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Can state/Forest City cut on-site parking and tweak driving disincentives without amending project documents? Officials said yes, but it looks doubtful

Update: I queried the ESD yesterday about the answer below, and Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, responded this morning: "We will post a corrected answer to this question as soon as we can." 

At the meeting May 22 on Transportation Demand Management, officials were asked if, given the changes in the plan, notably the offering of only 541 on-site parking spaces instead of the promised 1100 (driven by the inability to use once-planned stackers), revisions were required to project documents.



Several officials, including Hankin, said no, but that deserved a lot more explanation, given that the parking change, as well as other changes, clearly depart from previous agreements and disclosures. Then again, changing some of the documents might have meant delays, including potential additional environmental review.

(State officials and developer Forest City Ratner are currently fighting a court ruling that requires a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement to examine the potential for a 25-year project buildout. Shouldn't a smaller parking lot have triggered additional review?)

The documents cited were the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGGP), the 2009 Master Development Agreement (MDA), and the 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC).

The first was approved by the board of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the state agency overseeing the project, while the other two are contracts between the ESDC and developer Forest City Ratner. Two other documents I've identified also would merit modification.

MGPP & FEIS

Given that parking was not specified in the MGPP, by my reading, no revision was necessary.

But Chapter 12, Traffic and Parking, of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), a document that has not been superseded, indicates that "approximately 1,100 parking spaces" would be available on site, with the 1,400 additional spaces needed accommodated at other off-street facilities in the vicinity.


Now the capacity for some 2000 off-street spaces may well exist, but on May 22 Forest City consultant Sam Schwartz was not ready to offer details.

The Technical Analysis

Also, a December 2010 Technical Analysis of an Extended Build-Out of the Atlantic Yards 
Arena and Redevelopment Project, produced as part of the litigation of the timetable,  states flatly that 1,100 surface parking spaces would be provided.


Somewhat contradictorily, it also cites a "capacity of up to" 1,100 cars.

The Arena Parking Declaration

In March 2010, the ESDC signed an Arena Parking Declaration, which indicated that the Atlantic Yards site would include space for no less than 1,100 vehicles.

The MDA

The Master Development Agreement is clear: Forest City had to build "no less than 1,100 parking spaces to be made available to users of the Arena." I don't think "identify" counts as equivalent to "cause the construction of."


The MEC

The Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, signed in December 2009 and itself a revision of a 2006 document, counts several demand management strategies that have since been dropped or modified, as indicated by the annotations below.

For example:
  • HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) parking will be offsite, not onsite
  • Nets ticketholders will not get a fare-incentive program
  • no shuttle bus service from Staten Island
  • bicycle storage will be outdoors, not indoors

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