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

Small swap of square footage between buildings leaves lingering question; change regarding design element for three buildings said to be minor

The is the seventh 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 third concerned a cut in bike 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 eighth concerned updates on infrastructure work and the fate of Site 5.

In my preview of the meeting, I speculated that the agenda item "Change to Square Footage at Parcels B12 and B15" would be the biggest change announced, given the need to add space at B12. on the southeast block, between Dean and Pacific streets next to 550 Vanderbilt.

That said, it didn't necessarily make sense to add space at B15, just opposite the arena block, between Dean and Pacific streets, and will contain a school.

However, given the announced boost in unit count for the B12 and B13 sites, from a previous 542 to an announced 800, could not be simply explained by a switch from larger condominiums to smaller rental units. It had to mean smaller units in general--more studios?--and/or more bulk.

Well, we didn't quite get an answer. B12, once introduced as 615 Dean Street, is supposed to have a maximum of 317,185 gross square feet, as noted in the document here. It will increase by 10,000 square feet, or approximately a floor and a half.

B15, once introduced as 664 Pacific Street, is supposed to have a maximum of 341,910 square feet. As of 2014, it was supposed to contain 336 rental units, but, in a presentation to the AY CDC this past March (above), it was said to contain 312 units. So they will fit in a slightly smaller building, with 10,000 square feet subtracted.

(Why would this building shrink? Well, maybe the school poses site constraints.)

The explanation

At the meeting, Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project director for Empire State Development, which oversee/shepherds the project, said the additional 10,000 square feet would be used for common space or additional units. It will not change the project's overall square footage, or the allowable envelope for each building.

So B12 will have 327,185 gross square feet, and B15 would have 331,910 square feet.

She said that B12 and adjacent B13 would have a maximum of 800 units, with at least 25% of the units affordable. They'll both be developed by TF Cornerstone, which bought development rights from Greenland Forest City Partners.
"You're going from 500 to 800 [units]," an audience member said.

Jaiyesimi deflected the issue, saying the additional square footage "doesn't give them ability to 810... they are capped at 800."

But we still don't know how they'll get to 800 units. As I wrote, the plans floated--but not yet approved--to transfer bulk from the unbuilt B1 (aka "Miss Brooklyn") to the two-tower plan at Site 5 would move only 760,000 square feet, not the full 1,106,009 square feet. That suggests there's extra square footage to redistribute.

A design change

Another agenda item was "Change to Distinctive Architectural Design Element Requirement for B9, B12, and B13," involving two towers on the southeast block of the project and the tower--over the railyard--opposite them.

"This is very minor, just striking one word per the design guidelines for those three parcels," said Jaiyesimi. As of now, all three towers were intended to have same distinctive treatment to their facades, on three sides.

"What we've found is, for buildings 12 and 13, it's creating a visual experience where it looks like both buildings are smushed together," she said. So the requirement is reduced from three facades to two facades.

This, she clarified, did not mean the same facades, but a "distinctive treatment,"

As I wrote, each of the buildings, according to the Design Guidelines, was to "incorporate a visually distinctive architectural element in the rear façade of the Building," not less than 40 feet wide, and no less than 80% of the building's overall height.

"Such element may include without limitation curvilinear, fragmented or multiplanar forms"--a rather broad ambit.

Note: the developer of B9 is unclear. It will be one of the last towers finished, given the need to build a deck over the railyard.