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

In railyard, how far along is the platform? The state either doesn't know or won't say.

This is the second of several articles based on the 9/17/19 Quality of Life meeting, hosted by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project. The first concerned plans for the school.

So, how far along is the all-important platform, the key infrastructure over the Vanderbilt Yard above which vertical development of six towers--B5 through B10--can take place?

A representative of the state couldn't give a clear answer, though she insisted there was progress.

Asking about plans for the project's "park," resident Mark Dallara cited the "open rail yard," and added, "As far as I can see, there's no footings for the platform."

"There are already footings in for the platform," responded Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project director for ESD, and also the executive director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation.

(Greenland USA's Scott Solish, who typically makes a developer p…

SCA surprise: middle school at B15 tower won't open until 2023, will house 800 students (not 640); more concern about safety issues

This is the first of several articles based on the 9/17/19 Quality of Life meeting, hosted by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project.

In March, we learned at a meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation that the B15 tower, aka 664 Pacific Street, should be finished by Spring 2022. (See slide below.)

A 640-seat middle school, occupying the building's first six floors and very deep below-grade space (see photo further below), was supposed to open by August 2022, School Construction Authority (SCA) records said.

Not exactly.

Last night, an SCA rep revealed that the school will not open until September 2023--a delay based on the aim to "refresh" designs over the past nine months--and it will hold 800 students, a 25% increase. (It's unclear whether the school space--previously said to be 100,000 square feet, both above and below ground--is increasing.)

We got no official update on the timing for the r…

Video: noisy, undisclosed work at B12 site, where there's no construction fence

Guess what: the Construction Update for the two weeks beginning 9/2/19 didn't disclose that that, on Saturday 9/7/19, trucks would be using the B12 site, on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, as a staging area.

They appear to be used for concrete--there are two towers, B4 and B15, for which there is ongoing Saturday concrete work.

The problem, as Dean Street resident Peter Krashes wrote in his comments on the video, is that there is no noise mitigation.
To my recollection, Empire State Development stated previously that the lack of a construction fence for B12 on the Dean Street side is due to the lot being assigned to LIRR/MTA staging, and ESD also (surprisingly!) implied LIRR /MTA is exempt from the project's environmental commitments. This work appears to have been associated with B4 or B15 contractors, not LIRR.
Residents on Dean Street are impacted by the work whichever entity produces the adverse affects. Perhaps this will come up at tonight's Quali…

Years before distorting Design Guidelines for the fitness center & field house, ESD stretched to allow arena roof logo

The more I think about it, there was some precedent for Empire State Development's dubious decision to amend--er, "clarify"--the project's Design Guidelines to allow 96,000 square feet of below-ground space to be used for a fitness center and field house.

Remember, that space, originally presented as "commercial," was then said to be "recreational," though that category was never approved--and, informally, the developer described "health clubs" in a presentation before project approval as subsumed under "retail."
Instead, rather than be subtracted from allotted commercial or retail space, it's a new category, somehow able to be exchanged for parking space (though the latter was never proposed as fungible).
What about the roof logo?
Well, remember the logo on the Barclays Center, before the green roof?
That valuable signage, however common for fly-over cameras, had been neither officially approved nor disclosed. But it passed…

Closed (?) open space at 535 Carlton; digging at B15; FDNY sidewalk parking; a dangerous Sixth Avenue pedestrian path

Before tomorrow's Quality of Life meeting, a few photos related to the project site and environs.

Closed open space

First, the open space behind the B15 site, 535 Carlton, was closed as of last week, and a resident told me it had been two weeks. Perhaps we'll learn more. (I presume there's some sort of temporary damage issue, but they should be a little more explanatory.)



At the B15 site

I previously showed photos of the construction site at B15 (664 Pacific or 662 Pacific), but only from street level. The photos below are from the building just north of it, 670 Pacific, and show the depthy of excavation.



Endless parking violations

The volume of driving, parking, deliveries, and pickups presumably will increase when the school is built, placing even more pressure on the available parking--and the fire and police personnel who use their placards to park on the sidewalk.

Below are two photos of FDNY vehicles parked on Dean Street, east of Sixth Avenue.

.

Dangerous pedestrian pat…

Clouds over Chinese investment continue to grow, though no specifics re Greenland

The clouds are growing regarding foreign (including Chinese) investment in New York City real estate, but the chatter has not reached Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, controlled by Greenland USA, the U.S. arm of Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group, owned significantly by the government of Shanghai.

Is that because they have a larger commitment to the project in Brooklyn, or that they've made too much of a (decently priced) investment to get out? Perhaps.

But we don't know what they're thinking because, well, they're not on a U.S. stock exchange and aren't subject to such associated public scrutiny.

The clouds grow

Foreign investors battered by losses amid city's real estate shake-up, Crain's New York Business reported 9/3/19. It cited Shanghai Municipal Investment Group as unconcerned about two luxury towers in Manhattan facing a buyer's market, but closemouthed regarding a loss on a condo development site.

