Skip to main content

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.


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…