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

Final permanent Vanderbilt Yard tracks should be installed by end of year (once due earlier); building demolition starts next week

This is the second 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. Here's the first post, regarding the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation. I wasn't able to attend but am relying on an audiotape of the meeting. 

Greenland USA executive Scott Solish, whose firm controls the project, spoke enthusiastically about progress in the Vanderbilt Yard.

"As many of you have seen, the Sixth Avenue ramp [to the railyard] is now finished," he said, so that allows Long Island Rail Road vehicles to access the yard.

(Greenland, after buying out nearly all of Forest City Realty Trust's stake, as of June controlled 95% of the project going forward, but then sold three development sites--B15, B12, B13--to two other developers. There are four towers completed, and 11 more expected.)

Now Greenland Forest City Partners can start to take out the temporary ramp in the eastern section of the railyard that was used for construction vehicles. After that's demolished, "then we can lay Tracks 6 and 7 down, and finish out the track work," Solish said.

That was a reference to the seven-track permanent railyard that original developer Forest City Ratner negotiated in 2009 as a "value engineering" exercise, in place of the nine-track railyard originally promised to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority when Forest City won a 2005 bid for railyard development rights.

The new railyard in the eastern third of the yard is capable of storing, cleaning, and toilet servicing longer trains, given that the LIRR now has longer cars.
"Is the the yard work on your original schedule?" resident Steve Ettlinger asked.

"It's the same schedule that [then Forest City executive] Ashley [Cotton] spoke to, I guess, in 2017," Solish said. He then seemed to acknowledge that the work has been delayed--the tape is fuzzy--"and we’re excited to get it finished." The final two tracks should be installed in "the fourth quarter," he said, meaning by the end of the year.

A history of delays
I'm not exactly sure Cotton provided a public schedule in 2017. Rather, Greenland Forest City in 2015 issued an "anticipated time line" (below), with railyard completion by 2017, and then proceeded to not meet that schedule.

I reported in March about Forest City executives had just disclosed, casually, that the railyard wouldn't be done until the fourth quarter of this year. The company filed a disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission:
More specifically, our agreement with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) requires collateral to be posted and for the construction of the permanent rail yard to be substantially complete by December 2017, subject to force majeure. In 2015, we notified the MTA of a force majeure delay of approximately 16 months, due to unforeseen site conditions.
That delay and 2015 notification was never announced to the public, nor was an updated timetable shared with the public.

What next?

Solish said that work on the platform over the railyard--the base for future vertical construction--will start when the yard is finished. There's no timetable yet for platform construction.

"Currently we’ve been doing pre-placement of foundations for the platform," said Solish, noting that more foundations will go into the vertical buildings.

Other work around the railyard

Demolition of the railyard's East Portal is continuing. A new phase of traffic restrictions, beginning in mid-October, should encroach on one Vanderbilt Avenue lane southbound. That should be in place for about three months, Solish said.

Ongoing is the testing of a new substation, along with the decommissioning of the existing substation, and commissioning of LIRR offices.

Building demolition starts next week

Demolition of the "bump buildings"--which bump into the railyard from Atlantic Avenue--should start next week, he said. Most of the work will be hand demolition, to ensure safeguards over the active railroad tracks, so it takes longer.

"That will hopefully be finished in the first quarter, as well," he said.