Wrote Daniel Geiger:
Lately, a growing list of fo…

From the latest Construction Alert: little change, but some stored materials at southeast block will be relocated

The latest Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Construction Update (bottom), covering the two weeks beginning Monday, Sept. 16 was circulated yesterday (lead time!) by Empire State Development (ESD) after preparation by Greenland Forest City Partners.

Compared to the previous update, there's just one example of announced new work (typically in red) in the document. Regarding work on the rail yard, the contractor plans "to relocate any remaining stored materials from B12 & B13 site to the former 728 Atlantic Avenue Building area." That's the at-grade space on Atlantic Avenue between Sixth and Carlton Avenues.

That means that those two sites, on the southeast block of the project and scheduled for a construction start in 2020, should get one step closer to being cleared. There are still construction trailers there, including the location of the Community Liaison Office.

After hours work

Work at two building sites continues, and excavation work is expected to continue on Sat…

At Quality of Life meeting Tuesday, School Construction Authority rep expected to answer questions about planned middle school

There may be a new source of information at the bi-monthly Quality of Life Meeting scheduled for Sept. 17, Tuesday, at 6 pm. 

An invitation has been extended to the School Construction Authority, so an SCA a representative is expected to be in attendance, according to the host, Empire State Development. (Otherwise the agenda is typically opaque.)

That presumably means the opportunity to ask questions (as have been raised at previous meetings) about the planned middle school at B15 (664 Pacific or 662 Pacific), which is due in 2021.

Issues include such things as parking for teachers and staff, delivery dropoffs and pickups, and the pedestrian paths for students in a busy area.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 @ 6:00 PM
The location is:
Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217

In 2005, "health and fitness clubs" were considered by Atlantic Yards developer to represent *retail* space. Now they're a new category: "recreational" space.

The plot thickens; we have some 2005 evidence that casts even more doubt over the 8/15/19 Empire State Development (ESD) approval of "recreational space," to allow 96,000 below-ground square feet for a Chelsea Piers-operated fitness center and field house, plus 9,000 square feet at street level, at the southeast block of the project.

Take a look at the slide below, from a 5/26/05 presentation (in full, at bottom) from original developer Forest City Ratner at a New York City Council hearing. As the annotation indicates, "health and fitness clubs" were considered part of "new retail space," which as to be "neighborhood-oriented."

That suggests that the 105,000 square feet for the field house and fitness center--at sites B12 and b13--should be subtracted from the overall retail square footage, which is now 247,000 square feet. Or that allotted amount of retail square footage should've been expanded.

(And, of course, the space would be more than…

WSJ on new Nets' star Kevin Durant: choosing Brooklyn was easy (and he may live in DUMBO)

The Wall Street Journal magazine 9/10/10 published a long feature, Kevin Durant's New Headspace, with the subheading that suggests the scope:
The Nets new star is focused on his recovery and elated to be coming to Brooklyn—so can everyone stop worrying about whether or not he's happy? "We talk about mental health a lot. We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans." It's an interesting read (by J.R. Moehringer) about an interesting guy, with relatively few Brooklyn mentions.

An apartment in DUMBO?

First, he may live in DUMBO:
Team Durant's plan is for him to hole up here all summer, then transition to his new home in New York City soon after Labor Day. He's flying east tonight to look at a few places. Friends have urged him to consider Manhattan, but Dumbo, he thinks, might be more his speed. He wants high ceilings, a sick view, proximity to the Nets practice gym. He lives for a gym, prid…

Crain's Cleveland Business: the return of Forest City's founding family?

Investment group formed by Ratner, Miller and Shafran families ramps up out-of-town efforts, reported Stan Bullard of Crain's Cleveland Business 9/8/19. 
And while that doesn't sound like Bruce Ratner of Forest City New York, his cousins and other extended family members--involved in the RMS Investment Group family office--seem to not have given up real estate since the once family-controlled Forest City Realty Trust was acquired last year by Brookfield Asset Management.

Reports Bullard:
With a headquarters at the Van Aken District, the company's $70 million mixed-use remake of the former Van Aken shopping center in Shaker Heights, RMS has set up a new outpost in Washington, D.C.
That is where RMS has located a newly formed subsidiary to source and underwrite real estate acquisitions throughout the Mid Atlantic with a focus on multifamily. The effort was disclosed by an ad posted on online job boards such as LinkedIn to recruit a real estate acquisitions analyst, an entry-le…

Photos: construction progress, below-grade, at B4 and B15 sites

The construction of B4 (18 Sixth Avenue) and B15 (664 Pacific Street) encroaches on Atlantic and Sixth avenues, significantly, but what's going on behind the fences? What's the product of all those after-hours construction approvals? I took a few photos last week, which shows progress below-grade.

Most notably, there's a (partial?) concrete pour at B4, built at the northeast flank of the Barclays Center, and a deep excavation catercorner at B15, which will contain a school in its lower floors, and below grade.

