Yes, Gilmartin says she expects Site 5 to be built, rejects her company's original "urban planning decision"
Of course. As reported yesterday by The Real Deal, Adding some zeroes: Is Pacific Park ready for a 1M sf office tower?:
Building a 1 million-square-foot-plus tower with significant office space at site five — occupied by P.C. Richard & Son and a Modell’s — would help amend that, she said during a panel at TerraCRG’s Only Brooklyn conference on Wednesday.Of course, the idea of landing a Frank Gehry tower in front of Frank Gehry's beautiful arena came from her own company. Four towers were supposed to be built along with the arena, before it was downsized and decoupled from those towers. Now, it would be expensive and complicated--as well as a burden on arena operators--to built the tower at that wedge between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
Such a building would require public approvals and the transfer of air rights from the arena. Those rights were once pegged for a 62-story skyscraper next to the arena, designed by Frank Gehry and dubbed “Miss Brooklyn.”
“To me, at the end of the day, it seems to me a much better urban planning decision to put more density on that site than to muck up our beautiful arena by landing a building in front of it,” she told The Real Deal after the panel.
And the idea of limiting density on Site 5 (named as a plot within the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area) to 250 feet and some 440,000 square feet--not a small building--came from the New York City Planning Commission, which, in 2006 successfully recommended reductions in the height and bulk of the Site 5 tower, noting how it transitioned to lower-rise Fourth Avenue and the retail stores west on Atlantic Avenue.
What might be coming
Documents circulated in 2016 revealed a potential two-tower project, at 1.1 million square feet and up to 785 feet tall. That's a dramatic juxtaposition with low-rise Pacific Street across the street.
That said, if the 80 Flatbush project two blocks north, rising potentially 986 feet, gets approved without major modifications, there will be some precedent for a giant tower across the street from row houses. That will be decided well before Site 5 moves forward.
The planned eminent domain to extract P.C. Richard has been stalled by a lawsuit filed by the retailer's corporate parent, claiming it was promised space in the replacement development. The document upon which P.C. Richard asserts its right to future space is not public, and defendant Forest City Ratner (now Forest City New York) disputes P.C. Richard's claim.
Presumably, there's a financial settlement that would resolve the dispute; a discount appliance retailer may no longer be the right fit for upscale retail space.
Anchor tenant coming?
Site 5 has previously been suggested as a home for Panasonic and has been proposed as potentially Amazon's new headquarters. It's far tougher, though not impossible, to build an office tower without an anchor tenant, even one--as Site 5 has been proposed--with major retail (a la Time Warner Center), a hotel, and some residential space.
The Real Deal reported:
Much of Wednesday’s discussion focused on the fact that Brooklyn has yet to attract major office tenants and that new development is disproportionately residential. Two Trees Management’s Jed Walentas said signing on smaller office tenants currently makes more economic sense in the borough. Gilmartin agreed, but said there’s an “inevitability” that bigger companies will find Brooklyn prices compelling enough to move.That's not unreasonable, but the "vision and guts" may have to come with some subsidies.
“It only takes one very large company, someone with vision and guts and ability to see that it’s a good move,” she said. “Once that happens, I think others will do it.”
Bisnow quoted Gilmartin as saying the Brooklyn offered advantages, given tax incentives and a cheaper price per SF, while Walentas said productivity trumped cost.
Seeing the project through
Bisnow quoted Gilmartin has a “duty” to see the Pacific Park project through. Of course, that's not just a "duty," it's a job. Forest City, which sold 70% of the project (excepting 461 Dean and the arena operating company) to Greenland USA in 2013, is in the process of selling all but 5% of the remaining project to Greenland.
Gilmartin left to do ground-up development at her new firm, as Forest City, operating as a real estate investment trust (REIT), is now less ambitious. But she and her team are still wrangling Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park via public relations and governmental relations.
The public process to shift the bulk from Miss Brooklyn to Site 5 could take at least a year, but there's no reason to expect Empire State Development, the gubernatorially-controlled state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, will say no to the developer.
Selling the Nets
From today's panel: MaryAnne Gilmartin said Forest City sold its stake in the Nets at the "absolute worst moment" because the company had to. She joked about discussions that led up to it: "You just dropped a 100M turd in the punchbowl, and everyone's focused on the draft picks"— Kathryn Brenzel (@katiebrenzel) May 16, 2018
I believe she was talking about the first sale (since she says they weren't yet a REIT at that point), though she didn't say. In terms of the $100M comment, she wasn't super specific — she said it was a "dark moment," when the arena was over-budget, delayed...— Kathryn Brenzel (@katiebrenzel) May 16, 2018