Monday, February 29, 2016

Before "Brooklyn Behemoth" plan surfaced, BP Adams suggested transferring development rights from Pacific library across street

Site 5 tower at left
The proposed "Brooklyn Behemoth" office tower (+ condos/retail) at Site 5 of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, currently home to P.C. Richards and Modell's, would be created by moving the bulk planned for the B1 tower over the arena/plaza and adding it to the already substantial building planned there.

In other words, a building some 511 feet and 1.1 million square feet would be added to one 250 feet and 439.050 square feet. That would make a giant building, perhaps the tallest and bulkiest largest tower in Brooklyn.

This dramatic, preposterous building--one I bet would be shaved down, at minimum, as a planned "compromise"--wouldn't be accomplished by a simple "transfer" of rights. Rather, it would require a change in the Atlantic Yards Design Guidelines and General Project Plan, which would require public hearings and then a vote--likely pro forma--by the gubernatorially appointed board of Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

When hints of this building surfaced last November, and I thought that B1 would remain, I mused about the possibility of New York City transferring some development rights from the Brooklyn Public Library Pacific branch, at center in the photo below, to Site 5, which is north (left) in the photo below.

I don't think it's likely, given the effort now to move the full bulk of B1 to Site 5, but Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project and it turns out that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a few months earlier, actually made that proposal.

Adams's suggestion

The Borough Presidetn's proposal surfaced deep in his 9/8/15 letter to City Planning Commission (excerpt at bottom) recommending that the plan to sell the Brooklyn Heights library site be modified. As far as I know, this has not been publicly discussed.

The library, which is not landmarked, has excess development rights, Adams wrote, but should not be replaced or torn down (the Brooklyn Public Library shelved a plan to sell it):
The only realistic opportunities to use its development rights are through: a zoning lot merger or a mechanism to allow development rights transfer across Pacific Street; through a General Large Scale Plan; landmark development rights transfer; or incorporation into the Atlantic Yards General Project Plan

So he suggested that the city-funded nonprofit Brooklyn Public Library "or its successor City Library agency" explore an air rights transfer to Atlantic Yards or the "adjacent building leased to the City's Human Resources Administration." (That 18,000-square-foot property was sold in June 2014 for $25 million, with up to 108,000 square feet development rights.)

The zoning on the library branch, indicated by the arrow below, is R8A, with a floor area ratio (FAR) of 6.02 and a building height of 120 feet. That means a building of maximum height could occupy half the lot over 12 stories/120 feet.

That's a considerable amount of bulk--and value--that the city wouldn't want to leave on the table. I can't say it would go to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. But we shouldn't ignore the possibility.
The zoning map
From the Borough President's letter

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