Skip to main content

Atlantic Yards Watch: removal of Atlantic Yards street trees means "construction delay-induced blight"

Trees on Pacific Street in summer
When the city removes parking next week from the north side of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, and directs the street one-way, there's some collateral damage, "construction delay-induced blight," as Peter Krashes writes on Atlantic Yards Watch: "Temporary" removal of street trees on Pacific Street (and elsewhere) could last for decades with delayed construction.

Next week developer Forest City Ratner will remove 20 street trees on that north side of Pacific, part of a 2008 Parks Department permit that allows the removal of 86 existing street trees. But this may take far longer than previously assumed.

As Krashes writes:
The area where the trees on Pacific Street are located was originally anticipated to be the first area of the second phase of the project to be constructed. However, in October 2012, FCRC Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told investors that second phase construction would begin first on block 1129 (between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, and Dean and Pacific Streets). Further, at the time the 2008 permit was granted, it was assumed the air rights over the railyard would already be owned by FCRC. Now MTA still retains those rights and FCRC is not obligated to purchase them.
Arena block loses trees

Krashes also noted that, "[i]n December, approximately five recently planted trees near the arena were removed, apparently at the request of NYPD due to concerns about pedestrian safety." that means only eleven street trees, compared to the original plan for 31 such trees.

So there will be a switch:
A representative from the Parks Department has confirmed with AYW it will allow FCRC to meet their permit obligations by planting trees on blocks near the project when the number of trees originally included in the permit does not fit into the public right of way around the project perimeter.
This, according to Krashes, may be a response to "unanticipated consequences of changes to the arena block" made in 2009, including the inclusion of "an exit at Dean Street and Flatbush which was never disclosed in project plans and never studied in any pedestrian analysis."

What next?

Krashes warns that it may be very difficult to develop the planned 116 street trees, because many "now lie in areas FCRC does not control and is in the position to choose to not develop."

For more, see Atlantic Yards Watch. Also see coverage in Patch:
[Christine] Schmidt, who moved into the [Newswalk] building 11 years ago, remembers petitioning to get the trees put in around 2002.
"They finally started to get beautiful and were finally stating to provide shade and I can't believe that they will ever replace them with trees of those size," she said
"It will take years before new plantings can reach the kind of stature that they can affectively be cooling the street and the sidewalks," she added.


  1. Hi there,

    I live up in the Bronx, but heard about the removal of street trees in connection with the Atlantic Yards project on Channel 4’s Debrief last weekend. I wanted to share information about a fight launched by a community up in the Bronx against a similar situation.

    Members of the Bronx community affected joined together to form the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance (PPPA) and were able to positively alter the original outcome (see PPPA Can Claim Victory on Trees:, in the Bronx Times Reporter). Perhaps their story would be helpful to any activists, bloggers and reporters, who are interested in or currently working to preserve as many Atlantic Yard trees as possible. George Zulch (a founding member), Joseph Menta, and David Varenne were key members of the PPPA whom local electeds requested be appointed to a technical working group made up of the community, the Department of Design and Construction and the Parks Department, and might be good people to contact.

    Other articles about the initial formation of the PPPA and their progress during their 2 year fight are also available at the Bronx Times Reporter’s website (

    To summarize, numerous trees along Pelham Parkway were slated for removal due to a construction improvement and repair project (new guard rails and sewer infrastructure) along this roadway. Obviously, while slightly different in nature and nowhere near the scale of the Atlantic Yards project, many similar issues were at stake

    * a unilateral decision (in this case, on the part of city agencies) to cut down up to 50 mature trees, justified as follows

    * safety – the trees would interfere with the installation of much needed guardrails

    * expense - alternative plans preserving the trees would be too costly
    disease – removal of 30-40 more trees (over and above the 50 cited above) due to illness

    * promises to replant new trees to replace those that were removed

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Good Luck!


    Pelham Bay Resident
    Where tenacity, hope and delight meet. . .


Post a Comment

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…

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 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…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …