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

When numbers defy logic: how Empire State Development defends increase in parking spaces and decrease in entrances. Who does it help?

Well, I got answers yesterday to questions raised at the 11/19/19 Quality of Life meeting about parking, but they just don't make sense, except to aid the convenience of the project's developers, as explained below.

The large parking garage on that block was approved at 693 spaces but was said at the meeting to contain 758 spaces. Also, it will have just one entrance and exit, a contrast with previous information that suggested three separate access points. That location, at narrow Dean Street just east of Carlton Avenue, is already congested,

Let's unpack those two issues.

How many spaces?

According to the 2019 Amendment to the Modified General Project Plan (excerpt at right), the Parking Requirement Reduction, from 1,200 overall spaces to 1,000 spaces, states:
a. Delete Paragraph 2 of the 2014 Amendment to the MGPP. b. The Project will provide 1,000 permanent parking spaces. This consists of 67 spaces that have been delivered on the arena block, 693 spaces on Block 1129, of which 303 spaces are already available at B14, and 240 spaces planned at Site 5. These spaces include 300 arena parking spaces, 24 NYPD parking spaces, and 676 residential parking spaces. 
Beyond the current 303 spaces, under the 535 Carlton (B14) residential tower, an additional 455 spaces would be added beneath the adjacent B13 (595 Dean) and B12 (615 Dean) towers, as described at the meeting and illustrated in the image below. Total: 758, not 693. 

TF Cornerstone/Handel Architects: 455 parking spaces

Regarding that discrepancy, I queried Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project. The response:
The Atlantic Yards Project Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) requires at least 390 parking spaces at B12 and B13. By delivering a total of 455 parking spaces, the developer would meet (and exceed) that requirement.
However, that's a distortion of the language in the MGPP, which does not state as "at least" or "approximately." 

"The Project will provide 1,000 permanent parking spaces," including "693 spaces on Block 1129, of which 303 spaces are already available," that doesn't leave much room for flexibility. ESD may have to approve an amended document.

Why the increase: Site 5?

If the project still will contain only 1,000 spaces, with 758 at Block 1129 and 67 already on the arena block, that totals 825. That leaves 175 spaces to be built at Site 5, not 240 spaces.

My best guess is that, now there are plans to move forward with construction at Site 5, it would be more convenient for developer Greenland Forest City Partners to build less parking. After all, there's no space below-ground for parking there, so parking would take precious above-ground space.

A change in parking access

Previously, when the project as a whole was to contain 1,200 spaces--a reduction from the original 3,670 spaces-- the four-tower southeast block, Block 1129, was to contain 910 spaces.

From 2014 Final Supplemental EIS;
 added arrow points to 550 Vanderbilt
The garage was to be below all four towers on the block, as shown in the screenshot below, from the 2014 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. There were to be three separate entrances for vehicles: along Carlton Avenue, Dean Street, and Vanderbilt Avenue, as indicated by the black triangles.

However, as indicated with the red arrow, no parking was built at the 550 Vanderbilt condo building, presumably reducing the space for parking on that block by about 25%.

Earlier this year, when ESD approved a reduction in 200 spaces in the project overall, claiming dubiously that the parking reduction overall in the project since 2006 easily accommodated the addition of 96,000 new below-ground square feet for Chelsea Piers.

TF Cornerstone/Handel Architects: parking at left
But the change in access to the garage, as indicated in the image at right--which shows one entrance to the parking--seems aimed to accommodate the installation of a large fitness center and field house from Chelsea Piers at the ground-floor level of the two new mid-block towers along Dean Street.

When the new parking configuration was approved earlier this year, no information was shared about the number of entrances to the garage.

See image below.

In response to my query, ESD said the portrayal of the three parking entrances "was illustrative, not definite." That doesn't answer why the change was not disclosed.



So 758 vehicles could enter through the narrow space at 535 Carlton.

An increase even from 2006

Note that the original parking configuration on Block 1129, studied in 2006, was 1,970 spaces, with three entrances, so 657 spaces per entrance. That's not much less than the 693 indicated earlier this year, but 13% less than the currently planned 758.

535 Carlton: one parking entrance for 758 spaces
But what was studied in 2006, or even when the project was reassessed in 2014, doesn't necessarily reflect today's reality. Double-parking street by the U.S. Postal Service, or others making drop-offs, congests narrow Dean Street. 

Slow operations at the 303-space garage also pose congestion. That fairly narrow passageway, with two lanes in and one lane out, has already generated delays and honking, neighbors say.

None of this was discussed at the recent meeting. Perhaps it will come up at the upcoming meeting of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), on 12/4/19.

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