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In 2018, keep watch on not just B4 tower plan but also 615 Dean (no longer condos?)

A post 1/16/18 on the pro-development blog New York YIMBY, accompanying a new rendering of the fully built-out Pacific Park project and highlighting the giant tower planned for Site 5, declared that "all of the structures are within the allowable existing scope of the site."

Not so.

Unwitting readers of New York YIMBY might think developer Greenland Forest City Partners--to be owned 95% by Greenland USA going forward--could just build when it's got the money (and, in the case of Site 5, when legal challenges from P.C. Richard that delay condemnation are resolved).
But building a giant project at Site 5, potentially two towers and 785 feet, requires Empire State Development to approve a shift in bulk from the unbuilt office tower (B1, aka "Miss Brooklyn") over the arena plaza.

And that process hasn't begun. (Both I and resident Peter Krashes posted comments to that effect, which were published, yet the post wasn't corrected.)

In 2018, beyond as-of-right: B4

And it turns out that the giant B4 tower, at the northeast corner of the arena block, stretching 511 feet and encompassing perhaps 750 apartments, will not proceed exactly as of right. 

While Greenland Forest City declared that building the current focus, with design starting now and groundbreaking in perhaps late second-quarter 2019,  as-of-right process, a retainer letter (excerpt above left) with lobbyist Kasirer Consulting indicates expected lobbying on B4.

What could that be? Kasirer's ongoing contract indicates a broad scope of services (right), including work with government and agency officials, legislators, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the governor's office.

So that could mean changing the design or building envelope--remember, that already happened in 2013--or, perhaps, the configuration of affordable housing.

Intriguingly, Kasirer also remains charged to be "Recommending membership, sponsorship and other opportunities that align with business interests and working to raise the profile of key Greenland executives." I can't say the profile of Greenland USA--an arm of Shanghai-based Greenland Holding--has been raised much yet, but stay tuned: 2018 could be the breakout year, given that they now clearly run the project.

In 2018, beyond as-of-right: 615 Dean

With two other towers announced but stalled--the condo 615 Dean (B12, unveiled September 2015) and the market-rate rental-plus school 664 Pacific (B15, unveiled December 2015), I'd wondered why Greenland Forest City hadn't said anything about moving forward.

Well, both would require tweaks, since the 421-a tax break wouldn't apply to buildings that are 100% market-rate, but 615 Dean, at least, is unencumbered by any negotiations with neighbors, as is 664 Pacific.

So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Kasirer has a lobbying retainer regarding 615 Dean (above left).

That suggests that the promised interim open space at B12 and B13--the parcels above Dean Street between the extant 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton--may not last all that long.

615 Dean, by KPF
I presume 615 Dean must require reconfiguration as a rental to get the tax break. That changes the revenue assumptions, and perhaps implies smaller apartments and different fixtures. So, while the design envelope is fixed--well, until and unless the developer goes back to Empire State Development--the program could change.

Park Strategies: 421-a and Site 5

Another series of retainer letters, such as this one from February 2015, detail the developer's relationship with Park Strategies, the lobbying firm run by former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato.

The key issues for Park Strategies have been the future of Site 5 and the revision of the 421-a tax exemption. On that front, Park Strategies has an incomplete and a loss.

The incomplete refers to Site 5, which has been stalled, but could start moving forward this year. The loss regards the significant impact of the 421-a revision that surfaced last April.

That revision excludes condominiums, upending Greenland Forest City's plans. Also, it did not renew the "Atlantic Yards carve-out," which allowed market-rate buildings in the project (including rentals like 664 Pacific) to get the tax break as long as the overall project met a minimum threshold of affordability.

That further upended the developer's plans, and likely contributed to Forest City's decision to mostly leave the project. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the developer and lobbyist are pushing for a further revision to 421-a.
From 2015 Park Strategies retainer with Greenland Forest City Partners

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