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

Architect presenting B4 tower says firm aims to connect neighborhoods with "visual marker"; building due late 2021

This is the fourth among multiple posts concerning the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting Tuesday 10/9/18, held at 55 Hanson Place and sponsored by Empire State Development (ESD). The first post concerned the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation; the second post was about work in the Vanderbilt Yard; the third post concerned contracts for future project monitors and the Site 5 tower. I wasn't able to attend but am relying on an audiotape of the meeting (and the slide presentation). 

B4, view from Atlantic Avenue
Rendering by Perkins Eastman
So, there was a presentation about plans for B4, aka 18 Sixth Avenue, the giant tower slated for the northeast corner of the arena block, with more images than the one released a few weeks ago, as described below..

Greenland USA project manager Scott Solish introduced  Michael Lew, a principal at the architecture firm Perkins Eastman, who's leading the design.

Lew noted that his firm is large, with 1,000 employees worldwide and 58 in New York, with 14 different practice areas, "two of which are relevant": mixed-used and residential. He cited projects, presumably somewhat analogous, including Centria in midtown Manhattan, Flushing Commons in Queens, and 99 Hudson in Jersey City, which will be the state's tallest building.

A new neighborhood?

The architect sounded enthusiastic, calling Pacific Park "a great project, a great master plan" and citing "the introduction of a new neighborhood within the existing neighborhoods."

Such language--ignoring the fact that the boundaries of Prospect Heights encompass nearly all the project, and that 22 acres hardly makes a neighborhood--rankled at least some in the audience.

Connecting neighborhoods with a "visual marker"

Lew said his firm aimed to "really enliven the streetscape" and to "connect the old and new neighborhoods," with the latter Downtown Brooklyn. The site is transitional, with commercial space to the west, and residential to the east.

Also, he said, the building would create "a visual marker" for Pacific Park. Indeed, at 511 feet (and about 50 stories) the second tallest building in the project, it would be quite noticeable. But the B1 tower, aka "Miss Brooklyn," was originally supposed to serve that purpose, and presumably the Site 5 tower--which still awaits an approval process--would be even more of a marker.

Note that the above image omits the planned Site 5 project catercorner to the arena block, as well as the significant 550 Clinton tower--not part of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park but a sibling--catercorner to the project's northeast tip.

Sculpting a base, a "crystal" and a "gem"

The B4 site next to the Barclays Center is replacing no building--it will be built into a piece of the Vanderbilt Yard--so there's little context.

Lew said his firm was following the state's design guidelines, and was "sculpting the building" with a solid base, of grey brick" and then a "crystal" facing south and a "gem" facing Downtown Brooklyn. (The difference in texture is not obvious in the original rendering, but the images below offer some suggestion.)

The residential entrance would be on Sixth Avenue, below Atlantic Avenue, while the base would be all retail. The building is slated to have more than 50,000 square feet of retail--a mini-mall, perhaps?--with retail likely in the second and third floors.

A glass building, Lew noted, was not as a powerful as a masonry building, which "could look heavy, at this size." The building becomes more transparent as it rises, he said.

Units, timing, parking, FAR

Solish said there'd be between 800 and 820 rental apartments (the DOB filing said 810), with the affordability percentage yet undetermined, but at least 25%. As of now, the developers don't expect extra city subsidies, but would gain the 421-a tax break, which mandates affordability.

Greenland Forest City aims to start excavation foundation work in the first quarter of 2019 and aims at a 36-month buildout, which suggests completion at the end of 2021.

The building won't have parking; there will be 900 spaces on the southeast block.

Asked the Floor Area Ratio on the building--a measure of bulk as a multiple of a fully covered lot--Solish ducked the question, saying that the state mandated a maximum 824,000 square feet. I calculated an FAR of 24.4, which is a very large figure, nearly 2.5 times the average FAR (10.3, not including the streetbeds) of the western end of the project's site.

For context, the maximum FAR in the rezoned Downtown Brooklyn was 12, but the recently approved 80 Flatbush project will have an FAR of 15.75.