|From Dean Street Block Association;|
left photo Sept. 14, right photos Sept. 18.
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|
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|
"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.
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
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.