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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + project FAQ (pinned post)

Project updates: retail, open space, railyard work, a truck gets moved, AY CDC schedule fuzzy

Well, the main news from the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting 7/10/18 concerned the murky timetable and some coming demolitions, but I wanted to add a few more details.

Retail updates

Ashley Cotton, a former Forest City New York executive now representing the company while working for L&L MAG, said that one of the coming tenants at 550 Vanderbilt, the bar Beer Street, will soon be coming to Community Board 8 for its advisory opinion on a liquor license.

She said news is “hopefully coming soon” regarding retail tenants at 535 Carlton, but would not provide details. As reported, the retailer/cafe/eatery Mekelburg’s was exploring a liquor license, with neighbors concerned about a possible 4 am closing.

Open space

Regarding plans to create open space at Times Plaza, just across from the arena, she said that the Department of Transportation is “still reviewing that design.” That project, at one point, was projected to go forward in the second quarter of 2018.

The conservancy overseeing the project open space has officially been formed, Cotton said.

Rats and weeds

Cotton said she’d been prepared to say she’d heard no new complaints about rats and trash, but had just received a message that day. “I walked down Dean Street and saw weeds growing at B15,” the site just east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets.

She said she’d talked with Pinnacle, the company overseeing building management at 38 Sixth, which has been tasked with maintaining the site across the street. “We haven’t changed anything… things grow faster… they have not seen an increase in rodent activity.”

Some neighbors said that there’s still a neighborhood rat problem, and the developer should fix holes in the fence. Cotton said she’d make sure that got looked at, as well as attention to faster growing weeds in this summer season.

The site perimeter

Cotton said paving and sidewalk work on Dean Street was done, and tree guards had been fixed.

Sidewalk work around the arena Barclays is done done, except punch work. Indeed, some trees are on back.

Railyard work

Cotton reminded attendees that work on the Vanderbilt Yard’s East Portal is ongoing, with severe impacts on the interesection at Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues.

While she couldn’t estimate how long this specific phase would last, she said “all the East Portal work is through the end of year.” (At a previous meeting, she’d said the full impact on traffic was “about three months.”

The B12 site, next to 550 Vanderbilt, has been used for staging and logistics for railyard work, given the lack of space in the yard. Cotton acknowledged that “two incidents we had in the videos”—shot by neighbor Peter Krashes, showing late-night disturbances from work that had not been noticed—“were incredibly hard crushes,” given the amount of staff necessary. “We do not anticipate that kind of intensity again.”

In other words, apologize without sanction.

Barclays Center upgrades oculus

Representing the Barclays Center was Mandy Gutmann, VP for Communications, with her colleague, Heather Hall. (Sarah Berlenbach, the external affairs staffer who typically attended such meeting, is “no longer with the company,” Gutmann said.)

Gutmann said that, as promised, a new computer system to operate the oculus’s flashing ads and announcement has been installed and there “have been no issues for anyone.” That plan was accelerated after several episodes of unplanned after-hours oculus flashing alarmed neighbors.

The arena moves a truck

No longer there
I asked Gutmann why a pickup truck was parked on the sidewalk outside the arena loading dock. (A couple of neighbors have asked me why it was there.)

She confirmed it was a company vehicle, placed there to smooth the path to the loading dock.

It’s also a public sidewalk, I pointed out. Indeed, while it’s not severely blocking pedestrian access, it’s a sign that the arena doesn’t have to follow rules--and encourages further encroachment on public space.)

(And, as one neighbor pointed out, arena security was very quick to eject me and a group on a walking tour when we “trespassed” onto the Barclays pavement just inside the Dean Street sidewalk.)

Gutmann messaged me shortly after the meeting to say that the truck would be moved in a few hours and, indeed, a neighbor reports that it’s now in the pad outside the loading dock. (Given the summer slowdown, the arena has a little more flexibility, so it's worth checking back during crunch time in the fall.)

If only the 78th Precinct were as responsive regarding the rampant parking by cops on public sidewalks.

What about the Neighborhood Support Team?

Regarding a proposed Neighborhood Support Team (NST), a multi-agency approach to community issues, Tobi Jaiyesimi, the state’s Atlantic Yards project manager, said it was still being worked on.

Next Atlantic Yards CDC meeting unclear

When is the next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting? The body, set up to advise Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, is supposed to meet quarterly, but last met in March.

Jaiyesimi, who also serves as AY CDC executive director (thus, essentially, advising herself) tried to explain why residents were given just 24 hours notice before the previous meeting.

She said that they wait until they have a quorum to announce it, and in fact scheduled one meeting but had to cancel it because a quorum was not met. “If one person’s calendar changes, and we lose the quorum, we’re back to square one.”

“We don’t have a date for next AY CDC meeting yet, but please forgive me if it’s with a week’s notice, or it’s two weeks’ notice," she said, "it’s because there are a number of logistical hurdles that I need to go through before…the team can distribute it publicly.”