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

Next Monday, an open meeting: What's Next for Atlantic Yards? (I'll be a presenter)

The Fort Greene Association sent out a message for its June Open Meeting, which features a public discussion, What's Next for Atlantic Yards?, co-hosted by the Boerum Hill Association, North Flatbush BID, and the North Prospect Heights Association.

I will be among the presenters. I expect the schematic map below will be distributed.

The event will be Monday, June 17, 2019, 7 to 9 pm, at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (S. Oxford Entrance), 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn. Among the questions posed:
  • Why is Atlantic Yards in the news again?
  • What is the timeline for additional affordable housing?
  • When do we get the “Park” in Pacific Park?
  • Who is in charge of Atlantic Yards now?
  • How can the community have input on this project?
Do note: some of these questions don't have clear answers, and there's no dramatic "reveal" planned, as far as I know. This is more an update for those who haven't been following closely. From the announcement text:
The future of Atlantic Yards (Pacific Park), always uncertain, is again in question, and the developers are interested in shifting potentially more than one million square feet of building space to another location in the project. They will need permission, so for the first time in years, our community may have a real chance to help shape this massive project.
The panel discussion featuring speakers with insights into the origins, present and future of this long-running project. We will also discuss how the community can participate-- because change means opportunity, and it is up to us to get involved.
A map from the FAQ page on this blog
A change at Site 5

That announcement text references long-hinted, though not yet activated, plans floated by developer Greenland Forest City Partners to shift most (but likely not all) of the bulk of the unbuilt "Miss Brooklyn" tower--once slated for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, now site of the arena plaza--across Flatbush to Site 5, thus super-sizing the tower already approved there.

No timetable has been announced but, given that plans have been announced for four other towers--B15, B4, B12, B13--to start this year and next, Site 5 is an obvious candidate for future construction. (See further below for schematic map.)
2016 plan for Site 5, transferring bulk from unbuilt building over arena
That will require a public approval process, involving public hearings and a vote by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. While ESD is pretty much a rubber stamp for the governor, such an approval process does offer potential leverage.

The project timeline

As I've reported, developer Greenland Forest City Partners needs to deliver 2,250 affordable--income-linked, below-market, but not necessarily cheap--units by May 2025 to avoid fines. The estimated count of affordable units in buildings already constructed or expected to launch this year and next would leave a deficit of some 900 units.

The developer has refused to provide a timeline, as of yet, and the state hasn't pushed them. Three New York State legislators have asked for a timeline. As I've reported, based on information shared not with the public, the developer seems to have a plan to build three towers over the railyard--including one with "100% affordability"--starting in 2021 and 2022.

But the project's history should always spur skepticism about timeline promises. Atlantic Yards, when announced in 2003, was supposed to take ten years to build, a timeline professed after the project was approved in 2006 and re-approved in 2009. However, contracts gave 25 years, until 2035, for project completion.

A 2014 settlement, averting a potential lawsuit on fair-housing issues organized by the coalition BrooklynSpeaks, set a new 2025 timeline for the affordable units and also established an advisory body, the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC). Documents released by the developer suggested that the entire project would be finished by 2025, with the affordable units coming significantly in towers over the Vanderbilt Yard, which requires an expensive deck.

However, delays in the project upended that schedule. Now the project, including the "park"--actually privately managed, publicly accessible open space--could take until 2035. If so, that means the affordable units would be delivered before project completion.

It also raises the possibility that, if buildings after 2025 contain affordable units, the entire project--slated for 6,430 total apartments, 2,250 of them affordable--might contain a larger number of such units. That said, the devil's in the details: so far, the affordable units have not conformed to the configuration long promised but rather skewed to middle-income units, most aimed at households earning at least six figures.

The AY CDC, as I've reported, has added occasional transparency but been mostly toothless.

Who owns what?

The original developer, Forest City Ratner (later Forest City New York), the New York arm of Forest City Enterprises (later Forest City Realty Trust), in 2014 sold 70% of the project going forward to Greenland USA, an arm of Greenland Group, owned in significant part by the government of Shanghai.

That sale excluded the B2 tower, 461 Dean Street, owned by Forest City (and later sold to Principal Global Investors), and the Barclays Center operating company, at that point majority owned by Forest City, but later sold to the minority owner, Mikhail Prokhorov's Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, now BSE Global. (Prokhorov may sell that operating company to minority--and expected future full--Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai.)

In early 2018, Greenland bought all but 5% of Forest City's share. Since then, Greenland leased development sites B12 and B13, on the southeast block, to developer TF Cornerstone, and B15, across from the arena, between Dean and Pacific streets, to developer The Brodsky Organization. Greenland is also partnering with Brodsky, the terms not so clear, on building B4, a giant tower at the northeast corner of the arena block.

It wouldn't be surprising to see future deals being made, involving joint ventures or full leases.

A note on the hosts

I wasn't involved in organizing this, but it's interesting to see that the Boerum Hill Association, part of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, is allying with the Fort Greene Association, the North Flatbush BID, and the North Prospect Heights Association.

The latter organization, formerly the Dean Street Block Association, represents residents closest to the project, and, as the settlement approached in 2014, left the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) rather endorse the settlement, believing that the AY CDC wouldn't provide sufficient oversight of untoward impacts. It also called for an impartial environmental monitor to oversee the site.

Bottom line: groups representing people in Prospect Heights are not necessarily on the same page.

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