Skip to main content

Landscape architects' organization says Atlantic Yards parking lot ignores sustainability; calls for increased greenery, better use of stormwater, programming when space is unused

Forest City Ratner's plan to not meet Department of City Planning standards for the surface parking lot associated with the Barclays Center--thanks, according to the developer, to a state override of zoning*--has generated extensive criticism, not only from Atlantic Yards Watch, but more recently from a leading professional organization, which warns of "higher-than-average temperatures in the neighborhood as a result of the heat island effect."

Proposed greening of lot as depicted by Atlantic Yards Watch.
In a letter sent 6/12/12 to Kenneth Adams, President/CEO, Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency overseeing the project, the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA) commented that the parking should be more sustainable, adding "vegetation, shade, a minimized carbon footprint, stormwater management and pervious parking surface materials."

"Such an approach is more respectful of the quality of life of adjacent residents and businesses," wrote NYASLA President Denisha Williams and Past-President, Policy Committee Tricia Martin.

*The letter notes that the exemption from city guidelines is because of the lot's status as a temporary lot--but it could last for more than a decade.

Forest City Ratner has said that there's not enough space in the lot to add the vegetation requested; the developer halved the size of the lot because an 1,100 space lot would have required stackers, which cause delay. (A meeting next week will address the parking lot, along with security and sanitation.)

What's planned

The letter notes the following features:
  • 541 parking spaces will be integrated into Lot B1129
  • 24 spaces are for NYPD parking
  • There will be no planted islands or trees within the parking lot
  • There will be a 4-foot perimeter planter along the sidewalk faces of the parking lot
  • There will be a perimeter fence along the parking lot
  • The parking lot will be used for 200-225 arena events per year
  • The parking lot is temporary but could remain as a parking lot for upwards of 25 years.
  • Lot B1129 is exempt from meeting City Planning Parking Lot guidelines due to its status as temporary lot
  • The additional stormwater that is created is being mitigated with an underground detention tank
  • There are no plans for green infrastructure within or along the parking lot
What NYASLA recommends

NYASLA outlines three areas of concern and makes recommendations, based on the national organization's policies:

Noting that "vegetation in the built environment is a major influence on the quality of human life and in creating a healthy environment," the organization recommends that DCP regulations be integrated into the revised design, extending the planter along the perimeter of the parking from four feet to seven feet--as minimum action--to include trees and more vegetation diversity, as well as add trees within the site.

While NYASLA did acknowledge that "the integration of a detention tank system will mitigate some of the harmful effects of additional stormwater to our waterways and aging water infrastructure," operators could still use excess water to irrigate plants within the parking lot and along the perimeter.

Noting that the lot could be use for four hours at each of 225 events, that's only ten percent of the time. So NYASLA recommends that Forest City work with neighborhood organizations and local officials to ensure programming of events, such as "farmer’s markets, street fairs, performances, a cycle track, etc."

What happened to PlaNYC?

The letter-writers point out that the proposed design "completely disregards any of the recommendations, standards, and guidelines outlined" in Mayor Mike Bloomberg's 2007 PlaNYC, the City Planning Commission's 2007 adoption of Design Standards for Commercial and Community Facility Parking Lots, and three follow-up sustainability plans created in 2010.

They note:
As one of the major projects underway in our city at this time, overseen by a public agency, this should be an example of how to do this right, rather than an exception to the agreed-upon initiatives. Our city has made great strides towards making decisions that are better for our communities and our environment. It is unacceptable that a project as large as this parking lot ignores the smart, strategic recommendations of these plans. Through the creation of the Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP) along with continued consultation with local residents, workers, and organizations such as NYASLA, we believe a new design can be created that meets the FCRC needs for arena parking and contributes to a greener and better New York City.
NYASLA Atlantic Yards Parking Lot Letter 06-12-2012

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won't be so cheap.

As…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2017: no new towers, unfilled affordable units, Islanders prepare to leave, project timetable fuzzy

My 2018 preview.

It was another wait-and-see year for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, with one big twist--the beginning of a slow goodbye for the New York Islanders--but continued delays for towers, a lost (mostly) 421-a subsidy for condos, and new skepticism about unfilled not-so-affordable housing units.

So ongoing questions linger regarding the project's pace, affordability, and even future ownership.

In my 2017 preview, I predicted--not exactly going out on a limb--that two and likely three more towers would open, though it would be unclear how fast they'd lease up and sell.

Indeed, we've learned that the middle-income below-market units at 461 Dean (which opened in 2016) and 535 Carlton have leased very slowly, while it's too soon to assess progress for commensurate units at 38 Sixth. (At 535 Carlton and 38 Sixth, middle-income units make up half the "100% affordable" buildings.) Meanwhile, many apartments are up for rent at the 550 Vanderbilt condo buildin…