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

For platform over railyard, the 2025 deadline should be easy to meet (because that's the start, not the finish)

The year 2022 is a key year in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park timetable, as I wrote last month, because 6/15/22--the last date to start a building under the current Affordable New York tax-incentive program--could be a deadline to start any building contemplated to meet the 5/31/25 deadline for the project's affordable housing.

Caveats: that tax break could be renewed or modified, and a building that starts in 2023 might be finished by 5/31/25, depending on construction speed. And, of course, deadlines for this project have been modified.

Of course, the year 2025 is also key, given that May 2025 affordable housing deadline. (No specific date is specified in the settlement document, just "by May 2025,", so it's the end of the month.)

But let's consider another reason why May 2025, specifically 5/12/25, is important. That's the 15th anniversary of the project's "Effective Date," which is the date Empire State Development finally cleared vacant possession of key project properties after previous condemnation.

About that platform

As I wrote in January 2010, when the project's Development Agreement first surfaced, the second regarding the project's platform stated that the developer must begin construction of the platform over the railyard no later than the 15th anniversary of the Effective Date.

That deadline was one of several that indicated that the project likely would not, as often projected, be completed in ten years but rather could take 25 years, until 2035.

What does "Commencement of Construction" mean? In this case, it means delivery of a completion guarantee required by the applicable development lease for a tower, and the execution of documents that affirm that the platform--"or any portion thereof"--that can support a building in accordance with that development lease.

Note that there's no deadline to complete the platform, just to complete the project, within 25 years of that Effective Date. In other words, as long as they get started, they meet the benchmark.

Wiggle room for deadline

That start deadline seems likely to be met. Greenland Forest City Partners is already designing B5, across from the Barclays Center, a representative of the developer said in March, and is beginning to design adjacent B6 and B7. The three would cover one of two blocks requiring a platform.

As I wrote, a document I acquired suggests that the first three towers, B5 and then B6/B7, would start in Q1 2021 and Q2 2022, respectively, though those dates have not been confirmed.

Even with delays, that offers a lot of room to meet that 5/12/25 deadline to start a building over the platform. In fact, the affordable housing and housing subsidy deadlines seem to require buildings to start by 2022, and some of those buildings will have to be over a platform.

A three-segment platform; initial deadline like to be met

Annotations added, as are columns
 headed Total Time and W/o Foundation
I expressed skepticism in an article for City Limits, as well as a follow-up post, regarding whether that ambitious timetable could be met.

Still, that leaves wiggle room.

After all, as I wrote this past April, a document I acquired described three development phases for platform work, supporting buildings known as B5, B6/B7, and B8/B9/B10--each of which would be divided into four components of work, two of which are completed simultaneously. (Here's the project map.)

Those components include:
  • footings, columns, and foundation walls
  • platform level structure work
  • SOFP (spray-on fireproofing), MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), and lighting
  • structural topping slab and waterproofing
Those last two elements are pursued simultaneously.

Question mark at end

The timetable for preconstruction infrastructure added reason for skepticism, especially regarding the third phase, for the platform and then the towers over the eastern railyard block, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

The eastern block, Block 1121, needs $100M+
for infrastructure before it can support 3 towers
The lingering question, though, regards the third--and most ambitious--segment of the platform, over the eastern railyard block. That requires the most time, the most work, and the most money.

The amount of preliminary work seems to be less than for the other block of the railyard, between Sixth and Carlton avenues. Stay tuned.

Not until that larger segment of platform is built, and the demapped Pacific Street, now used for construction staging, is turned into open space (aka "Pacific Park") might the project be finished.

But they don't have to finish the project, given that the penalty is losing control of the site, not any fine (beyond the $2,000/month fine for delayed affordable units).

Yes, infrastructure and land investments make an argument for construction, but the numbers didn't work for original developer Forest City Ratner. Who's to know what Greenland USA--which owns 95% of the project going forward, excepting development leases it has sold off--will be thinking in a few years.

In other words, it's worth asking for their plans, and assumptions, regarding platform construction and building start dates.