed out that Greenland Forest City Partners was actually delayed in alerting neighbors. The issue remained unresolved.

Project requirements

Tracking the slides in the presentation above (extracted from the board materials posted on Monday), Bienemann explained the project's Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC; see p. 22-23) requires double-glazed or storm windows and one air conditioner per bedroom or main living room with a window along a facade predicted to experience.

Letters were sent to approximately 550 building and unit owners/tenants in 2007, with more than 190 responses.
From HDR presentation below
About 400 vouchers were issued for air conditioners, with, 275 redeemed. In 9 of 18 units eligible for windows, new windows were installed. The others either got financial aid to install windows, did renovations, or did not respond.

New locations

The court-ordered Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SEIS), finished in June 2014, as well as the Amended MEC triggered new locations and criteria for eligibility.
From HDR presentation below
Some 160 buildings were identified as facing significant adverse construction noise impacts. Most had been offered receptor controls in 2007, but the Final SEIS analyzed a greater number of noise model receptors, including rear and side building faces. (Previously, the Final EIS looked only at the front of the buildings.)

A second outreach program began in late 2014, with flyers affixed to front doors and secondary entrances of buildings, in English and Spanish. "This is a work in progress," Bienemann comment.

As noted on slide 10 below, the developer's tracking system includes the eligible building and unit, the impacted floor and facade, the construction site-specific trigger, the dates of outreach, and the implementation milestones. HDR has met with the developer to discuss refinements to the tracking system.

As stated on slide 14, certified letters were sent in December 2014 and March 2015, about 350 flyers were distributed in May/June 2015, with 45 vouchers issued and 30 redeemed. Four eligible historic properties will receive financial assistance to install windows if they wish to do so. One eligible building unit is in discussion with the developer regarding window installation.

HDR's monitoring efforts includes spot-checks on the tracking system regarding whether the developer reaches qualified units, responds within two weeks, and provides the units with noise receptor controls.

"HDR considers the Developer to be actively fulling these mitigation requirements and will continue to monitor its progress," Bienemann read, tracking the slide.

Going forward

As noted in slide 15, HDR recommends that the developer initiate outreach three months prior to establishing a construction fence or MPT (maintenance and protection of traffic) barriers.

It also recommends that a way be established for potentially eligible residents who don't receive flyers to contact the developer. For example, the flyers could be distributed to community boards, at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meetings, or even in the two-week construction look-aheads.

(Indeed, the program was mentioned in the most recent two-week Construction Update. See screenshot at right.)

HDR also recommended that the developer maintain a website for residents to ask about eligibility.

Some questions

How many units, asked board member Jaime Stein, are in the 160 buildings? Bienemann didn't know.

Have there been complaints regarding noise attenuation, asked board member Kieran Harrington. Some, mostly from new residents, who arrived after the "first flyering," said AY CDC President Marion Phillips III.

Stein asked if those experiencing noise but outside the map could appeal and get assistance, noting there are noise complaints on Atlantic Yards Watch beyond the map.

No, responded ESD's Rachel Shatz, saying the process relied on information in the Final EIS and Final SEIS, which "went through extensive analysis."

Dean Street resident Peter Krashes chided the state agency and its consultant, calling it a "failure of monitoring." The letters said to be released in December, he said, "we saw them in January or February... but backdated to opening of construction... That is a failure of the developer."

As Krashes noted, the MEC says "Noise mitigation measures shall be implemented... in a timely manner so as to avoid the significant adverse noise impacts identified in the FEIS and FSEIS where practicable." In other words, he said, it should have been in place before construction activities began on the southeast block of the site in December.

He also suggested that the Final SEIS was "in my view inappropriately narrowed," since it assumed that the first phase of the project was complete--not so--and only looked at the geography of the second phase.

"If you depend on those documents, then the community is the casualty," he said, his voice passionate. "You guys have to help us," pointing to ESD staffers Phillips, Shatz, and Sam Filler.

"This is a comment period, not a Q&A," observed AY CDC Chairman Ken Adams, former CEO of ESD, in a conciliatory manner. Krashes, he said, suggested "what can we do to do better... and let's talk about it at our next meeting."


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…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

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…