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

What about that former LIRR stables going down? Conversion to residential would "constrain the goals of the master plan"

I've barely written about that building, but rather far more about Ward Bread Bakery, a more monumental and significant structure, for which some of the same caveats were offered.

But let's go to the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement. From Chapter 7, Cultural Resources:
Demolition of the former Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Stables at 700 Atlantic Avenue and the former Ward Bread Bakery complex at 800 Pacific Street would constitute significant adverse impacts. The potential reuse of these properties as part of the proposed project has been studied, but it has been determined that there is no feasible or prudent alternative to their demolition. Therefore, if the action is approved, measures to partially mitigate the demolition of these resources would be developed in consultation with OPRHP [Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation].
The history

The history, with some emphases added in bold, from the same chapter:
In 1892, LIRR built a new brick station for its Flatbush Terminal at the northeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. At the time of the City of Brooklyn’s incorporation into Greater New York in 1898, Brooklyn was the third largest city in the United States. 
LATE 19TH/EARLY 20TH CENTURY TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS
The turn of the century brought additional transportation improvements and made the area even more accessible. A dramatic change in the study area was brought about by the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project, which eliminated all but two LIRR grade crossings on Atlantic Avenue. The Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project was proposed in 1897 in conjunction with a new LIRR tunnel beneath the East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. By 1900, the East River tunnel proposal (which was subsequently abandoned) had been separated from the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project. In 1901, ground was broken for the Atlantic Avenue Improvement Project, which resulted in the removal of the LIRR steam railroad from the surface of Atlantic Avenue, construction of a railroad cut and tracks beneath Atlantic Avenue, and electrification of the railroad line. The goal of the project was to reduce blight along Atlantic Avenue, remove dangerous at-grade crossings, and eliminate the formidable barrier that separated the residential areas to the north and south. 
In conjunction with the removal of the surface railroad, LIRR expanded its existing freight yard, located on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between 6th and Carlton Avenues. By 1910, this freight yard was expanded to the east to Vanderbilt Avenue and to the west to 6th Avenue, resulting in a large three-block freight yard south of Atlantic Avenue between 5th and Vanderbilt Avenues. To build the yard, the commercial, manufacturing, and residential buildings on the blocks were demolished and the blocks were excavated to the depth of the rail tracks beneath Atlantic Avenue, with tracks and related depot buildings placed within the depressed rail yard. The west side of the yard was designed for the storage of passenger cars while the east section served as a public rail freight delivery yard. The public freight yard was designed to allow for the receipt of raw materials and dispatch of manufactured goods. Deliveries to and from the freight yard were made by teams of horses. As part of the improvements, LIRR built three-story brick stables at 700 Atlantic Avenue to serve its Long Island Express. This building is privately owned and now used for storage purposes by an entity not associated with LIRR. 
Additional transportation improvements in the early 20th century included a new and larger LIRR Flatbush Terminal (now demolished), which opened in 1907, replacing the 1892 building. In 1908 the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Company extended its subway service into Brooklyn beneath Flatbush Avenue, with a stop located at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. A control house for the IRT was also built on a triangular parcel at the juncture of Atlantic, Flatbush, and 4th Avenues, in 1908.
More description:
The former LIRR Stables building at 700 Atlantic Avenue is a three-story red brick structure with its primary façade facing Atlantic Avenue (see No. 1 of Figure 7-2 and Figure 7-3). The building has flat-arched windows with narrow terracotta cornices and stylized parapets. The building slopes down to four stories at the level of the rail yard adjoining it to the south. The ground-floor windows on Atlantic Avenue and all the windows on the south and west façades have been sealed with concrete block. The building is currently privately owned and utilized as a storage warehouse by an entity not associated with LIRR. 
The stables were built in 1906 by LIRR to serve its adjacent Vanderbilt freight yard, which functioned as an intermodal facility, providing for the receipt of raw material by rail and the dispatching of materials by teams of horses to the surrounding area. The building was designed by Harold Frederick Saxelbye, who is best known for his designs of buildings in Jacksonville, Florida, in partnership with Mulford Marsh. OPRHP determined that the former LIRR Stables building meets Criterion A of the National Register criteria for its association with the industrial history of the area.
The rationale for demolition

From the document:
Although development would not occur during Phase I on the sites of the LIRR Stables at 700 Atlantic Avenue and the former Ward Baking complex at 800 Pacific Street until 2016, these buildings would be demolished to create staging areas for construction and to provide interim parking.

