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Why might B4 return as office tower? Would have had slow-leasing apartments. (Where are promised site amenities?)

The dormant B4 site; photo excerpt from AY Webcam
As I wrote yesterday, in 2009, the consultant KPMG estimated that market-rate buildings in the Atlantic Yards project would, on average, take one year to fill up.

However, there was one glaring exception, as indicated in the annotated graphic below left: B4, the behemoth tower at the northeast corner of the arena block, which was estimated to take two years.

That's surely not an ideal situation for a developer.

And that may be why B4's proposed configuration has changed multiple times, as the developer tries to figure out what to do with a huge, nearly 825,000-square-foot building, more than the combined bulk of the two other arena-adjacent towers, 461 Dean and 38 Sixth, both of which near completion.

From 2009 KPMG report
And it may be why B4 seems indefinitely delayed, with no plans by the state to require--as was once predicted--temporary open space and public amenities on such a stalled development site.

That would be costly, given that the footings of the tower would be 20+ feet below street level, once part of the Vanderbilt Yard.

Now, as shown in the photos, the site is filled with generators and other equipment, with pedestrian access barred by fences.

A shifting plan

B4, at 511 feet, was long slated to be the second-tallest and second-bulkiest tower, after B1, aka Miss Brooklyn. It would retain that status even if most of the B1 bulk gets moved across the street to Site 5, as is planned.

Remember, the four towers around the arena were once supposed to house office space. Then three of the towers--including, presumably, B4--were to become condos.

As of 2009, B4 was apparently envisioned as an 80/20 (80% market/20% low-income) rental building, with the 711 market-rate units taking 24 months to rent out, and the remaining 176 below-market units taking just three months.

Below grade at B4 site
(Though the chart above says the affordable units would be "middle-income," I think it's an error. There aren't any 80/20 buildings in which the affordable units are middle-income.)

In October 2013, the state approved a change to the building's design, with the justification that, without such a modification, B4 would be a much smaller building, and would substantially decrease affordable housing.

As of August 2014, as shown in the graphic below, Building 4 was to be a mixed building, with 213 condos and 551 rentals, half of them affordable. Construction was to start in March 2017.

That's changed too. Earlier this year, developer Greenland Forest City Partners announced a plan to convert B4 into office space, and also to sell a stake in the building (along with two planned condo towers).

Nothing has happened since then and, presumably, it would be tougher to sell that stake before Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, amends the official Atlantic Yards plan to allow office use.

Perhaps they recognized that, not only does the residential market seem glutted, that location is suboptimal for residents, with no room for open space at the ground level.

October 2016 annotation
The missing amenities

B4 site from Atlantic Avenue sidewalk
I took a look at the Technical Memorandum produced by Empire State Development in 2009 after project deal terms were revised.

It claimed that delayed construction would be alleviated by new amenities:
Temporary open space and public amenity use such as retail kiosks, landscaped seating areas, and plantings would be provided on the building footprints not under development, particularly Buildings 3 and 4. These amenities would enliven the street-level environment and provide a buffer between the arena and residential district to the south.
B4 site from Sixth Avenue
Well, B3, when the arena opened, had some green space and bicycle racks, but no seating or retail. B4 has remained an equipment zone.

I don't recall any evidence that the purported commitment was memorialized in contract documents (though I'll check again).

But the promise was brought up again in the ESDC's Response to Comments document:,
Comment 27: A number of commenters strongly disagreed with the conclusion of the Technical Memorandum that the environmental impacts of a delayed Project will not increase relative to a Project completed on schedule. The modification of the Phase I development would radically modify the original strategy of the Project to mitigate the placement of the Arena within residential neighborhoods by integrating it with commercial and residential density.
Response: As described in the Technical Memorandum, should prolonged adverse economic conditions result in delayed construction of Buildings 3 and 4 on the Arena block, temporary open space and public amenities such as retail kiosks, landscaped seating areas, and plantings would be provided on these building footprints. These amenities would enliven the street-level environment and, along with Building 2, would provide a buffer between the Arena and existing development to the north and south.

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