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

Construction at Site 5, catercorner to arena, now on horizon after agreement with P.C. Richard enables state to re-launch eminent domain; contours of plan unclear

This is the first of ten articles on the 11/19/19 Quality of Life meeting, which focused on the new B12 and B13 towers. The second concerned the timing of the platform over the railyard. The third concerned the single parking garage entrance on the block. The fourth concerned the design of the new towers. The fifth concerned open space plans on that southeast block. The sixth concerned B4, Times Plaza, and the railyard. The seventh concerned art on the Dean Street construction fence. The eighth concerned recent traffic chaos around Disney on Ice. The ninth concerned the Pacific Park Conservancy. The tenth concerned the Pacific Park Owners Association.

Greenland Forest City Partners presentation Jan. 2016
shows bulk shift to 250-foot Site 5 from B1 site.
More than four years after big plans surfaced for Site 5, the parcel catercorner to the Barclays Center long housing retailers P.C. Richard and Modell's, construction now seems likely.

The timing and contours of that construction, however, remain unclear. A significant amount of high-end retail space, likened to the Time Warner Center, has been proposed at the base. Above it would be office, residential, and/or hotel space.

Empire State Development (ESD) plans to go to court this week to condemn the site, ESD's Atlantic Yards Project Director, Tobi Jaiyesimi, said last night. "We believe the condemnation will move forward. We understand that the developer is working with P.C. Richard to reach some type of agreement." That agreement would break a long impasse.

Changing plans

The low-rise stores were always contemplated to be replaced for Atlantic Yards. Approved in 2006 was a tower 250 feet tall, with 439,050 square feet, a reduction from a somewhat larger tower, 350 feet and 572,000 square feet. (It was earlier proposed at 400 feet.)

However, in early 2016 it became clear that Greenland Forest City Partners sought instead to build a giant, two-tower complex with more than 1.1 million square feet, based on the transfer of development rights from the unbuilt tower (B1, aka “Miss Brooklyn”) originally planned for what’s now the arena plaza. (See graphic near top.)

The bulk shift, as contemplated in 2016, could enable a project with towers stretching 785 feet. Alternatively, a wider but shorter office building was contemplated for the Amazon HQ2 project, at similar bulk. (See graphic below.)

But ESD's using the term "mixed-use project," which implies multiple uses.

That bulk transfer, and the lengthy public process needed to approve it, has not begun, largely because the condemnation didn't happen as planned. P.C. Richard went to court, and earlier this year won the initial round in a lawsuit against original developer Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, claiming that it was promised space in the future tower.

Though that decision was appealed, the dispute always could've been settled with a payment or agreement--and now, apparently, it will be. (Forest City is now owned by Brookfield.)

What next?

As proposed for Amazon's HQ2
If the condemnation goes through--Forest City owned the Modell's building and presumably could buy out the lease--Greenland Forest City Partners could simply build the smaller building with no public process.

However, it's likely they seek to transfer the bulk from B1. The public process to approve that transfer, including public hearings, surely would take a year. "If and when the developer chooses to request modifications to the GPP [General Project Plan]," said Jaiyesimi, "there will be a public review process."

That means "additional community engagement," as previously requested by the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, notably former AY CDC member Jaime Stein.

(Unmentioned was whether a delay in construction would require the developer to pay the city, perhaps $1 million, for Site 5 development rights. But if the giant project is going ahead, $1 million, paid sooner or later in the process, would be relatively small.)

What kind of building?

It's possible that the developer has an anchor tenant in mind, and aims to build a tower or towers with significant office space.

It's possible that the building could include a significant number of apartments and a hotel. If it contains rental units, well, some would likely be affordable, and could help Greenland Forest City reach its required 2,250 affordable units by 2025.

Would there be the market for glitzy retail? Well, it is a crossroads.

Keep in mind that the context is changing. The 80 Flatbush project to the north would rise 840 feet, which might prompt the developers of Site 5 to go higher.

I wouldn't be surprised if the project includes some sort of "community" amenity--another school? arts space?--to make it more palatable.

ESD statement

ESD spokesman Jack Sterne shared a statement: “Later this week, ESD will file papers to condemn a property in Downtown Brooklyn, allowing an important part of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project to move forward. This condemnation was always envisioned in the original project documents. We will continue to work collaboratively with the developer and the community to deliver an exceptional mixed-use project at this site.”