Skip to main content

The Site 5 surprise: hints of huge development (BK's Time Warner Center?) opposite arena (updated: claim *not* a shift of square footage, but then it is)

Update February 2016: Guess what: those leaked plans were correct; they do aim to build a giant tower, with more than 1.5 million square feet, on Site 5, combining the bulk from both sites. The Bisnow article was not a mistake, just a premature leak. So Forest City Ratner requested a correction in something that was correctly reported.

Update July 2016: They aim to build a tower project, with two towers totaling 1.14 million square feet, on Site 5, with 188,000 square feet of retail, at least according to a plan shared with Department of City Planning in January 2016.

-----

Update Nov. 6  from Forest City Ratner spokesman: "FYI, the BisNow piece was corrected since it mistakenly said all 1.6M would be on Site 5. That is what is allowed for the entire [B1 + Site 5] project. Also, as you know the condemnation process for Site 5 is still in the early stages."

Site 5 at the farthest west part of the project footprint
Last month, state officials dropped a big hint that the tower at Site 5, currently the home of Modell's and P.C. Richard (which face eminent domain), may be tweaked. The location is between Flatbush and Fourth Avenues, and Pacific Street, opposite the Barclays Center.

I speculated that the tower, slated at 250 feet and under 400,000 square feet, might be enlarged as some portion of the 1.1 million square feet allotted for B1--the tower slated for the arena plaza--would get shifted.

Well, there's news that something very big is planned for Site 5.

Bisnow published this tidbit Nov. 5 in a report on a panel, headlined WHAT'S BEHIND BROOKLYN'S GROWING PAINS:
Forest City Ratner EVP Kathryn Welch says FCR's getting ready to break ground on its "Site 5" project in Downtown Brooklyn, with plans for 1.6M SF of office and retail space, where she says the goal will be to bring in high-end retail like Brooklyn's never seen—something like the Time Warner Center, as she puts it.
Wow.

Here's the updated report today (without acknowledgment of correction):
Forest City Ratner EVP Kathryn Welch says FCR is working on assembling the land for its "Site 5" project across the street from the Barclays Center. The site could have Class A office space and Kathryn says the goal is to bring in high-end retail like Brooklyn's never seen—something like the Time Warner Center.
Site 5 (arrow) in model at Pacific Park sales center
Big shifts, complicated process

If that report is correct--and we don't know that it is--that would shift the entire square footage once planned for B1 to Site 5, making an enormous--and to my eyeball, unrealistic--building. (The City Point project in Downtown Brooklyn near Junior's is 1.9 million square feet.)

Also, Forest City can't break ground on the project, because 1) eminent domain hasn't gone through and 2) even a smaller increase in the Site 5 square footage beyond the maximum allotted would require a vote by the gubernatorially controlled Empire State Development to amend the 2009 Modified General Project Plan.

A quadrupling of the scale surely would require an additional layer of environmental review--either a Technical Memo (which would not trigger public participation) or a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

It's also possible that the "Site 5" project does mean a combination of the B1 site and Site 5. (Update: it was, pretty much.)
Looking north on Fourth Avenue to Site 5; city-owned building at right, as is library in center
Or, I speculate, perhaps the project would skip across Pacific Street to build over--or in place of--the Pacific branch library of the Brooklyn Public Library and the city-owned building next door. (A reader reminds me that building was rented as a Medicaid office and was sold last year.)

Maximum Building Heights & Square Footages
via Empire State Development; note that B1
has been reduced to 511 feet (click to enlarge)
All this may be posturing of some sort, and preparation for institutional and legal wrangling that could take years.

It's worth remembering that the Site 5 tower was once seen as a junior counterpart to the B1 tower, which was to be the project's flagship. Now there's a significant belief that the plaza helps the arena work. But Forest City--via the joint venture Greenland Forest City--wouldn't simply give up the square footage; they'd want to shift it.

2006 DCP comments

In September 2006, the City Planning Commission sent comments to the Empire State Development Corporation regarding the pending Atlantic Yards plan.

It recommended a reduction in the size of the tower by 100 feet and about 180,000 square feet, and that was accepted. (The Site 5 tower was originally 400 feet tall, then 350, and finally 250.)

The CPC wrote:
Site 5, located on a site bounded by Atlantic, Fourth and Flatbush avenues, is proposed for a height of 350 feet and to contain approximately 572,000 zoning square feet. The Commission recognizes the prominence of this site, which is located across from both the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and Building 1 of the Arena block, as well as directly adjacent to the low-rise buildings west along Atlantic Avenue and the terminus of the Fourth Avenue corridor. The Commission believes that Site 5’s height should be carefully assessed within this context. Given this location, the Commission therefore recommends that Site 5 be reduced to a height of 250 feet with a reduction of approximately 180,000 zoning square feet to approximately 392,000 zoning square feet in order to provide a more varied composition of building heights and to provide a stronger transition to the Fourth Avenue corridor to the south.
Another plan: office and condos?

The "Time Warner Center of Brooklyn" idea isn't the only one floating out there. The Real Deal reported 11/4/15, NYC office development ain’t what it used to be: experts, including:
[Forest City CEO MaryAnne] Gilmartin said that Brooklyn’s office-conversion market has been helped by tax benefits and that rents are beginning to rise to the level she thinks will spur new, ground-up development — though that may take some creative thinking. 
“In Brooklyn it’s a particularly puzzling problem,” she said. “I like to remind everyone that it costs exactly the same amount to build an office building in Brooklyn as it does in Manhattan.”

“In the world of vertical living and livable cities, it is now an acceptable proposition to look at an office building that has a core that performs both as an office building and a condominium tower at top,”Gilmartin added. “I think these kinds of creative solutions are going to have to be brought into the equation for the math to work.” 
Remember, few developers will start an office tower without an anchor tenant. But if condos can be financed, they could get the building off the ground. Or, maybe, retail.

Tentative plans as of August 2014

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…

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…

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…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

"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 …