Skip to main content

No update on construction timetable; developer admits B15 site "disgusting," cites partial progress

From Dean Street Block Association;
left photo Sept. 14, right photos Sept. 18.
OK, the hole in the sidewalk outside the B15 site was fixed recently, but weeds, garbage, and rats persist just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, given an indifferently maintained, long-stalled site.

After complaints from neighbors last night at the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, even Ashley Cotton, Forest City New York's External Affairs EVP, acknowledged "you’re right, it’s disgusting" and announced partial progress.

Because the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners is still negotiating with a site neighbor about construction protections--the issue in a lawsuit from another neighbor, which was resolved--"we’re in a tricky place," Cotton said, with no construction start imminent.

From Dean Street Block Association; photos Sept. 18
The building design was announced in December 2015, but delays surfaced in June 2016. Even if the neighbor issue is resolved, given the glut of luxury units, there may not be a business case for the planned 664 Pacific, withluxury units and a middle school.

Temporary tactics, ongoing concern

Recently, Cotton said, the joint venture pulled some workers from the 38 Sixth Avenue (B3) site across the street to weed, to fix the sidewalk hole, and to bait for rats. She didn't specify the dates for the work.

(The site is technically owned by the state, after the developer bought the property, and will be leased back to the developer after construction.)

"Even after it was cleaned up" it remains a problem, said resident Elaine Weinstein. When taking a grandchild down the block recently, she said, "three rats greeted me." Indeed, photos taken yesterday (below) indicate a persistent problem with weeds and garbage. In essence, this is part of the "blight" that the project was supposed to remove.

Cotton acknowledged they didn't have a long-term solution yet. "My hope is it doesn’t continue for two to three years," she said. She wouldn't offer a potential timetable for construction of the 27-story tower at the site.

No timetable update
Outside B15 site, yesterday

Nor would Cotton offer any updated timetable for the overall project; parent Forest City Realty Trust last November announced unspecified delays, though joint venture partner Greenland has said it will likely break ground on one or two buildings by the end of the year.

So she didn't announce much more than incremental progress during the meeting, which attracted a few dozen people and lasted some 75 minutes, held at the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building.

No new buildings are on tap, though work continues at the Vanderbilt Yard to ultimately support a deck and vertical construction. When asked about the project's deadline, Cotton jokingly said 2035, indicating the "outside date" in state documents.

The developer faces fines for not delivering the affordable housing by 2025, but Forest City Realty Trust, parent of Forest City New York, has said its financial model extends to 2035, which presumably indicates revenue stabilization a few years before that.

What about the green wall

Outside B15 site, yesterday
What about the long-lingering giant green wall, which encroaches on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, guarding the stalled B12 and B13 sites between the recently constructed 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt towers?

"It’s getting worse and worse," Dean Street property owner Jimmy Greenfield said of the fence, noting that he had advised the developer to rip out a piece that was loose and posing a danger to bicyclists. "I saved you guys at least a million" from a potential lawsuit.

"It’s only going to get uglier, it’s delaminating," he said. "The artwork [added during a much-hyped 2015 block party] was not very good to begin with."

"I’m hugely sympathetic" to the concerns, Cotton said. "The state has announced they’re looking at it, and have put some timelines around it… You’re being heard."

The need for the wall will be reassessed by December by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

Neighbors' concerns: trucks

Opening the meeting, Tobi Jaiyesimi, who serves as both as ESD's Atlantic Yards Project Manager
and Executive Director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, an advisory body that's an ESD subsidiary, took in some neighbors' concerns about area conditions, notably trucks using St. Marks Avenue, which is not a truck route.

Noting that trucks may not be project-related vehicles, Jaiyesimi said it would "be helpful if you took a picture and emailed it to us." That would allow the state to see if they’re not following existing truck protocols for the site.

"I understand it’s placing an additional burden on you," she said. (If the once-promised app, or digital solution, had been delivered, that would be easier, or if people could/would use the once-popular Atlantic Yards Watch.)

Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association said enforcement might improve if representatives of the city Department of Transportation and New York Police Department were at the meetings. "It would be helpful to have these agencies back," he said.

"I reach out to them regularly," Jaiyesimi said.

Krashes noted he'd sought input on the one-year renewal of the contract for ESD's environmental monitor for the project, HDR. A new contract will be considered next year.

"It’s clear to me that the scope of work for the environmental monitor is too narrow," Krashes said, regarding both geographic area and tasks involved.

Developer's update: 38 Sixth

At the "100% affordable" (but mostly middle-income) 38 Sixth Avenue, Cotton said, "we’re hoping for move-ins to start in October." The building has 67 parking spaces but no parking operator yet.

The developer signed a lease with NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital for a health center at the building and, said Cotton, is working with the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) "on the community aspects of this project."

As I wrote, there's wiggle room regarding costs. To ensure it's affordable to low-income households, the space will be provided "at rent and terms to be agreed on." The developer may provide, at its expense, the initial tenant buildout, which may be recovered by lease terms. The developer is not obligated to provide ongoing funding, which suggests public officials might be asked to find funds.

The bridges and fencing outside the building should come down by the end of this month, Cotton said, though some concrete barriers will remain to protect ongoing work.

Developer's update: 535 Carlton

At the already open 535 Carlton, a "100% affordable rental," the entire building has its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. The garage will open in October, run by Park Pro Systems,

Citibike is installing a station in front of building, removing five parking spaces, Carlton Avenue has been newly paved, and was striped yesterday. Around the corner on Dean, another piece of the street will be paved.

Developer's update: open space

The work on small portions of open space behind 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt is nearly completed, with access coming from not just Dean Street but also demapped Pacific Street.

To govern the open space, a promised conservancy is being created. Until its completed, the developer will appoint seven board members, and the property owner association will appoint one. Ultimately, eight directors will be appointed by the property owners association.

Also, two members will be appointed by ESD, three ex oficio members will come from Community Boards 2, 6, and 8 official, and one nonvoting director will be appointed by the city parks commissioner. (She didn't mention representatives of "civic group(s) active in park matters," which was stated in 2009 ESD documentation.)

Developer's update: beyond buildings

Cotton said barriers (aka MPT) on Atlantic Avenue near Sixth Avenue will be removed in November, after work on water and sewer utilities concludes.

"All the medians are under construction," she said, with work due for completion in in November, with full restoration of Atlantic and Sixth sidewalks.

Work continues in the railyard, including foundation work and track work. The completion of the West Portal to the Long Island Rail Road terminal underneath Atlantic Terminal will be done over two consecutive weekends later this year, canceling train service (and presumably bringing noise).

Krashes asked if the work would preclude the restoration of street trees to Atlantic Avenue. Cotton said she'd check. She also said she'd have to check on the completion date for the permanent railyard.

Barclays Center update: managing hockey crowds

Barclays Center rep Sarah Berlenbach noted that hockey games have caused concern because of disruptive behavior from fans. "So our team, in preparation for the season, have been discussing this, and making sure it is as pleasant for anyone not attending the game as possible."

She couldn't offer specific examples of anything new, but said it involved making sure enough staff were outside to keep watch on fan behavior.

Arena events: parking issues

"Would you be interested in walking with me where limos and illegal parkers congregate?" asked resident Steve Ettlinger, indicating the evening's Paul McCartney concert, which draws the kind of crowd that takes a lot of limos.

Berlenbach said she didn't have time but would do so at another juncture.

"I’m not going to do a patrol, but walking home from the meeting, I’ll take some snapshots," Ettlinger said.

He did, and I walked with him shortly before 8 pm. There were not as many immediately egregious examples before the concert--presumbly closer to post-concert pickup the problem would compound--but we did see, for example, the car waiting above in a no-standing zone, blocking the single northbound lane on Fifth Avenue between Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue.

Comments

  1. Looks kinda "blighted," you know?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous4:44 PM

    I could be mistaken, but I swear that I saw the firemen from across the street weeding the street tree pit on Dean, and not a Tishman construction crew.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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 …