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At community meeting, open space by February; improved site maintenance; school on hold; landlord won't allow 4 am Mekelburg's

There wasn’t huge news at last night’s bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, but here are the specific project updates, described below:
  • open space outside 550 Vanderbilt should be open by February
  • site maintenance has improved
  • there are no plans yet for the tower including a school
  • Mekelburg's aiming for 535 Carlton, may seek a liquor license allowing service until 4 am but the landlord won't allow it
  • the Barclays Center has a new hotline if the oculus doesn't shut down on time
(Also see coverage of big-picture issues.)

Project update: open space

Ashley Cotton of L&L MAG, which represents Forest City (and says she speaks for the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners), said that open space planned outside 550 Vanderbilt is finished, but not yet open because of safety issues regarding final work on the building. “I was told February, today,” she said of the new goal. (Previously, the goal was the end of 2017.)

On Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, there’s still a fence outside unbuilt lots, where a giant green wall came down. The sidewalks and roadway should be restored by the end of next week, she said.

Cotton said the Public Design Commission has approved the design for Times Plaza, the pedestrian triangle between Fourth, Atlantic, and Flatbush avenues, which will become open space.

Project update: site maintenance and trees

She said the managers of existing buildings are now keeping adjacent sites above Dean Street clean and removing snow: the B15 site, east of Sixth Avenue, is the responsibility of 38 Sixth Avenue, while the B12 site, west of Vanderbilt Avenue, is the responsibility of 550 Vanderbilt, and the B13 site, east of Carlton Avenue, is the responsibility of 535 Dean.

“I think we did pretty well with the snow removal with the big storm,” she said. However, the team working on the railyard is responsible for the Carlton Avenue Bridge and the stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue above Pacific Street, “and they don’t work on the weekends.”

One resident said that there’s still a trash and rodent problem at the B14 site.

Cotton said the not-for-profit conservancy that will oversee the open space is not yet in place.

Cotton said Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association had asked about the developer replacing broken tree bed guards, “I don’t understand why it’s our responsibility.”

“It was broken by construction workers,” another block association member said. Cotton said she’d look into it.

Puca noted that there are no trees outside 38 Sixth. Forest City New York's Jane Marshall said the pavement plan doesn’t include them.

“They can’t be built,” Cotton said. “If they could, we’d stick them in.”

Project update: smoking

535 Carlton is a nonsmoking building. But it does not have a nonsmoking staff, or residential body. So employees and residents will go across Carlton Avenue to smoke, and will leave cigette butts and trash. One resident suggested that the developer place garbage cans in the front.

“Let’s go to the Department of Sanitation together,” said Cotton, noting that was a public responsibility.

Project update: school

What about the planned school at B15, aka 664 Pacific Street? Cotton said that not only did the plans for the building—previously all market-rate rentals above the school—have to change, given the change in 421-a tax break.

Also, she said, one neighbor is still negotiating an access agreement to allow the developer to shore up the excavation. (Another neighbor had gone to court over the same issue; that case is resolved.)

Project update: Mekelburg’s at 535 Carlton not til 4 am

Residents expressed concern about announced plans by Mekelburg’s to become the anchor tenant on the ground floor at 535 Carlton, with a retail/cafe/bar that stays open until 4 am.

“I know the Mekelburg’s thing is confusing,” Cotton said. “They went and met with the Community Board [actually, a committee] before signing the lease, because they needed to understand the reality of that process before becoming financially engaged.”

Resident Charlie Recknagel pointed out that Mekelburg’s owner had vowed to stay open until 4 am and get approval from the State Liquor Authority. (No vote is necessary.)

Cotton, in a first public comment regarding the dispute, said that Greenland Forest City would put a brake on that in the lease. “We’ve said, no way, we’re not doing 4 am, we have tenants” upstairs. She would not, however, specify whether the landlord would draw the line. That means 3 am might be possible

Barclays Center update: oculus concerns

Sarah Berlenbach, the Director of External Affairs for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, said that, in response to concerns that the animated advertising and announcements in the arena’s oculus have stayed on past the end time (11 pm or midnight, she said), leading to emailed complaints in the “middle of the night,” they’ve installed a 24-hour phone line to building security: 917-618-6661.

Barclays Center update: restored policy on calendar

Also, she confirmed a policy change announced last week. “Back by popular demand, we spoke with arena management and they have agreed to let us put nonticketed events back onto the [monthly event] calendar,” Berlenbach said. “I believe there were no additional events for month of January, but you should see some in February.”

That will allow neighbors concerned about large crowds or buses to plan ahead. Given that some events are booked at the last minute, too late for the monthly event calendar, she said they will send out separate notifications.

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