Skip to main content

Signs of detente: state agrees to restore Quality of Life meeting name; compile meeting notes; work better with city regarding project impacts

Beyond the not-quite-comforting explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building, the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including concerns about traffic congestion and seeming delays in the project buildout.



The meeting, as a whole, was far less tense than the previous one, when the victim of some notorious sexual harassment spoke forcefully, putting Greenland Forest City Partners, the developer, and Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, on the defensive.

And it suggested some progress in their oft-fraught relationship with the project's neighbors. But the meeting began with a small expression of protest, as Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association pointed out that, with the release of the meeting's bare-bones agenda only earlier that day, residents didn't have time to prepare to attend the meeting knowing that Con Edison would be there.

He got a noncommittal response from Nicole Jordan, who handles community relations for ESD, who introduced Tobi Jaiyesimi, executive director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, the advisory body that launched in 2015, as well as ESD's new point person regarding the project.

A "very helpful" meeting

Jaiyesimi reported on a "very helpful" meeting last week with community members representing the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance (BCIZA). One result: the bi-monthly meeting will return to its original name, the Quality of Life meeting, not Community Update, and, as in the past, community members will be encouraged to send questions or agenda items.

Though semantic, that's a significant change (which shouldn't have had to be made in the first place).

As I wrote last October, a state official called it a "developer meeting," hence the name Community Update. It grew out of a working groups called the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet

The successor Quality of Life Committee, which was to meet bi-monthly in the evening, aimed to allow for more input from those most impacted by arena operations and responded to a request by Community Boards 2 and 6 in the liquor license process.

In Spring 2015, reflecting a more top-down structure, the name of the meeting was changed to Community Update. As I wrote, some neighbors criticized it, saying "it went from a community exchange to you talking at us."

Community appreciation

Steve Ettlinger of BCIZA read a statement expressing appreciation for the meeting, which grew out of a letter send in May to ESD regarding lapses in project oversight. "The goals raised during the meeting are improved community engagement, aggregation of community concerns and complaints, and interagency coordination," he noted.

"At the meeting we discussed the memorialized 2007 Atlantic Yards Oversight Measures"--announced after the parapet from the Ward Bakery fell--"which include an interagency working group which meets monthly, and the model similar to District Service Cabinet that was once used for the Project," he said. "We also think facilitating interaction between the community and those actually managing and monitoring the construction and operation of the Project will improve communication, lift the burden of government, and allay community concerns."

At the meeting, he noted, the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit (CAU) "suggested a relevant City agency review process that would have a role for the public and would be promoted better."

Changes coming

The ESD sent a list of several action items following the meeting, including:
  • the changes in the bi-monthly meeting 
  • an agreement to compile detailed meeting notes, which would be sent to AY CDC directors and posted on the ESD web site
  • an agreement that ESD staff work with the CAU to reach out to relevant city agencies
  • an effort to improve coordination between ESD staff, the CAU, agencies, and the developer;
  • and an exploration of the feasibility of analyzing 311 data for Atlantic Yards-specific complaints.
(Unmentioned: a pending request to videotape such meetings.)

"Finally, we know that everyone recognizes that this is an atypical project due to its location and size," Ettlinger stated. " It demands creative and additional resources to protect the community and to produce a lasting, meaningful project... We look forward to future dialogue and a greater partnership."

That's significant progress, assuming it's implemented, though at the same time it's a weary reminder that oversight has in some ways gone backward over the years, not forward.

Ettlinger's line about the "atypical project"--I like to say it's an "extremely tight fit"--was particularly relevant in light of the debris falling. There's just not that much margin for error.

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 …

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…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


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 …