Thursday, January 28, 2016

A new (old) look at the building once planned for Site 5, replacing P.C. Richard/Modell's

I published a version of this image in November 2014, after the Frank Gehry retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but the shot below, from the updated Gehry exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that I recently visited, provides new perspective on the 2008 version of what was then called Atlantic Yards.

Atlantic Yards image approx. 2008; Site 5 at far left; photo at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, by Norman Oder
Not only does the model depict the B1 office tower looming over the arena--instead of the temporary-but-helpful-to-operations--arena plaza, it shows a cousin of sorts at Site 5, the tower aimed to replace the low-slung cinderblock building now home to P.C. Richard and Modell's. It's at the far west end of the the site (uh, "neighborhood")

When developer Forest City Ratner in 2008 released new renderings of the arena block, with the titanium-clad arena Site 5 was omitted. But Gehry, apparently, had designed a building.

Arrow points to Site 5
Today, there's no design, just a blocky massing model, as shown in this photo of the Pacific Park project model now on view at the 550 Vanderbilt condo sales office in the Flatbush Avenue retail space of the Barclays Center.

What's on tap?

And what's coming? As I reported last September, Empire State Development--the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-- had begun a process, said to take about six months, of condemning the properties.

An affiliate of Forest City Ratner, which developed the property in the mid-1990s along with the Atlantic Center mall, owns the property housing Modell's, while the firm A.J. Richard (parent of P.C. Richard) owns the other tax lot. The state, thanks to the 2006 project approval, already has permission to condemn the full project site.

Both tax lots must be condemned to clear title and, as reported yesterday, A.J. Richard had gone to court, contending that Forest City promised replacement space in the new building. Forest City says the agreement wasn't ironclad.

The building is supposed to be a maximum of 250' feet tall and 439,050 square feet. But things could change, and state officials in October dropped a big hint that the tower might be tweaked. I reported in November, Forest City aims to bring "high-end retail" to the site, comparing it to the Time Warner Center.

There will be no public role in the eminent domain process, but more may come out in the litigation. Plans for the building surely will be discussed at periodic Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park-related meetings.

Beyond that, if the state must tweak the project plan to allow for different uses at the site, that may require approval of the ESD board. If so, that likely won't trigger a public hearing process--that takes too long, right?--but could allow for public comment at an ESD meeting.

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