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

NY State document incorporated a ridiculous Pacific Park timetable, estimating 2022 project completion, after locals and oversight body were told 2025

For the third time, I've found a disturbing discrepancy, in which clashing project timetables were distributed at the same time, to different audiences. Each depends on new information, so it's worth taking note.

It's more evidence of what I call the Culture of Cheating, and a reason to be suspicious of official statements--from the developer and/or the state--regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, especially the timetable.

Consider the widely distributed map/timetable below, revised 8/13/14 and shown to Brooklyn residents concerned about Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. The map, prepared by Greenland Forest City Partners, was also presented at the inaugural meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, on 2/6/15.

As highlighted in green, the project's last two towers were to open by February 2025. That meant the entire project would've been built out in time for the May 2025 deadline for affordable housing.

August 2014 map
That map, though more credible than another map I just discovered (and describe below), was way overoptimistic. Today that timetable has been abandoned, given rising construction costs, a changed 421-a tax break, and a glut of competitive product.

Full project completion likely will take until 2035, though the developer insists that the 2,250 affordable housing units--including 916 more in buildings without an estimated start date--will be finished by the deadline.

An earlier version of that timetable, dated 6/11/14, had been prepared and shared by the developer with the city (and possibly Brooklyn advocates) while negotiating the 2014 settlement that led to the 2025 affordable housing deadline, as I wrote this past May.

That map also indicated that the final towers would be complete by February 2025.

Immigrant investors were misled, with a June 2014 map

June 2014 map
However, misleading versions of that map were also circulating.

As I wrote this past April, immigrant investors in "Atlantic Yards III," the third round of fundraising under the EB-5 program, were given a fantasy map by the U.S. Immigration Fund (USIF), which packaged the $100 million loan.

That map of the potential project buildout, dated 6/30/14 (right) and shared with investors in October of that year, estimate -that the final towers would open by February 2022.

(That map was surely prepared by the developer, which officially became Greenland Forest City Partners, marking the formal presence of Greenland USA, the next day.)

That would have been an astonishingly fast pace, with 14 towers rising to completion in less than eight years, including six rising from an expensive, elaborate platform.

Another map compounds the mendacity

The new evidence is even more damning. As shown below, a similar map more than seven months later, dated 2/4/15, suggested that the final two towers would open by July 2022. That was a five-month nudge back, but still totally unrealistic. Yet that map was part of an official New York State document.

February 2015 map

That timetable was belied by the somewhat more realistic--but, ultimately, overoptimistic--maps released in June and August of 2014 and distributed to more knowledgeable project observers and the public.

Remember, two days after the date on the second misleading map (below), the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation was presented with the less misleading August 2014 map (top), which predicted a February 2025 completion.

New York State signed off

The above map is even more damning, because it's part of a government document that I acquired (via a Freedom of Information Law request).

It appears as part of a "consent letter," dated 6/17/15, which appears on the letterhead of Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project. The letter permitted the investment of immigrant investor funds, given that certain conditions were met.

The document, perhaps prepared by a lawyer for the counter-parties, was signed (right) by ESD Executive VP and General Counsel Elizabeth Fine, and then countersigned by representatives of entities associated with Greenland USA, Forest City New York/Forest City Realty Trust, and the New York Immigration Fund.

The latter is the loan packager (known as a regional center) for EB-5 investors, and has an affiliate in this case known as AYB Funding 200.

The document cites Exhibit A, which consists of the Site Plan reproduced above. The citations use Exhibit A to indicate parcel locations, but do not reference the stated timetables.

Still, the fact that ESD could sign this document and implicitly endorse this misleading map suggests they didn't care or didn't notice.

Other fictions

The  February 2015 map, above, maintained other fictions. The B1 tower was still said to start in November 2016, despite the logistical challenges of building next to an operating arena. (The developers have abandoned that plan, and seek to shift most of B1's bulk across Flatbush Avenue to Site 5.)

In some ways, the February 2015 map acknowledged reality. Compared to the earlier map shown to EB-5 investors, it updated to the estimated construction start dates for the B3 tower to June 2015 and the B4 tower to March 2017. (The latter didn't happen for two more years.)

Still, that map suggested that six large towers could be built over the railyard, with construction starting from December 2017 through July 2020, a span of little more than 2.5 years.

That's a huge lift, given the significant cost and work needed to build a platform, as well as the marketing challenges. Alternatively, from one document, I estimated an elapsed six years for the three phases involved, though overlapping work could narrow the time required.

By contrast, the August 2014 map suggested those six towers would start between December 2017 and July 2023, or about 5.5 years.

That was more realistic, though it has not proven to be so. Those towers could take much longer, given that the developer has until 2035 to finish the project, and apparently aims to deliver the required affordable housing before finishing the project, unlike in the earlier plans outlined in the graphics.

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