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

With settlement regarding 80 Flatbush, a "Community Benefits Agreement" with perhaps some Atlantic Yards pointers re construction protection

From the press release regarding tonight's BrooklynSpeaks meeting: Sixteen years after the announcement of the Atlantic Yards project, fundamental questions about the completion of its affordable housing—required in less than six years—and other public benefits still remain. Where will the rest of the apartments be built, and when? Who will be able to afford to live in them? At the same time, the City has yet to address the disruption caused by both project construction and the ongoing operation of an arena built in a residential neighborhood. How can street safety and local quality of life be improved during the next phase of development?

As reported two weeks ago (by Curbed and the Brooklyn Eagle), a lawsuit from row-house neighbors aiming to block the two-tower 80 Flatbush development has ended in a settlement, much of it under wraps, that includes what's been dubbed a Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA.

As Atlantic Yards-watchers have learned, the notion of a CBA is enormously flexible, in terms of the scope of the "community," the benefits enumerated (job training, housing, etc.), the enforcement mechanism, and the role (or absence) of government.

In this case, the document (at bottom) might better be called a State Street Construction Protection Agreement. At that, it may be useful, at least if it's followed and enforced, since the protections promised the nearest neighbors exceed those offered, for example, to the nearest neighbors of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. (Such protections were absent from the much-ballyhooed Atlantic Yards CBA, which is mostly moribund.)

The 80 Flatbush agreement, notably, promises "a full-time project manager on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during construction, and a dedicated hotline available for neighbors to notify 80 Flatbush of construction issues that may arise." That said, the hotline is supposed to be used only for emergencies. Also, reports on dust emissions will be delivered weekly.

No hotline for Atlantic Yards

No such provisions exists for Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, though they surely would have been very useful during some disruptive, even traumatic activities in the past, and would be useful going forward.

Rather, there's a Community Liaison Office operated by the developer, available during business hours, as well as business hours contact information for Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project.

(The Columbia University CBA, for its West Harlem/Manhattanville project, offers a 24-hour hotline.)

So perhaps one "ask" emanating from tonight's meeting, sponsored by BrooklynSpeaks, might be something as simple as a 24-hour hotline. (The only 24-hour hotline, introduced only last year, involves the after-hours use of the arena's oculus.) After all, the 80 Flatbush project, just a block up Flatbush from the arena, is much smaller.

Among the other 80 Flatbush provisions:
  • no loading docks or loading bays on State Street.
  • retail deliveries or pickups prohibited on State Street if unloading on Flatbush Avenue is permitted
  • no trash retail/office trash on State Street
  • the developer will meet with the block association monthly during the design process to solicit input
  • water sprays will be used during demolition, excavation, and transfer of soils to avoid dust
  •  80 FLATBUSH will conduct, real-time air quality monitoring for dust, with reports on results on a weekly basis through the DESIGNATED PETITIONER.
  • construction will not take place on Sunday, except for safety related maintenance, limited and time-sensitive activities
  • rodent control and tree protection plans
  • 80 FLATBUSH will share foundation plans and reports on geotechnical testing
  • 80 FLATBUSH will use its best efforts to make sure that PROJECT workers will be good neighbors, and that they will avoid sitting on stoops in front of PETITIONERS’ homes, harassing pedestrians, including but not limited to women, and playing music that is audible beyond the confines of the PROJECT SITE.
However, such provisions must be tested in the real world, and depend on the good faith efforts by the more powerful party. There are no stated penalties for non-compliance, and it would be challenging for the petitioners to go back to court over particular episodes. (Were the government involved, that could be a governmental responsibility.)

More on the lawsuit, and agreement

The 80 Flatbush project is on a trapezoidal block bridging Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, including Flatbush and Third avenues, and Schermerhorn and State streets.

Rather than observing transitional zoning (with a Floor Area Ratio, or FAR, of 6.5) agreed to during the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, developer Alloy proposed a huge increase, promising affordable housing, a replacement school, and a new school.

That was dialed back relatively slightly in September 2018, from an FAR of 18 to 15.75, and with the tallest tower 840 feet rather than 986 feet.

So residents of State Street, who once faced structures of modest scale, will see large towers, as well as the attendant construction. In July, they filed suit, stating:
The plaintiffs of State Street, who are not opposed to development, aim to expose the practice of illegal Contract Zoning and if successful, this case may establish a recalibration—not only in NYC, but in other major urban environments—towards a responsible, livable, and modern concept of urbanization.
Here's coverage of that suit in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

After some legal volleys--with the neighbors surely battling uphill--the case was settled.

"We're pleased to honor our commitment to establish a Community Benefits Agreement with our neighbors," said a spokesman for Alloy. "Demolition on site is underway, we look forward to starting vertical construction next spring and to ultimately following through on our promise to deliver 200 units of permanently affordable housing and two new public schools in Downtown Brooklyn."

The affordable housing would come in the second tower, scheduled for 2025.

Are locals gagged?

The settlement was private; the developer made public the CBA, only a portion of the settlement. Members of the block association didn't respond to my query. From Curbed:
When reached for comment the 400 & 500 State Street Block Association declined to delve into the arrangement, but stressed the group’s eagerness to work with the developer as the project progresses.
“We are looking forward to creating a positive working relationship with the developer moving forward,” Alan Seales with the block association told Curbed in a statement.
From the Eagle:
“We are unable to discuss the settlement, however, we are looking forward to creating a positive working relationship with the developer moving forward,” one of the residents who filed the suit told the Brooklyn Eagle.
A spokesman for the city Law Department noted that the settlement was private, with the city not a party. That's true, but not necessarily good public policy, since some of the better CBAs involve government to ensure a public voice.

The document

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