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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/coming/missing, who's responsible, + project overview/FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

The slow buildout at Battery Park City, according to the ESDC, serves as an acceptable example for Atlantic Yards. Except it doesn't.

So what do the attorneys for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) say when faced with legal papers expressing dismay about potential 25 years of construction in Prospect Heights rather than the announced and promised ten years?

They say it would be unimportant, and point to the example of Battery Park City--even though the latter is more than four times as large, with several other key contrasts.

The statement comes in a motion (below) arguing that Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman should not reopen the case in which she dismissed a challenge to the ESDC's 2009 approval of the Modified General Project Plan, though she criticized the ESDC’s “deplorable lack of transparency."

Would AY buildout be like Battery Park City?

One of the key issues is whether it was reasonable for the ESDC to assume a ten-year timetable for the project and thus evaluate environmental impacts based on that scenario, an issue seemingly belied by the Development Agreement that sets 25 years as an outside date. (I'll discuss more of the arguments in another post,)

The ESDC motion states:
The project site is quite large--7 1/3 City blocks. If construction were to be delayed so that, for example, only one building at a time is to be erected across the project site, then the intensity of the construction activity would be greatly reduced, compared to the construction impacts analysis presented in the FEIS....

Petitioners' essential contention--that decades of construction would overwhelm the local area--ignores the fact that construction of the 17-building Project on an extended schedule would be episodic rather than continuous, with each building built on a modular basis... Battery Park City in Manhattan has seen buildings constructed over many decades, as part of a master development plan, but it is generally thought to be a desirable place to live, work, recreate, and go to school.
The truth about Battery Park City

Battery Park City is 92 acres, more than four time the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site, so the impact of staged development has been more attenuated.

It was built on a landfill, with no established neighborhood and longstanding street grid.

At Battery Park City, large portions of the 36 acres of open space were built first, while with Atlantic Yards, the buildings would come first.

Battery Park City involves multiple developers and multiple parcels, rather than a single developer controlling one site, choosing to move forward as it sees fit, with light penalties and many excuses for delay.

Will it make a difference?

These points about Battery Park City, I'll note, do not appear in the response papers filed by the attorneys for the two coalitions (led by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks, respectively) challenging the ESDC project approval.

Perhaps Justice Friedman knows better.
ESDC Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the Motions to Reargue and Renew case challenging 2009 MGPP


  1. Some other distinctions not mentioned (whether they are implied or not):

    * The many multiple developers of Battery Park City also had to BID for the sites they were developing. The sites were put out to bid when the government wanted them developed and project readiness was a factor in the process so the public was getting what it specified it wanted in nearly immediate real-time terms. The public also gets TOP price by bidding out a prepared site bid out among multiple developers raring and ready to go as opposed to having to take the STEEP DISCOUNT for the land subjected to the presupposition that Forest City Ratner should get monopoly rights on property decades before being ready to proceed.

    * As we previously pointed out, if all these acres were not already being handed to Forest City Ratner as a single-developer megadevelopment, the government could be putting people to work right now in the slow economy to prepare the site with infrastructure (including open space, if the design included any) just as was done at Battery park City. (See: Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Surprised? MTA Restructures the Hudson Yards Deal; Developer Cherry Picks More Benefit While Public Keeps the Risk.)

    * At Battery Parck City eminent domain abuse (and pretext of blight) was not being used to quash other naturally occurring, ongoing competing and desirable development.

    * Lastly, a distinction nobody thinks about: In the case of Battery Park City the developer(s) selected for the sites to go forward did not own other immediately adjacent developable sites (outside the formally designated project) which will now lie fallow and undeveloped for many decades because of the preferential deal (like what is being given to Ratner) that helps Ratner wipe out competition from neighboring property. Remember that, together with property that Ratner previously acquired for development from the government, Ratner owns and controls 30 contiguous acres of development rights on which he intends to have 20 towers, plus his malls plus his arena when (in forty or so years) he is done. (See: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, Schumer Says Atlantic Yards Area Is Not Blighted. Doesn’t See AY As A Ratner Mega-Monopoly, But Could His Support Wane?.)

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York


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