Skip to main content

Greenland Forest City seeks to shift arena office tower development rights to Site 5, for humongous 1.5M sf building (despite what City Planning said)

Site 5 is at far left
The 2016 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park surprise--which I partly predicted--has come early, and it's a doozy, with self-serving motives portrayed as civic ones.

The bottom line is: to save money on construction costs, and not have to build a 511-foot office tower with 1.1 million square feet over the arena plaza, Greenland Forest City Partners want to move the entire development package across the street to Site 5.

That's currently home to P.C. Richard and Modell's, where already a 250-foot building with 439,050 square feet of development rights is planned.

The results: a humongous building, more than 1.5 million square feet (and of an unknown height), across the street from row houses. Forest City has characterized it as the Brooklyn analogue to the Time Warner Center. It's almost a quadrupling of development rights.

B1 development rights would be combined with smaller Site 5 (model approx. 2008, by Frank Gehry)
What next?

This will require new approvals (and public comment), and may even generate outrage, since even the New York City Planning Commission in 2006 recommended that the building at Site 5 be cut, and it was. (And it's right next to the Brooklyn Bear's Community Garden.)

But it is being pitched as a way to "save" the plaza so crucial for the arena (and appreciated by the public), as well as to deliver office jobs.

It's possible that this, like so much regarding this project, is a gambit, and they will "accept" a compromise in which 100,000 or more square feet are shaved off.

Or that some of the development rights might be moved to Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center Mall, which already has the option to build about 1.1 million square feet (1.586 million square feet minus the Site 5 development rights) in three towers over the mall.

Note: the current Site 5 occupants, Modell's and P.C. Richard, still face an eminent domain proceeding, and P.C. Richard is challenging it in court.

The plot for Site 5 is a little more than an acre, at 48,655 square feet, according to the Atlantic Yards Design Guidelines. (An acre is 43,560 square feet.)

That makes for an astounding Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 30.8, or nearly 31. Commercial zoning, C-6, has an FAR that maxes at 15. Almost all of Hudson Yards has a smaller FAR, though a small section (see p. 31) has an FAR of 33.

The plot for Site 5 is not much smaller than the "base envelope" for B1, which is 56,725 square feet, but that tower also was expected to stretch over the arena. (Site 5, by the way, is named as such because it was part of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, or ATURA.)

There's a meeting Thursday at 9:30 am of Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project. No agenda has been announced, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is on it.

The news

Crain's New York Business reports, in Developers reveal plan to build Brooklyn's largest office tower across from Barclays Center:
The developers of Pacific Park, a sprawling collection of apartment buildings being built next to Barclays Center, are exploring a plan to build the largest office tower in Brooklyn.
Greenland Forest City, a partnership between the New York City development firm Forest City Ratner and Chinese real estate company Greenland Holdings, are considering efforts to secure the approvals necessary to transfer as much as 1.1 million square feet of development rights to a site at 590 Atlantic Ave. that it controls across the street from Barclays Center.
If successful, the pair could erect a roughly 1.5 million-square-foot office tower across from Brooklyn's largest transit hub at Atlantic Avenue, where nine subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road converge.
No dimension "Pacific Park was always meant to include modern office space," a spokeswoman for Greenland Forest City said in a statement. "We think the time is right for the borough to have an iconic office building for the new Brooklyn economy and the thousands of jobs it will bring to the doorstep of one of the city’s largest transit hubs."
Crain's noted that Empire State Development--which surely knows of this proposal--would not comment.

The justification

From the article:
Greenland Forest City has presented its plan to both neighborhood and state economic-development officials as a way to preserve the open plaza space in front of the Barclays Center. The office tower already has the support of Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a major local business group.
"Our office vacancy rate in downtown Brooklyn has fallen to a historic low of 1.6%," Reed said in a statement. "We risk losing significant investment and further job growth in downtown Brooklyn if additional inventory does not come online in the immediate future."
I don't think Tucker Reed is a neighborhood economic development official but rather a representative of the business community, most notably Forest City Ratner, whose CEO, MaryAnne Gilmartin, chairs the DBP's board

I had suspected they would not want to build on the arena plaza, given the complications, and would want to shift development rights. I just didn't think they'd have the effrontery to shift all of them all across the street.

If Brooklyn needs office space, well, wasn't Downtown Brooklyn rezoned?

DCP's 2006 recommendation

From the Department of City Planning's September 2006 letter (at bottom):
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.
Note that it had already been cut from 400 feet to 350 feet. It was cut to 250 feet, but not to 392,000 square feet.

Forest City's lie in November

When the news leaked out in November, Forest City claimed that a report in BisNow "was corrected since it mistakenly said all 1.6M would be on Site 5."

Turns out it was right.

The official approvals

From the 2009 Modified General Project Plan:
The Project would concentrate its density, height, and commercial uses at the western end of the Project Site to reflect the higher density commercial and residential uses associated with Downtown Brooklyn to the north, with Site 5 serving as a transition in scale from the neighborhoods to the west and south of the Project Site, and to capitalize on the services provided by the mass transit system – specifically proximity to the Transportation Hub (the largest in Brooklyn), and the residential uses predominant on the eastern end of the Project Site would reflect the residential nature of the adjoining neighborhoods to the north and south.
...In addition, Site 5 (located across the street from Building 1 at the junction of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues and at the southern end of the Transportation Hub) also has high potential for either commercial or residential development, while providing a transition (in height and scale) to its surroundings. This very prominent and unique terminus is well suited for high density development with an emphasis on superior architecture and urban design.


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 (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, 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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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 …