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

Will there be art on the Dean Street construction fence? Unclear. If so, it won't be like last time.

This is the seventh of ten articles on the 11/19/19 Quality of Life meeting, which focused on the new B12 and B13 towers. The first concerned plans to finally move forward with Site 5. 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 eighth concerned recent traffic chaos around Disney on Ice. The ninth concerned the Pacific Park Conservancy. The tenth concerned the Pacific Park Owners Association.

The B12 and B13 towers along Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues are expected to start construction early next year.

Will there be art on the construction fence?

"There is a project requirement that certain construction fences should have temporary art work displayed," said Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards Project Director for Empire State Development.

Carlton Ave., south
Previously, there was art on the giant, 16-foot fence previously set up on Dean Street for the construction of B11 (550 Vanderbilt) and B14 (535 Carlton), though none on the associated Carlton Avenue wall.

The new fences will be 8 feet, which perhaps reflects that the decision to better block noise also meant the fences encroached significantly into the streets, causing delays and hazards.

What now?

"It’s my understanding that residents are not in favor," Jaiyesimi said. "Elaine [Weinstein, co-president of the North Prospect Heights Association] is giving me the thumbs down. There will be no artwork."

Weinstein, from the audience, said that the organization had discussed it. "Because the artwork previously, let's just say, was more of a branding effort than really, fine art," she said, "what was discussed was it would be great if it could be a community activity, children from P.S. 9, something that brought the community together. This takes an effort and a coordination. We really didn’t vote, we had a conversation."

2015 mural promo
"We’re open and willing to work with you all on what you guys want," said Amir Stein of developer TF Cornerstone.

"When does it go up?" Weinstein asked.

"Probably in next two months," Stein said.

"We heard no," Jaiyesimi said, but left it open for change.

"We want to learn from lessons in the past, let’s apply them," Stein said.

Later, Weinstein told me, "We're open to it if it can be a community-driven art project."

Learning from the past

Well, some called the 2015 effort #artwashing, but it got lots of good press, which ignored that the one-day painting event woke neighbors up shortly after 5 am, despite an official 11 am start time.

Mike Perry mural
I noted that, however colorful and bright, pleasant and diverting from the "Green Monster" wall that encroaches severely on the street, the murals seemed determinedly inoffensive, unmoored from Prospect Heights, much less the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project, and its controversy.

I also noted that controversial examples of real estate developers working with street artists have led to edgier examples than what appeared in Prospect Heights.

I wondered if the developers had involved a grassroots group like Groundswell, which puts artists together with local youths, and produces challenging work (Well, um, that's what Two Trees sort of did with the Domino project, involving El Puente for a temporary work on the fence.)

My nomination at the time would have fuzzed the "Brooklyn" neighborhood focus: How about "Investment from China In, Profits for Shanghai and Green Cards Out"?

Today, that could involve William Powhida, who's already addressed Hudson Yards.

Neighborhood approval?

Jaiyesimi, at the meeting, said the Carlton Avenue residents vetoed art on the previous large wall.

That implied that Dean Street residents approved it.

I checked, and Peter Krashes, a founder of the Dean Street Block Association, now the North Prospect Heights Association. "To my knowledge, residents of Dean Street were never asked if they want the art on the construction fence on Dean Street," he said, "and if any gave their consent, it was only a few."

Wayne Bailey, president of the 78th Precinct Community Council, said he wasn't asked about the art, but did get a request from a representative of the developer to seek a street closure permit for the one-day painting event. He said no.

Then the mayor's office asked. Bailey said he agreed, as a way of showing that the neighborhood was not reflexively resistant toward the project. (He had taken many photos of project encroachments.) 

"And they blew up the permit," he said, referring to the early start time. "I do regret doing it."