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

Instead of secured, indoor bike parking to serve Barclays Center attendees, new plan to add 56 spaces to arena plaza, plus count racks at mall across the street

The is the third of multiple articles about the 7/16/19 Quality of Life meeting, which focused on proposed modifications to the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), none of which were said to trigger further official review. The first article concerned plans for a 100,000 square-foot below-grade fitness facility. The second concerned a cut in parking. The fourth concerned modifications to the B5 tower design. The fifth concerned a cut in the North-South walkway width. The sixth concerned planned ventilation structures. The seventh concerned a swap in square footage and a change in the design guidelines. The eighth concerned updates on infrastructure work and the fate of Site 5.

As with the plan to further decrease vehicular parking, which seems to conform to a decision made in 2014 to exclude parking from a building then scheduled to contain it, the "Arena Block Bicycle Parking Reduction" seems to ratify a previous failure to fulfill a project promise.

From meeting presentation
In other words, they're cutting promised bike parking from 400 secure indoor spaces to at least 100 unguarded outdoor spaces--counting 44 existing spots across the street at a mall--in part because they never seriously implemented the early version of that original promise.

Plus, they didn't set aside sufficient space for that permanent indoor location.

There may be an argument for fewer spaces, given the limited uptake when bike parking was highlighted. And, yes, there will be opportunity to increase spaces outside on the arena block, once a new building is finished.

But the failure to secure spaces indoors--as with the bike rooms for project residents at buildings like 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt--makes them less likely to be used.

Original plan

Remember, as part of transportation demand management for the Barclays Center, as I wrote, a "bicycle station with secure indoor parking for 400 bicycles would also be provided on the arena block," as stated in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and later in the Second Amended  Memorandum of Environmental Commitments and by arena consultant Sam Schwartz.

June 2013 bike parking for The National/Doug Gordon
That never happened. Instead, there was only a fractional effort, with a temporary outdoor bike parking lot on the B3 site and at least six high-profile episodes in which valeted bike parking was offered.

Once a building rose at B3, 38 Sixth Avenue, those bike racks vanished and were not replaced indoors.

Still, the Final EIS elaborated on the plan for "ground floor space along the 6th Avenue corridor":
This bicycle station would be a secured, staffed facility providing storage for 400 bicycles. At this location, it would be conveniently situated next to the arena and easily accessible from the bicycle lanes on Dean and Bergen Streets. As currently contemplated, this facility would occupy approximately 4,000 square feet of space including 3,000 square feet of storage space for bicycles and 300 square feet for amenities such as lockers, restrooms and a security desk. In addition, an approximately 700-square-foot bicycle repair and accessory retail shop would be incorporated into the facility to provide services to both users of the bicycle station and the surrounding community
That never happened at 38 Sixth, and now it won't.

The discussion at the meeting

"There are supposed to be 400 valet bicycle parking spaces for arena event attendees," said Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project manager for Empire State Development, which oversees/shepherds the project. "We're proposing to reduce the required number to at least 100, and to change the requirement that it be in a valeted, indoor storage area."

That, she said, reflected that even the most publicized bike-valeted event, a concert by The National, drew 99 bicyclists, and the advent of other options, like Citibike, and car sharing. Other events drew far fewer attendees parking their bikes.

Still, it doesn't look like the promise was ever taken seriously. Rather than offering 4,000 square feet along the 6th Avenue corridor, the location contemplated was what Jaiyesimi described as a "small storage area in B3," located between the current 38 Sixth garage and the nearby arena loading dock. That's on Dean Street, not Sixth Avenue, as shown in the image below.

From meeting presentation
That, however, posed conflicts with cars seeking to park and vehicles using the loading dock, she said.

"The space that's freed up by not having the 400 spaces, what happens to it?" asked Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon.

"It's a small storage area," Jaiyesimi said.

"It's at end of a parking alley," said Scott Solish, a representative of developer Greenland USA, which controls Greenland Forest City Partner. It's accessible for B3 maintenance use, so "we're looking to turning it into additional maintenance" space. So it serves the interest of the developer.

Where the parking will go

"Rather than require that the developer—that the arena operator--provide valeted indoor parking," Jaiyesimi said, "we’re shifting that requirement to at least 100 parking spaces and the location to not have to be indoors."

From meeting presentation
She showed three proposed locations, with new racks, totaling 56 spaces, to be placed on the arena plaza near the subway entrance.

(Note: the arena is no longer operated by the original project developer, Forest City Ratner, now a fractional participant in Greenland Forest City Partners, but rather by Mikhail Prokhorov's BSE Global. This shifts the burden to BSE Global--and the public using the plaza--rather than Greenland Forest City, the developer of residential buildings like 38 Sixth.)

Jaiyesimi said they also will count two existing racks outside the Atlantic Center mall across Atlantic Avenue from the area, incorporating 25 and 19 spaces, respectively. The racks will not be reserved for arena patrons, though, and they will not be guarded.

Given the site constraints, "the operator"--presumably Greenland Forest City--"suggested we look at alternate locations," Jaiyesimi said. "Some are in conflict with current construction."

Indeed, the current B4 tower (aka 18 Sixth Avenue) is under construction at the arena block, limiting access to spaces at the northeast quadrant of the arena. Once that building is finished, she said, it could free up spaces for additional bike racks.

From meeting presentation
If demand increases, additional bike racks can be installed, she said.

The previous plan, Jaiyesimi said, "was well thought out, but the demand for someone attending an event at the arena is just not there." Moreover, there are other options, including mass transit, Citibike, Revel scooters, ride sharing and car sharing options, which have "significantly shifted the way we think about transportation."

What about alternatives?

Prospect Heights resident Gib Veconi, a member of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, suggested that valeted parking would have increased the number of those parking at concerts. (He misdescribed the episodes as un-manned. They were manned, they were just infrequent, and not indoors.)

"Why not start up with 100 spaces of indoor valet parking?" he said, calling the state's explanation about the site's lack of fitness unconvincing: "Someone chose the space for the bike valet parking. It might be the same people who asked for the parking to be dropped."

"What would be your recommendation?" Jaiyesimi asked.

From meeting presentation
The arena has empty retail spaces, Veconi noted. (Indeed, several spaces are available on Flatbush Avenue.)

That, Jaiyesimi said, posed security concerns.

"The project was approved well after 9/11," Veconi counted.

I noted that the promised secure, attended indoor parking was never delivered.

"I didn’t say they tried to fulfill the valet parking requirement," Jaiyesimi said. "I’m noting that they’re taking away the requirement that it be valet, in an indoor, manned facility. and making it so that at least 100 bicycle parking spaces are being made available to arena event attendees. As it's being studied... If there's increased demand and utilization, once the sites becomes available, additional bicycle parking spaces will be provided."

In other words, there are no consequences.

Below, an illustration of a potential rack

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Presentation 7/16/19 by Norman Oder on Scribd