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

Railyard update, with questions about foundation; demolition work and East Portal progress; Times Plaza open space still pending

This is the fourth of several articles based on discussion at the 1/22/19 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. The first concerned timing for the B15 tower, with school, and the B4 tower. The second concerned questions about the affordability of future income-restricted housing. The third concerned plans to constrict streets around the B15 tower. 

When will the permanent Vanderbilt Yard be finished?

"We’re going to complete the permanent [rail] yard this year," Greenland USA's Scott Solish said in May 2018. "We’re in active design of the platform work, that enables us to build the buildings on top of the platform."

In October 2018, he said the final two tracks were supposed to be installed in the fourth quarter of the year. According to the most recent Construction Update, the third rail for two storage tracks was still being installed.

So what's the current timetable for completion, I asked. Is there a hard deadline?

He said there's no new deadline, since "when one part finishes, there’s more work happening."

For example, he said that Greenland was working on designing the platform above the railyard and is in the final testing of LIRR office space there, and moving an electrical substation. "We're hopeful it will be spring second quarter when that will wrap up."

Foundation work and the railyard

Have the footings been installed for the buildings planned for the western eastern block of the railyard, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue?

"The preplacement of foundations is finished," Solish said. (That doesn't encompass the deck, however.)

"You're not going to have to move the railyard again or move tracks at all?" asked resident Peter Krashes.

"There will be additional track work that has to happen," Solish said, noting that a track may have to be taken out of service during platform construction and then restored. "It's hard to build buildings of this size over active tracks, so it will be coordinated with the railroad."

"So railyard operations will be impacted by the construction of the platform?" asked Krashes.

Solish nodded yes. I'm not sure this is something that has gotten much, if any, discussion in the past.

Demolition of "bump" buildings

Solish showed photos of demolition occurring at the two buildings that "bump" into the Vanderbilt Yard from Atlantic Avenue.

The back of the building in the photo below has been mostly demolished, and workers are moving to the front, he noted. Below is a view looking west toward the Barclays Center.

Below is a view looking north toward the buildings.

Below is a view looking east, and down, presumably from a residential tower.

Solish noted that pre-demolition activities are occurring and the building to the west, closer in the photo above. Scaffolding should go up in the next week or two for the work, which is all hand demolition.

I asked Solish about the photo of the brick that had apparently fallen into the railyard from the demolition work.

"There was a loose piece of brick that had fallen," he said, noting that the developer is working with the Long Island Rail Road to see if any additional steps need to be taken.

Has there been any change in procedure, or sanction?

No, said Solish, adding that "safety is of the utmost importance."

A piece of the railyard at the B4 site

Though nearly all the railyard function has been moved east of Sixth Avenue (previously a section that is now below the arena was functional), Solish pointed to a drill track rack enclosure--used to direct trains from Atlantic Terminal into the storage yard--"is being relocated to its final and permanent home," in the northeast corner of the arena block.

A "room" will be built around that small piece of track, about 10 feet, and then the B4 tower, aka 18 Sixth Avenue, will be built around the drill track enclosure.

At the East Portal

Solish also updated attendees on work at the Vanderbilt Yard's East Portal, at Vanderbilt and Atlantic avenues, which offers another passageway for rail cars.

He said the current MPT, or Maintenance and Protection of Traffic, will be "hopefully" reduced back to previous phase in early March.

That would allow pedestrian passage on Vanderbilt Avenue sidewalks, though Atlantic Avenue sidewalks would still be blocked, and traffic lanes on Atlantic would remain constricted.

Planned upgrades at Times Plaza
Times Plaza still pending

Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project manager for Empire State Development, said the plan to create open space at Times Plaza, the triangle just below Flatbush Avenue at Fourth and Atlantic avenues, is still pending.

In October 2017, I reported that the promised improvement of open space at Times Plaza, which is a required mitigation under the 2014 Atlantic Yards Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, wouldn't occur until the second quarter of 2018, at best. That, of course, didn't happen.

The design had been approved by the Public Design Commission, said Jaiyesemi last May, but there was no timetable for the work.

"The construction drawings are with DOT [Department of Transportation] and they are pending the construction team's design review," Jaiyesimi said. "Times Plaza is a very unique site… there are a number of logistical infrastructure constraints that they need to work around." The requires interagency coordination regarding utilities and the Department of Environmental Protection.