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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2018: new towers overdue; at least one sale expected; Islanders' interim decision coming

What to expect from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2018? (See my 2017 round-up here.)

The first question is whether and when any new towers start. Given that zero new buildings started in 2016 and 2017, and at least 11 towers are due (purportedly by 2025), it's a good bet that something will launch.

Maybe it will be B15 (664 Pacific), the building that was supposed to deliver a school by 2019, though now 2022--a four-year process--may be a best-case scenario. Maybe it will be B12 (615 Dean), though that once-planned condo building likely would not be condos, given the loss of the 421-a tax break for condos.

There's a decent chance that the public process, if not actual construction, begins for the massive two-tower project at Site 5, now projected as a flagship office tower (though it could contain apartments), plus high-end retail, since the legal case blocking it has a path to resolution.

The project, which would involve shifting approved bulk from B1 (over the arena plaza) across the street, would require an environmental review as well as a revision to the Modified General Project Plan approved by Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

That might bring out some longtime Atlantic Yards combatants, but the battles these days are surely less pitched. If they secure an anchor tenant, like a major Internet company looking for a marquee space, the project might get some momentum. Building such a massive project at that site also might galvanize opposition, though the proposed 80 Flatbush plan nearby may have started to reshape perspectives about scale.

Expect continued concern--and, potentially, local battles--over project-related retail, as for example the  retailer/bar/restaurant Mekelburg's (the first tenant at 535 Carlton) seeks State Liquor Authority approval for a 4 am closing on weekends at a residential corner.

More questions: new buildings, sales, open space

But starting a new building relies on some complex financial calculations, and if it involves affordable housing, questions about the level of affordability. Given the bad publicity in 2017 about affordable units left empty because there were no takers, perhaps public officials will feel less comfortable approving buildings with significant tranches of middle-class apartments.

Given that Forest City Realty Trust/Forest City New York is selling the only building it owns outright, 461 Dean, a new owner could enter the mix. Could that presage future sales and an even more complex mix of owners? A reconfiguration of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture? Stay tuned.

There should be incremental progress on open space, the railyard, and perhaps even retail space. It's not clear, though, how many former footprint renters have returned.

As to the promised Independent Compliance Monitor for the Community Benefits Agreement, we'll see. Ditto for any increased role for the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, with only a few members embracing the watchdog role and likely will see some more turnover among its members.

At the arena

The Barclays Center will eventually say goodbye to the New York Islanders, whose owners--as part of a larger group--will build a new arena at Belmont Park. The Isles will stay for a fourth year, but it's not clear where they'll play the next year (and beyond, if the new arena develops slowly).

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BS&E), which operates both Barclays and the Nassau Coliseum, would like the Islanders to move, at least part of their fifth season, to the downsized Coliseum, and the National Hockey League, previously resistant to a permanent move, may give its blessing. It probably doesn't hurt that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Borough President Eric Adams have hailed that idea, likely taking their cues from BS&E. Expect a decision to be announced soon.

The Barclays Center, while busy, has faced profit pressures with the Islanders, but it's unclear how much opening up 44 dates--and shedding an onerous contract--will help.

The Brooklyn Nets look to remain scrappy, but with injuries to guards Jeremy Lin and D'Angelo Russell remain challenged to reach a .500 record, much less the playoffs. The Islanders, though, should make the playoffs.

What's the 2018 surprise?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, as I've said, a "never say never" project, so we shouldn't be surprised to see a surprise.

Perhaps it will be a new owner for part of the project, beyond 461 Dean. Perhaps it will be a divestment by Forest City, or a merger, as its board is considering various alternatives to enhance share value. Perhaps, as I speculated last year, it will be tension between Greenland and Forest City, given that different perspectives on the buildout have already surfaced.

Perhaps it will be more discussion of 2025, the deadline date for the affordable housing, which is getting harder to reach, and the compromises--in terms of affordability or even extensions--it may provoke.

As of now, 782 affordable units have been built, out of 2,250 pledged, leaving 1,468 to be built. Some are expected in very large buildings over the railyard. But those buildings were expected to be 50% market-rate, and, as of now, there's been little appetite to build market-rate units, given a current glut. But developers build for the future, so we'll see.