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

Waiting for Site 5: contracts for state monitors will be revisited once giant project across from arena moves forward

This is the third 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. I wasn't able to attend but am relying on an audiotape of the meeting. 

Questions about the state's monitoring of Pacific Park were again deferred until when an expected seismic change in the project plan surfaces.

As ESD's Atlantic Yards project manager  Tobi Jaiyesimi noted, the state authority's contracts with environmental monitor, the firm HDR, and an owners’ representative, STV, were extended earlier this year with no change in the scope of work.

"And we anticipate that those contracts will be put out for an RFP [Request for Proposals], as we discussed in conversations with [former Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation] Director [Jaime] Stein, once there is additional information about Site 5," Jaiyesimi said.

She referred to developer Greenland Forest City Partners' pending--yet dormant, for now--plan to transfer the bulk of the unbuilt B1 tower (aka "Miss Brooklyn"), once slated to loom over the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues over the arena, to vastly augment the already planned tower at Site 5 across the street, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard.

That could create a two-tower project standing nearly 800 feet, and with about 1.14 million square feet.

"The RFP will be issued for the new environmental monitor and owners rep at the end of that term, taking in additional information about the status of that contract and Site 5," she said.

Why wait?

Given that several towers are expected to begin construction in the next year or two, asked resident Peter Krashes, why is Site 5 the trigger? Writing on behalf of the Dean Street Block Association and Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance, he had previously asked for the monitors' scope of work to be expanded, contending that the current process disserves neighbors, given the monitors' lack of engagement with the public and the delay in publicly posting their reports, among other things.

Jaiyesimi said there was already "precedent established for those monitors we have" to monitor the project.

By contrast, she said, "The plan for Site 5 will require changes to [project's guiding] General Project Plan, and that modification requires a full detailed public review process." That involves public hearings and public comment.

As the contracts for both STV and HDR reach the end of their terms, she said, "we anticipate" that "by then we’ll be able to put up an RFP." That suggests that the Site 5 project could move forward in the next year or two. (The contracts have a renewal option.)

How big, and what next?

"Are we still looking at at an impossibly tall building at Site 5," asked Jim Vogel, a resident of Pacific Street, a mostly row-house block adjacent to Site 5 between Fourth and Flatbush avenues.

"I don’t know what it will look like," professed Jaiyesimi, noting that the public review hasn't begun. (While no current plan has been issued, the previously released documents offer a clue.)

"The trigger for us is Site 5," added Marion Phillips III, ESD's Senior VP for Community Relations, because the guidelines for the environmental monitor have already been established under the Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, and "we don’t really have any leverage, as we’ll have on Site 5, to make changes... It makes more sense when we understand what the [building's] program will be." 

Indeed, the public process would open up leverage. Then again, that doesn't mean the state has no leverage--it's partly a political decision.