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.

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


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 February 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--but not yet approved--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…

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).


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…