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

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2019: new buildings to start; timetable mysteries (affordable housing 2025?); Islanders/arena questions

Here's my 2018 retrospective.

This year might be something of a re-boot for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

After more than three years (likely nearly four) without vertical development, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2019 likely will see at least two new towers start in 2019, B4 (18 Sixth) and B15 (previously called 664 Pacific).

The former, located at the northeast corner of the arena block, involves Greenland USA, which controls Greenland Forest City Partners (does that name even persist, given Forest City's acquisition by Brookfield?), and was the largest residential building announced in 2018. The 511-foot tower, with some 810 units, will be 100% rental, though the affordability percentage is unclear.

Graphic by Ben Keel, with research by Norman Oder; last updated in November 2018
By contrast, B15--across Sixth Avenue from the arena block, between Dean and Pacific Streets--involves The Brodsky Organization, one of the two new developers to enter the scene in 2018. B15 will contain a middle school, and could open by 2021. It too will be rental, and contain some affordable units.

The timetable for the next two towers, B12 and B13, with the sites leased by Greenland to TF Cornerstone, is unclear, but those towers--the last available on terra firma, on the project's southeast block--could start in 2019 or 2020 and likely will have some affordable units.

Update: Note that the Real Deal suggests a Brooklyn "inventory balloon," which casts doubt on adding new supply too soon.

What next?

There should be new momentum for Empire State Development, the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project, to begin the long-gestating process to approve new bulk at Site 5, long home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, and seemingly destined for a giant two-tower project, once proposed as rising 785 feet.

The emergence of other large projects nearby (the approved 80 Flatbush, the proposed 625 Fulton) will make it tougher--though not unreasonable--to argue that an adjacent row-house block deserves a more tempered transition. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see a revamped Site 5 proposal that's even bigger, at least for negotiation purposes.

What's the timetable?

The largest looming question regards a building-by-building project timetable, which was supposed to be updated in 2018, but was never issued.

Will Greenland USA show a path to completing the required 2,250 affordable units--1,468 remain to be built--by May 2025? That path seems questionable, but not impossible.

If they don't show that path, will they explain why--and how--they expect to either pay the required fines for delay, or get out of that requirement?

Will Greenland describe a plan to complete the full project by 2035? That's a much longer leash, but the six huge towers over the railyard would be spaced out, to ensure survival in the market.

Who's watching?

The perpetual question regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park involves oversight, and the chance that government entities will look hard at the project. That chance seems ever diminished.

The departure of Forest City Realty Trust, however lacking in candor, may eliminate one form of corporate reporting.

More importantly, the diminishment--loss of members, no meeting for nine months--of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) means that mostly toothless organization has lost more teeth, and will provide even less of a check on Empire State Development.

The questions that remain

Beyond the significant questions about the project timetable and the affordable housing timetable, other questions persist.

What would the affordability levels be of future units?

What about those promised affordable condos? Will joint venture ever build 200 onsite, as promised, or does that lack of 421-a benefits somehow provide an out? Similarly, would Forest City--actually, its successor Brookfield--build 400+ condos offsite?

What's the schedule for the permanent rail yard, which was supposed to be completed in 2018?

How far along is the platform, the base for future towers?

The Times Plaza plan
What about the plan to create open space at Times Plaza, once expected to arrive in 2018?

What will be the impact of--and oversight toward--increased construction, with at least two towers expected to start?

How will the finally-opening retail spaces at 550 Vanderbilt (and also 535 Carlton?) be received?

What about the yet-unrented retail spaces, especially at 461 Dean and even the perpetually unfilled space on the Flatbush Avenue side of Barclays Center?

(And how might the owner of the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls--which Forest City sold--upgrade those spaces?)

Barclays Center questions

Given the vexed move of the New York Islanders to Barclays, and their part-time presence now, perhaps they will move even more games, or even full-time, this fall to the Nassau Coliseum, during the interim years in which an arena in Belmont is expected to be built. (It hasn't yet been approved.)

Perhaps the scrappy Brooklyn Nets will make the playoffs and make more progress rebuilding their fan base.

What's the surprise?

There's (almost) always a surprise each year with this project, so what could the 2019 surprise be?

Perhaps, now that Greenland has opened the door to new developers, the firm will find a partner or buyer for the Site 5 project. (It seems less likely, at this point, to find a partner for building over the railyard.)

Perhaps Greenland will surprise us regarding the timetable for either the affordable housing or the full project.

Other questions

Will the increased skepticism toward EB-5 investment immigration, especially from Chinese investors who feel ripped off, lead to new scrutiny of the three tranches of funds delivered to this project?

As I've written, it's unclear when the first round of Atlantic Yards EB-5 investors will be paid back, despite a seeming seven-year deadline and a claimed "completed project."

The 2021 election season is getting closer, which means candidates for Borough President (including Council Member Laurie Cumbo?) and candidates for Mayor (surely Borough President Eric Adams, and Comptroller Scott Stringer, among them) will seek even more of the spotlight. We'll see how much their rhetoric deals with development, and projects like these.

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