The 511-foot B4--the largest tower so far, and likely the second-largest in the project--may be finished in 2022, while B15 should be finished in 2021.

B4 photos

The B4 site, looking south from the second floor of Atlantic Center mall on the north side of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue/South Portland Avenue.


The B4 site, looking south through an opening in the fence, at ground level, on Atlantic Avenue. Behind it, at left, is B3 (38 Sixth) and, at right, B2 (461 Dea…

NY Post: Spencer Dinwiddie said to "buy"--actually, be "in contract" for--Brooklyn Point penthouse

Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie buys highest penthouse in Brooklyn, the New York Post reported 9/4/19. The lead was not as definitive, since "in contract" does not mean a completed deal:
It’s a slam dunk for Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who is in contract to buy a penthouse at Brooklyn Point, Gimme Shelter has learned. Keep in mind that celebrities don't necessarily like the public knowing where they live, so who knows if the deal goes through.

And, as NetsDaily notes, there's a history of real-estate hype for deals like this, which plug the building but don't actually happen.

A stand-out building

For a short while, this will be Brooklyn’s tallest tower, at 720 feet, but will be eclipsed by the "supertall" 9 DeKalb, at 1,066 feet.

If Dinwiddie does pay at or near the $3,928,545 asking price for the 3BR, 3BA, 1,455-square-foot apartment, he can afford it, having recently signed a three-year contract paying $34,362,144 over that span.

Close to the o…

A new, higher-paying tenant at Atlantic Terminal: Sephora

Sephora Signs at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal Mall, the Commercial Observer reported 9/6/09, with the key piece of information "asking rents at the center at $250 per square foot," according to landlord Madison International Realty, which last year took over full ownership from Forest City New York/Forest City Realty Trust.

That doesn't mean they got $250/sf, but consider that Madison's Ronald Dickerman, describing plans to refresh the mall and gain new tenants, told The Street in January 2018, "We'll raise rents from $30 per square foot to $60." 
Presumably that was an average, so we don't exactly know the former rent--at the Children’s Place, a clothing store for kids--but that leaves a significant upside.

Madison reps told the Commercial Observer that foot traffic from Barclays Center was part of the expected customer base for Sephora, which should open next month.

Coming next weekend, Brooklyn Brews, at Brookfield's MetroTech Commons

I have to admit, when I got the promotional email from the Brooklyn Paper regarding an event at MetroTech Commons--"Experience Brooklyn Brews, presented by Brookfield Properties, a celebration of the local community featuring local Brooklyn breweries, tasty bites, music, and lawn games"--I had a double-take.

How is Brookfield involved, and why are they branding this?

Oops, I'd forgotten for a moment that Brookfield Properties last year absorbed Forest City Realty Trust, and thus is responsible for programming at MetroTech.

The latter of course was developed by Brooklyn stalwart Forest City Ratner, later Forest City New York, a subsidiary of the Cleveland-based parent company (formerly Forest City Enterprises).

So, as noted in the Arts Brookfield listing, the event, on Friday, September 13 from 4 to 8 pm and on Saturday, September 14 from 12 to 5 pm, involves "free entry," plus the opportunity to buy food and drink on-site.

Brooklyn Breweries include:
• Circa Br…

Yes, the Tech Memo fudges the decision to provide less, and unsecured, bicycle parking

I've written this week about how the Technical Memorandum (aka Tech Memo) associated with recently approved project changes revealed new information about plans for a giant Ventilation Structure in the project's open space, as well as cast doubt on claims regarding the newly approved below-grade fitness center and field house.

The Tech Memo also fudged the issue of bike parking. As I've previouslywritten, despite a promise to provide 400 indoor, secured spaces, the project developer instead provided outdoor unsecured spaces, and only on a few occasions provided secure valeted service.

That latter experience, with a maximum 99 bikes parked, somehow led ESD to conclude that no more than 100 unsecured outdoor spaces was necessary, and that there was no reason to carve out space from project buildings.

The document continues that argument:
REDUCTION IN BICYCLE PARKING
As discussed above, the Proposed Modifications would also reduce the number of Barclays Arena guest bicycle pa…

Second look: how state discussion and newly revealed document fudged plan for new fitness center and field house

Newly public data from a previously unreleased Technical Memorandum (or Tech Memo, bottom) compounds doubts over the controversial approval of a fitness center and field house, under two towers in the southeast block of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, without further environmental review.

The document was acquired after a Freedom of Information Law request to Empire State Development, or ESD, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. The space would be  under the B12 and B13 towers. planned to start next year, on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

Reasons for doubt:
the number of expected users of the new facilities seems low--42 people entering the 45,000-square-foot fitness center between 8-9 am, and 60 between 5-6 pm--with no process for challenging the calculationfar more below-grade space will be created for the fitness center/field house than will be saved by cutting parking on that block, given the project's recent iteration, despite claims of a &…