Skip to main content

Guess what: Atlantic Yards environmental review didn't assess whether arena noise might penetrate the neighborhood or adjoining towers (though some assessment was apparently done for business reasons)

How about that giant neighborhood sub-woofer, the arena that provoked a (proposed) fine for leaking bass?

It sure doesn't look like the environmental review for the Atlantic Yards project ever assessed the potential for arena-related noise--such as bass from the Jay-Z and Sensation concerts--to penetrate residences either within the project site or down the street, much less blocks away.

That's a lapse--apparently a permissible one--in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). And it appears to be a flaw in the arena design--one that Forest City Ratner is apparently trying to remedy, though the developer won't issue a progress report yet.

Either way, the state override of zoning to place a sports facility up against a residential neighborhood surely raises the stakes, as does the plan for residential towers immediately adjacent to the structure. The latter plan, far more than a proposed $3,200 fine, is most likely to provoke adjustments.

You might think the pending, court-ordered Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) would require such an evaluation, but don't bet on it, since the only noise impacts assessed relate to traffic and construction.

City and state guidance apparently requires no evaluation of the potential for noise from a enclosed facility to penetrate neighboring buildings.

Why not? I'd guess because it's just not supposed to happen.

What the FEIS said

Chapter 15, Noise, of the FEIS, cited "noise attenuation values for new buildings... based on exterior noise levels," including "both project-generated traffic and construction." Not arena operations.

The "project buildings would include both double-glazed windows and central air-conditioning," both of which "would provide a minimum of 35 dBA attenuation," thus lowering interior levels below 45 dBA.

Neither double-glazed windows now air conditioning have stopped the bass from reaching arena neighbors.

There's no mention of stationary sources in the chapter, but, then again, the official guidance only addresses stationary sources that are open to the air, as noted below.

The project consultant

There are surely business reasons for the developer to analyze noise and vibration issues, and a consultant called Cerami states that it did so:
Cerami provided acoustical and vibration consulting for the new Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, NY which includes an 800,000 gsf multi-use arena, a mixed-use tower, three residential towers, and above and below grade parking garages, sited on approximately 7.25 acres.
The arena is set in a busy urban setting near the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street subway station and the Long Island Rail Road terminal in Brooklyn, one of the most transit-accessible locations in the New York City. Due to the location, vibration isolation was of the utmost importance.
In addition, it was critical that the residential towers be isolated both from train vibration, as well as sound breakout from, and into, the arena. In order to assess the noise levels from arena events, we conducted benchmark testing of a variety of event types from rock concerts to basketball games. Using this, combined with predictive software, we were able to to establish a baseline by which we were able to establish minimal criteria to provide appropriate sound for arena interiors, as well as facade, roof, and construction details to minimize impact to the adjacent spaces.
(Emphasis added)

That work, as of yet, does not appear to be super-successful. Or, perhaps, it's just stale. The Cerami web site states that the client was original architect Frank Gehry rather than Gehry's successors, Ellerbe Becket (now part of AECOM) and SHoP.

What the SEIS should cover

In her July 2011 decision on a challenge to the state's failure to study the potential of a 25-year project buildout, state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman ordered "preparation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement assessing the environmental impacts of delay in Phase II construction of the Project; the conduct of further environmental review proceedings pursuant to SEQRA in connection with the SEIS, including a public hearing if required by SEQRA; and further findings on whether to approve the MGPP for Phase II of the Project."

The key issue involves the impacts from delayed construction, not the impacts from an arena that sometimes operates as a neighborhood sub-woofer.

What's required

Such assessment of sound is apparently not required.

According to the CEQR (City Environmental Quality Review) Technical Manual, which "assists city agencies, project sponsors, and the public in conducting environmental reviews," the chapter on Noise (revised as of this June) does mention the possibility of Stationary Noise:
112. STATIONARY SOURCE NOISE
Stationary sources of noise do not move in relation to a noise-sensitive receptor. Typical stationary noise  sources of concern for CEQR include machinery or mechanical equipment associated with industrial and manufacturing operations; or building heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems. In addition, noise produced by crowds of people within a defined location, such as children in playgrounds or spectators attending concerts or sporting events and noise produced by concerts or by announcements using amplification systems, are considered stationary sources.
(Emphasis added)

Yes, noise produced by concerts would count. But lower down, the guidance implies that only outdoor events could cause problems:
While people are not usually thought of as stationary noise sources, children in playgrounds or spectators at outdoor sporting events or concerts may cause annoyance in communities. Instantaneous crowd noise levels at outdoor events may exceed 90 dB(A). In addition, measurements taken at 10 school playground sites in 1987 concluded that maximum Leq(1) levels at school playground boundaries in the New York City area are 75 dB(A). The equations for calculating playground noise may be obtained from DEP. Potential noise impacts due to amplification systems at outdoor concert or performance facilities, ballparks, amusement facilities, etc., may be avoided if the system is properly designed and operated (see Section 333).
Potential solutions

What are the solutions? Section 333 advises proper research:
In all cases, rather than using theoretical modeling techniques, it is preferable to use actual facility data. Therefore, if a facility comparable to the proposed project can be measured, and its levels can be adjusted to account for differences in conditions between its site and the proposed project site, that is generally a preferred modeling approach.
Or add something at the building to muffle the sound, turn down the volume, or even move "the source in question":
520. STATIONARY SOURCES
The most common mitigation measures available for stationary sources include exterior building attenuation (as discussed for mobile sources in Subsection 511 above), barrier erection (as discussed above), and noise control design on the source in question. Caution should be exercised when erecting barriers in New York City given the limitations mentioned above. In many cases, treating the noise source (i.e., providing baffles, silencers, mufflers, sound insulation, placing it within an enclosed structure,  etc.) may be the least expensive option. Moving the source in question so that receptors would not be significantly affected is also a potential mitigation measure. 
(Emphasis added)

In the 2001 Technical Manual, which was in force during the 2006 environmental review for Atlantic Yards, the chapter on Noise has the same text noted above.

No, "moving the source in question" is not on the table. They're not moving the arena. But perhaps some kind of muffler will be applied.

Forest City Ratner surely has an incentive, not merely to mollify arena neighbors but to ensure that future residents of towers adjacent to the arena--their future tenants--aren't outraged.

Comments

  1. There is no need for complicated noise-abatement solutions. The problem can be fixed in five seconds. FCR needs to turn down the volume. If need be, the physical volume controls can have limiters installed. Courts can and do order this kind of remediation. Why is it still too loud? Because FCR DOESN'T CARE, and isn't being forced to remediate. Certainly FCR's lease with the State requires it to be law-abiding.

    George L

    ReplyDelete

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 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…

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 …