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

Delays: B12/B13 towers now starting in spring; platform to start sometime this year (pressuring 2025 affordable deadline); Site 5 now moving forward?

This is the first of eight posts regarding the 1/28/20 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. The second concerned progress at B4, B15, and the railyard. The third concerned parking on the southeast block. The fourth concerned impacts from Barclays Center operations. The fifth concerned the Community Liaison Office, and impacts from workers. The sixth concerned the next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting. The seventh concerned questions for the Department of Transportation. The eighth concerned DEP digging.

The "big" news in the brief meeting (about 66 minutes) was that there was no news--and that the expected representative of the Department of Transportation couldn't make it, so the expected discussion was pushed back until the next meeting, 3/3/20.

But "Hurry up and wait" was the essential message regarding three significant pending elements of the project.

B12/B13 start could be delayed until June

Regarding the B12 and B13 towers on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, slated to contain a controversial below-ground Chelsea Piers field house and fitness center, "work will commence in the spring of 2020," said Greenland USA executive Scott Solish during his brief presentation.

Later, when asked about the developer's obligation to provide sound mitigation to neighbors affected by noise--via new double-paned windows or air conditioners--Solish said "we thought construction would start around March-April, now it’s April-May, or May-June, so we’re in the process of setting up the appointments" for such mitigation.

Given the history of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--everything always takes longer--it would be wise to assume the outer end of that estimate.

Platform seems delayed

Lee Warshavsky, a Prospect Heights resident and appointee on the (yet-to-meet-with-him) Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), asked, regarding the first of two railyard blocks, "Where are we in terms of a contractor, building a platform?"

"We haven’t selected one," Solish responded

"Do you have any projections" of when a contract would be signed, Warshavsky asked.

"I don’t want to give a hard deadline," Solish responded.

"I’m just curious, by the end of this year?" Warshavsky said.

"Yeah, sounds good," Solish replied, in non-committal assent.

Keep in mind, as I reported, Greenland USA--by far the dominant player in the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners--told the New York Post it would start the platform in 2020, but offered no timetable. That platform would support B5, B6, and B7, the first three of six towers over the railyard.

I cited a document, excerpted below, that indicated that groundbreaking was aimed for early 2020, with substantial completion targeted for December 2022--a three-year project.

Obviously, if groundbreaking is delayed for nearly a year, substantial completion would be late 2023.

The implications for affordability

Even if the building closest to Sixth Avenue (B5) could start before completion of the full platform--one unofficial document I found described that platform over that railyard block consisting of two stages (B5 and B6/B7)--that would make it ever tougher to build one or two towers to meet the May 2025 deadline and deliver a required 2,250 affordable apartments.

Warshavsky asked Solish if the developers were looking into any city or state subsidy programs for those towers.

Solish said they are, but haven't finalized anything. He noted that the B14 (535 Carlton) and B3 (38 Sixth) towers were built with city subsidies and loans, while the in-construction B4 (18 Sixth) and B15 (662 Pacific) rely on private financing. (Unmentioned: tax breaks for the latter help finance the affordable housing.)

Later, I asked Solish if they planned three "50% affordable" towers, as stated in a recent document filed with Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

"All our documents are up to date," Solish said. "So May 2025." (In other words, he maintained a record of not-quite-candor.)

So stay tuned for later revelations about the timing of the towers, any potential extension, and the possibility of a "100% affordable" building--my bet for the only way to meet the deadline. (Note that the issue is not merely the provision of below-market, income-linked apartments, but the level of affordability.)

What's up with Site 5?

Still unclear, though apparently moving forward, is progress at Site 5, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, and slated for a giant two-tower project catercorner to the Barclays Center, once ESD approves the expected transfer of bulk from the unbuilt B1 site over what's now the arena plaza.

Then again, the rhetoric has been confusing.

As I wrote after the 11/19/19 Quality of Life meeting, ESD's Tobi Jaiyesimi said the authority planned to go to court that week to condemn the site. "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, in which P.C. Richard won the right--costly to the original developer, Forest City Ratner (now owned by Brookfield)--to gain equivalent space in future construction.

Last night, in response to a query, Jaiyesimi said, "Last fall it was announced that ESD would be submitting a petition to the courts. There’s a hearing that’s expected to happen soon. That’s a legal process and, so, it goes before the judge, as you know, there's the litigation between Forest City/Brookfield and P.C. Richard. So it's a number of different legal hurdles that need to be overcome before we get to a condemnation process."

That implied that the putative settlement between the developer and site owner--one that surely could be met via some cash payment--was not yet resolved.

I noted that, in November, she'd suggested that the initial hurdles had been overcome.

"The statement was that we intended to go before the courts to file a petition for condemnation," she said. "That action was taken."

Note that I have been unable to find that petition; nor would ESD respond to my query about it.

"The legal case is still there," Jaiyesimi said, "and I don't know what the process is for that resolution and how long that will take. All of that still needs to be resolved and go through the proper channels. before there’s any additional update."

Bottom line: given at least a year-long process for the bulk transfer, that extends to the approval and construction process.