Skip to main content

Amenity or not? Dancing around deception regarding the Barclays Center's green roof

Current rendering, from SHoP, helicopter perspective
Question: Is the Barclays Center's coming green roof an amenity--yes or no?

Answer: Both, according to oddly contradictory statements from different representatives of developer Forest City Ratner.

Reality: Both responses obscure the deception around the roof--both its conception and construction.

The green roof discussion gave an Alice-in-Wonderland aspect to the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting Tuesday night, which concerned construction of the West Portal and the roof, as disclosed in a document circulated before the meeting.

Large cranes will be blocking lanes on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues for four months, and be placed on the B3 site at the southeast corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. Later, smaller cranes will be used for the installation of the layer of sedum (hardy plantings).


"An amazing amenity"

Early in the meeting, Ashley Cotton, Forest City Ratner's Director of External Affairs, described the projects at hand.

"First, the green roof. This is an amazing amenity," she said enthusiastically, "it was something that we had always planned for in Atlantic Yards--people who have been following the project for years probably saw early drawings with it. And, frankly, we built the building with the hope we that we could bring it one day."

Really? That ignores the history, such as the much-promoted plans for public space that led New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp to rhapsodize in his 12/11/03 review about "Courtside Seats to an Urban Garden." And the far less-promoted disclosure in May 2008 that the green roof was gone.

As for the longstanding plans, well, why did Forest City never say, upon launching the new arena design, that they planned a green roof? Maybe because a good part of the reason is to tamp down bass escaping from the building.

Also, I'd bet, because saying they planned a green roof to improve the view for new tower residents would provoke an obvious question: why are you then putting the Barclays logo on the non-green roof?

Also see June 2009 ESD Technical Memorandum:
The arena roof would not incorporate stormwater detention tanks, a green roof, or rooftop private open space. Instead, the detention tanks would be located in the base of the arena and enlarged to accommodate the additional stormwater load associated with the elimination of the green roof.
Given that it will take until July 2015 (at least) to install the green roof, I wonder how plausible it was for Forest City to announce a December 2014 opening of the first tower, B2. It's now scheduled to open in December 2015. But would residents really like giant cranes working on the arena roof by day?

Those green Chinese

Cotton continued her enthusiastic presentation. "The Greenland Group—again the partner that we hope to sign the JV [joint venture] with in the month of June," Cotton said, "is particularly excited about this. Again, their name's Greenland Group, they're very interested in open space and green amenities."

Really? Greenland is likely excited about this because the company--according to this description of its Hong Kong affiliate--"has relentlessly upheld its mission of 'Create better life' by realizing the goals of the government and serving the demands of the market for more than 20 years."

That doesn't sound particularly green, especially since the firm also engages in coal production and petroleum storage.

Who benefits?

"I think it will be excellent, obviously, for the tenants up and around it," Cotton said in a moment of candor. "It will also be an amenity for anyone who, y'know, can see the roof and the project area on a regular basis.”

In other words, if there's something nice to see, then locals benefit? Maybe, but that's certainly not how it was sold.

Later in the meeting, resident Steve Ettlinger pointed to a contrast between the green roof now planned and the public space previously announced: "The arena, when announced, was going to have a fairly flat surface for a park and a track and all that, and this roof is not replacing that?"

2003 announcement, Frank Gehry design
Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall replied, "It's not going to be--"

"--this has nothing to do with that?" asked Ettlinger.

"It's not an amenity," Marshall responded, "there’s no [public] access."

"Well, I know that, it's that you said the green roof has always been planned?" Ettlinger continued. "But I--that shocked me because--"

"It was actually planned twice," continued Marshall.

"The green roof?" continued Ettlinger.

"Yes," responded Marshall.

Beckett.

Actually, Marshall's statement deflates the notion that the green roof has always been planned.

Rather, something green on the roof has twice been planned. In the earlier case, the amenity was public access. In the current case, the amenity is something to view.

What's missing?

As I wrote in April, the green roof is not part of the current environmental review, the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that is expected to be approved this month by Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards.

The court-ordered review concerns Phase 2 of the project, east of Sixth Avenue. The green roof is part of Phase 1. For the purpose of the review, Phase 1 is an "existing condition," even if it's not built yet.

Orwell.

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 + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in January 2018, 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 …

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).

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…