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

Given coronavirus closure of fitness facilities, Chelsea Piers plan for Pacific Park sites faces new questions

OK, I've written about the coronavirus-related question marks facing market-rate and affordable housing, the school, the Vanderbilt Yard platform, and a new office tower at Site 5.

But what about the fitness center and fieldhouse, operated by Chelsea Piers, planned under the B12 and B13 (615 Dean, 595 Dean) towers on the southwest block of the project site? (Here's my coverage, from last November of plans for those buildings, as well as previous discussion of the dubious approval process.)


As of early March 2020, those towers, with a combined 800 units, were supposed to start in June or July--a time period already nudged back at least two months. Now everything's been delayed by the coronavirus crisis, with essential construction stalled.

An unwise bet?

Given that gyms have closed due to Covid-19 and are likely, under the most optimistic scenario, to face operating restrictions when they reopen, the planned Chelsea Piers fitness center might seem, in the short term, an unwise bet. (I think the fieldhouse raises similar questions, since soccer players, for example, can bump into each other.)

Then again, the towers, presumably, were to be finished in 2.5 years or so. That means Chelsea Piers, under an optimistic scenario, would be opening in 2023 or later, after which--perhaps--a vaccine or treatment have changed the risk factors.

For now, though, the promotional notice in last month's New York Post, indicating that B12/B13 developer TF Cornerstone had signed a lease with Chelsea Piers, indicates unfortunate timing.

Chelsea Piers surely faces a cash flow crunch from current operations at its three locations. It's also likely that, if they rely on bank financing for new project, such financing would be harder to get, unless it's related to new coronavirus programs. Meanwhile, they have far more pressing issues than getting a new facility off the ground.

Chelsea Piers, closed for now

Chelsea Piers is closed. The company, four days before that New York Post article (though not necessarily before the lease signing) had posted an update:
Based on the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in New York City and Connecticut, and on the advice of public officials who are strongly urging social-distancing, we have made a decision to temporarily close the sports, fitness and recreation businesses at Chelsea Piers, Chelsea Piers Fitness, and Chelsea Piers Connecticut effective tonight at 12:001AM, March 13, 2020. The current closure announcement is through March 31, 2020.
That closure has been extended multiple times, most recently through May 15. It's hard to think it won't be extended far longer.

It's also likely that some percentage of former gym members will continue to work out at home, using equipment purchased for the crisis, and relying on video classes. How many? That's the big question.

Like a lot of businesses, Chelsea Piers is facing a fiscal challenge, and has not yet agreed to member refunds:
As a result of closing our sports and fitness operations on Friday, March 13th, we are in the process of managing inquiries from some customers and members regarding refunds and/or credits. Chelsea Piers has decided to assess all credits/refunds after June 30th. This decision was not easy, but we had to consider the significant financial impacts this health crisis is having on our employees, our members & customers and our businesses.
Over the years we have dealt with other major events that presented unique and unprecedented challenges; we have always tried to do the right thing for our employees, members and customers in our final decisions. Seeing that this immediate business impact is one that we have never dealt with before, we ask our customers and members for patience and understanding while we take the necessary time to formulate a clear and concise plan of action.

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