Demolition of the former LIRR Stables and the former Ward Bread Bakery complex would constitute a significant adverse impact on historic resources. Since the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery complex have been determined S/NR-eligible, a feasibility study was undertaken to determine (1) if the buildings could be converted to residential use, (2) if alterations to convert the buildings would impact their historic character, and (3) whether retaining the buildings would meet or constrain the goals of the master plan (see Appendix B). To determine the feasibility of converting the buildings for residential use, several scenarios were explored. The first of these scenarios studied maximizing the number of units within the existing structures’ footprints. To conservatively estimate the number of units that could be provided in the buildings, it was assumed that the first floors of both buildings would be all residential units, when in fact lobby and ground floor retail spaces would take the place of some units. Based on these assumptions, the LIRR Stables building in its current configuration could yield 51 residential units (a total of 17 units per floor in the three-story building) including studios, 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments. Due to the depth of the existing building, the layout would result in larger, deep units with the interior portions (away from the windows) lacking access to light and air. It would also result in a central non-habitable space in the building ( e.g. for storage and circulation), resulting in approximately 2,700 square feet of nonhabitable (non-sellable) space, excluding circulation such as stairs, corridors, and elevators. To maximize the sellable square feet per floor (and eliminate the central non-habitable area), a different layout would result in the same number of units, but they would correspondingly be larger and deeper (approximately 20 percent larger than typical). This would increase the problems of access to light and air in the interior (rear) portions of the apartments away from the windows and would diminish the price per square foot and market value of the units.
According to the document, numerous modifications would be required, including new windows, changed floor alignment, and facade repair. The document said it wouldn't work:
Retaining the buildings and reconfiguring the buildings to allow for parking would result in a loss of 483 parking spaces in the area of the former Ward Bread Bakery and 90 spaces in the area of the former LIRR Stables, resulting in a total reduction of 573 spaces out of the 3,800 spaces required for the project. Due to the resulting large, light and air challenged, and inefficient units and layouts that would result from the conversion scenarios described above, other options, less desirable from a preservation standpoint, were also considered.

As described above, together the conversions of the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery could generate 154 units. This is compared to the 914 units that are proposed in the three buildings proposed on the sites of the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery (Buildings 6, 12, and 13). Converting the buildings would therefore result in a net loss of 760 units without any change in land or infrastructure costs.
That's an interesting calculation, because it does not address the cost of delay, with rising construction costs and the costs of carrying the property, as well as rising base income levels for affordable housing. It says that the cost would've precluded affordable housing, at least at that time, requiring condos.

Now they're not building any condos. Could a smaller project have been built faster?

The chapter notes that building on top of the former LIRR Stables was not feasible, while "the building’s location at the edge of the rail yard would pose a host of structural issues." Also, creating a platform "would remove this building’s original context." and "retaining the buildings constrains the goals of the master plan," including open space, a storm water retention basin, and "the proposed north-south visual and pedestrian corridors."

What about mitigation?

From Chapter 19, Mitigation, measures to partially mitigate the impact of demolition include "archival documentation":
HISTORIC RESOURCES
LIRR Stables and the Ward Bread Bakery Complex
Since the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery complex have been determined S/NR-eligible, a feasibility study was undertaken to determine (1) if the buildings could be converted to residential use, (2) if alterations to convert the buildings would impact their historic character, and (3) whether retaining the buildings would meet or constrain the goals of the proposed project’s master plan. As detailed in Chapter 7, “Cultural Resources,” the feasibility analysis determined that based on a number of constraints it would neither be prudent nor feasible to retain these two historic buildings.
Project construction by 2010 would involve the demolition of these two historic resources on the project site. Measures to partially mitigate the impact of the demolition of these historic resources, which include Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) archival documentation of the buildings and additional measures that would document the history of the buildings have been developed in consultation with OPRHP and are stipulated in the Letter of Resolution (LOR) among ESDC, OPRHP, and the project sponsors. The LOR among the New York State ESDC, OPRHP, and the project sponsors, outlines protective and mitigation measures related to cultural resources, has been included in Appendix B of the FEIS.
Unavoidable impacts

From the Final EIS, Chapter 21, Unavoidable Adverse Impacts, the measures and constraints noted above are summarized:
Demolition of the former Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) LIRR Stables and the former Ward Bread Bakery complex would constitute a significant adverse impact on historic resources. Since the former (LIRR) Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery complex have been determined to be State/National Register-eligible, a feasibility study was undertaken to determine (1) if the buildings could be converted to residential use, (2) if alterations to convert the buildings would impact their historic character, and (3) whether retaining the buildings would meet or constrain the goals of the master plan. 
As detailed in Chapter 7, “Cultural Resources,” the study explored several scenarios for converting the buildings to residential use. The study found that each of the conversion scenarios would require substantial modifications to the buildings, including insertion of new window openings in blank facades, substantial changes to floor alignment and circulation, extensive repair and replacement on the former Ward Bread Bakery, and substantial renovations to the buildings to meet the requirements of the current New York City Building Code. The study concluded that retaining the buildings by converting them to residential use would compromise the historic character of the buildings themselves and that retaining these structures as part of the master plan would also leave the structures in a dramatically altered context. 
Furthermore, retaining these buildings would constrain the goals of the master plan. The footprints of the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery complex would infringe on the proposed north-south visual and pedestrian corridors, and retaining these buildings would require the elimination of a considerable amount of open space, a major project amenity. 
Retaining these two historic buildings would also affect the project’s constructability and proposed program and would either result in a reduction of residential units that could be provided, or the proposed redesign of Buildings 6, 12 and possibly other buildings. This could require that some structures be made taller to make up for the loss in the proposed residential gross square footage at the sites of the historic structures. 
Based on these constraints and on the study of the reuse scenarios, it has been determined that it would not be feasible to retain the former LIRR Stables or the former Ward Bread Bakery complex as part of the proposed project. In a letter dated October 30, 2006, the New York City Office of Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) concurred that there is no prudent or feasible reuse alternative. Demolition of the former LIRR Stables and former Ward Bread Bakery complex would constitute a significant adverse impact on historic resources. Measures to partially mitigate the demolition of these historic resources have been developed in consultation with OPRHP and are stipulated in the Letter of Resolution (LOR) among the New York StateEmpire State Development Corporation (ESDC), Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), OPRHP, and the project sponsors (see Chapter 19, Mitigation.”).

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