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

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park in 2020: important clues coming re platform, Site 5, affordable housing?

Here's my 2019 retrospective.

For Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, 2020 should be a year of continued progress in construction--the B4 and B15 towers will continue, while the B12/B13 towers will start. But question marks will persist about the project's overall contours and fate.

We should get more clues on the fate of Site 5, which was supposed to move toward eminent domain late last year--and may have, despite definitive proof.

But even if the developer and state move to transfer much of the bulk of the unbuilt B1 tower to Site 5, is there a market for a huge office tower, as has been promoted? Or, if the building contains mostly apartments, is there a market for that?

If Site 5 does move forward, it should take at least a year for the process, which is supposed to proceed with more public input. We'll see.
Updated Dec. 2019 map of plans and progress. Click to enlarge. Design by Ben Keel; editing by Norman Oder
The platform, plus six towers?

This year should mark the start of the first phase of a two-phase buildout of the platform over the Vanderbilt Yard, for the somewhat smaller area--thanks to terra firma butting south of Atlantic Avenue--between Sixth and Carlton avenues.

The developer, though indicating a 2020 start, hasn't announced a start time, or elapsed time, though I document I found, which indicated an early 2020 start date, indicated a three-year buildout, which implied the first railyard tower could start in 2023. The later the buildout, the later the start, presumably.

The platform--and, perhaps, Site 5--is crucial to the developer's obligation to build 2,250 affordable units by May 2025, a deadline that seems increasingly under pressure though not yet impossible. It could be fulfilled if a "100% affordable" tower is built over the railyard, though.

Or, who knows, there could be a wild card: an extension, a revision of project documents, a giant deal--I speculate--to finish later but agree to more affordability, thus gaining an exemption from the fines. Keep watch.

One thing's for sure: we won't see the second phase of the platform, with the final three towers, for a while, and that means the heart of the open space will remain unfinished.

One lesson from Atlantic Yards is everything takes longer than expected: the railyard; the platform; the towers; the retail; the condo sell-through at 550 Vanderbilt; and the affordable housing.

Retail and more

The retail picture should continue to change, albeit slowly: one more tenant at 550 Vanderbilt, possibly others at the extant towers. Perhaps we'll learn of a "big" tenant at the B4 tower, 18 Sixth.

Near the arena, the Triangle Sports building may finally get a tenant, or at least a more concerted use. There should be more changes along Flatbush Avenue.

At the arena

Changes at the Barclays Center loom, as the New York Liberty arrive and Joe Tsai, on his second arena CEO, figures out how to make it work. Will business in China, or gambling, help the arena and the Nets?

The Nets, at this very moment, seem more enigmatic and star-crossed than star-laden, but that could change, depending on when Caris LeVert, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant return from injury leave.

The first two, at least, are expected back this year, and the Nets are expected to make a playoffs run. Durant, though not predicted to return this season, could come back. But the big expectations are for the 2020-21 season.

For the New York Islanders, this season should again show that the Nassau Coliseum is closer to their fan base, with greater attendance at the smaller arena. However, if the Islanders proceed through the playoffs, which seems a good bet, will home games the second round and further--as was promised last year--really be held only at Barclays?

The next surprise

What's the surprise? There always is one. One 2020 surprise would be new dimensions for Site 5. After all, the potential 785-foot tower was floated in 2016, well before 80 Flatbush and (the potential) 625 Fulton changed the nearby skyline.

Why not have a "supertall" tower there, as was suggested in 2019?

Another 2020 surprise might simply be the timing for the buildout, once the platform gets started. Another might be the timing, configuration, and affordability of the required affordable units.

Another surprise might be corporate turmoil/pressure at and within Greenland USA, buffeted by domestic financial issues in China.

Or, maybe, the plans--or lack thereof--to pay back immigrant investors who floated $500,000 and fees for the allegedly job-creating "project."

Of course, given that one 2019 surprise was something no one anticipated--below-ground space for a fitness center and field house!--the 2020 surprise might well be something no one's publicly discussed.

Who's watching?

As I wrote last year, the perpetual question regarding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park involves oversight, and the chance that government entities will look hard at the project.

That chance seems ever diminished, though the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation did show a little more life.

With four towers under construction, plus periodic stresses from arena activities, the streets around the project site will, periodically, get ever more congested, adding danger and inconvenience. (One thing to watch: will the cops keep parking on the sidewalks, and/or will they use the 24 spaces designated at 535 Carlton?)

The 2021 campaigns should bring Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park into a bit more focus, but it's too soon to tell if any candidates will really understand the project, and the city/state support for it. Ditto for whether there will be much savvy press coverage.

Meanwhile, other promises--affordable condos, senior housing--may get forgotten even more.

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