Skip to main content

Featured Post

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.

Looking east to the B5 site, from Sixth Avenue
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 presentation at such meetings, was absent, and no one took his place, leaving Jaiyesimi to represent the project.)

"Are there?" Dallara responded. "I walk there every day."

"There are footings for the platform and also the residential overbuild," Jaiyesimi continued.

The rail yard between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, looking east. B8/B9/B10 are slated to be built there.
"I live between Carlton and Vanderbilt and I pass the rail yard every day," her interlocutor said. "I see where there could be space for footings. I don't see any footings."

Another view of the B5 site
"There are footings," Jaiyesimi said. "There have been presentation that have been made."

She didn't specify where, and the eastern railyard block (above), to which Dallara was apparently referring, has a vast expanse to cover.

She added that railyard construction had been made more complex because developer Greenland Forest City Partners put in footings for the platform. "So, they’re there."

Some progress, but how much?

It depends, perhaps, on what "they" and "there" mean.

There clearly are concrete installations the western block of the railyard, especially in the B5 site, just east of Sixth Avenue between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue. Those structures are not merely at the perimeter of the railyard. And that's the first railyard tower slated for construction.

But those installations are the only columns visible within the railyard. The Construction Overview chapter in the 2014 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) described the expected work.
Columns and shear walls would be constructed on the mat foundations for future buildings. Large steel trusses, running north to south, would be supported by the columns and the shear walls. Concrete would be poured upon decking, which would have been placed on the steel trusses to form and finish the platform.
A three-phrase process?

Indeed, information I acquired--but not released or confirmed by Greenland Forest City--indicates that the developer conceives of the platform in three phrases: for B5, then B6 and B7, and then B8 through B10. (Here's the project site plan.)

There's a logic to that sequence. The first three towers would span a narrower depth of railyard, because a good chunk of terra firm, formerly occupied by two towers and a parking lot, bumps below Atlantic Avenue into the railyard between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

The pre-construction infrastructure could take a total of six years. If all the preliminary work were completed ahead of time--and it won't be--the infrastructure could take a total of three years.

In the distance, concrete and rebar at
 Pacific Street perimeter for B6 and B7 sites
And, as far as I can tell, the concrete and rebar at the Pacific Street perimeter of the railyard at the B6 and B7 sites offers a start on the platform. There's also a row of concrete near the "bump" below Atlantic Avenue, though it's not visible in the photo at right. Still, columns would be needed.

Drilling down

I suggested to Jaiyesimi that they should inform the public of the actual level of progress.

Noting the three-phase process, I suggested the developer seems to have made more progress in the western end of the railyard, and that Solish had provided a relatively vague answer when queried.

"Are you saying that the footings for the entire platform are present?" I asked.

"I’m saying that there have been footings installed at the site," Jaiyesimi said. "Will there be a need for additional excavation work as the platform itself has been erected? Yes. But can I sit here and give you specific percentage of what's been installed and what needs to be installed? No, because I'm not an engineer."

At the eastern block of the railyard: B8-B10
Then again, the state not only has in-house expertise, it also can hire consultants to buttress that expertise. That's their job.

She said that, when information becomes available, "a presentation will be made."

Dallara wasn't convinced. "I walk by there every single day," he said, "and it's not obvious to me how they can support buildings above the rail yard, which is a pretty wide span."

Indeed, as the photo at right shows, there's a concrete wall, plus rebar, at the perimeter of the eastern block of the railyard, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. But there's a vast area to cover, and there are no columns between the tracks.

Comments