A few signs of progress, notably completed infrastructure and a coming demolition, were announced at last night’s bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. But they were dwarfed by the persistent question marks about the project’s timing.
What are the plans of Greenland USA, the 95% owner of the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture going forward, company official Scott Solish was asked.
Solish deflected the question, saying the company’s focus as of now is on B4, the huge tower planned for the northeast corner of the arena block and targeted to start in the spring of 2019. It is expected to rise 511 feet and contain some 825,000 square feet, enough for at least 750 apartments.
According to tentative plans circulated in 2014, that tower would contain 551 rental units, half of them affordable, plus 213 condos, but that configuration likely will change.
“As we push forward on that, we’ll have more news,” Solish said. “Obviously, we have our obligations to the state.” That was a reference to the fines facing the company if the promised 2,250 affordable units are built by 2025; 782 have been built, a little more than one-third of the requirement, leaving 1,468 to go.
Many people thought the 2,250 deadline that meant the entire project, when it was slated to include several large 50% affordable buildings, would have to be finished by then. But that seems unlikely, especially since a Forest City Realty Trust official said in 2016 that the company's financial model extended to 2035--implying completion of construction not long before that.
But Forest City is no longer in the driver's seat and Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a “never-say-never” project, so stay tuned.
Site 5 and B15
Nor did Solish have any news on the giant two-tower project floated for Site 5, currently home to Modell’s and P.C. Richard, at the block bounded by Pacific Street and Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues.
I suspect that Greenland is waiting to see how the plans for 80 Flatbush, an unrelated but equallty giant two-tower project proposed for a site just two blocks away, make it through the City Planning Commission and City Council.
What about B15, the site planned for a tower known as 664 Pacific and a long-awaited middle-school, dubbed M.S. One Brooklyn?
|670 Pacific, with fence around B15|
Asked if the building’s program was the same, Solish said it would still be 300 units, but hinted that it would no longer be 100% market rentals, as previously proposed. “We have to look at it based on the financing that’s available.”
According to the most recent Capital Plan for the New York City School Construction Authority, construction is now expected to begin in July 2019, with an estimated completion date of June 2021, thus offering the possibility it could be open for the 2021-22 school year. Then again, as I pointed out, the schedule has regularly been pushed back.
"Bump buildings" going down, finally
For more than two years, the biweekly Construction Updates have announced possible demolition of
|"Bump" buildings, via Google StreetView|
Solish said "we expect demolition to hopefully start in next two to three month." They're preparing for the MPT, the maintenance and protection of traffic.
Unlike with previous demolitions, this occurs near sensitive activities, at the railyard, and will thus mostly be done by hand. So it could take four or five months.
Are there any plans for extermination as a part of the demolition, he was asked.
"We’ll make sure we speak to the contractors about that," he said.
Foundation work and big ramp
Ashley Cotton, a former Forest City New York executive now representing the company while working for the new firm L&L MAG, said that foundation work for future tours "that we talked about as additional scope"--adding time for the completion of the revamped Vanderbilt Yard--is now done.
(Note: Cotton said "Forest City, who I am representing here today," while in January she said “The contract is with Forest City, but I speak on behalf of the joint venture.")
That foundation work is a precursor to the deck needed for vertical construction, but it was unclear how much of the overall foundation work is done and what the timetable is for the deck.
“So we figured out a more efficient, more sophisticated, smarter way to do this... so we added scope to what we call the West Portal work, and therefore changed the date of completion,” she said.
That doesn’t mean delays, it just means a shift, with more work up front. “if you add platform foundation, building foundations to what we’re going in the bed of that railyard work, it will take us longer...thus December 2017.”
|Looking north from Pacific Street|
Cotton also said, "I want to fill you in on the amazing ramp" that extends into the railyard east from the Sixth Avenue bridge between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue.
"It will have a curb cut… a building will go on top of it.. it’s a permanent ramp for LIRR employees," she said. It will accommodate daily entry and maintenance vehicles and will be gated. "Ultimately there will be a garage on top of it."
I had asked both the developer and the state about this ramp in June, but got no answer.
What about the vertical structure--"a little lighthouse," one resident put it--near Carlton Avenue in the railyard.
It’s a stairwell for employees to go in and out, Cotton said, and it's permanent. It was constructed offsite and installed.
What’s current outlook for completion of railyard, asked resident Gib Veconi.
"It is the same: early 2019," said Cotton. Note that, as of October 2015, the railyard was supposed to be finished by December 2017. In other words, timetables are typically stretched.