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

The developer has claimed steady progress on the new Vanderbilt Yard. The MTA has pushed back on some claims. Is all resolved?

How far along is the railyard?

The new Vanderbilt Yard is "substantially complete," Greenland USA's Scott Solish said after the 11/19/19 Quality of Life meeting, "The Long Island Rail Road [LIRR] has total control." There was still some ongoing punch list work and lighting, he said

But the LIRR had not yet signed off on final completion and, at least as of five weeks earlier, strongly disagreed that the railyard was--as a contractual term--Substantially Complete. Also,  as indicated in the documents described below, the MTA disagreed with the developer's claims of final completion.

It's unclear how much that disagreement persists, but it's a reminder that the developer is not a disinterested source.

At the 6/9/20 Quality of Life meeting, Solish again said the permanent railyard was substantially complete.

"Obviously, the railroad and MTA, like we all did, went through a difficult period of operations," he said, indicating the coronavirus crisis. "We’ve been working with them to get the final track work finished" and "should be finished over the next week or so."

At that point, he said, "the yard should be in permanent final completion," which is the MTA requirement.

Has that happened? We should learn at the 7/21/20 Quality of Life meeting.

Querying the MTA

Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners, should not be the only source of information.

Last December, I filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request seeking documents regarding the Vanderbilt Yard. No documents indicated final completion, I was told.

I also sought "any requests made by MTA/LIRR regarding completion of the Vanderbilt Yard” and was sent the two documents pasted in below, which cast some doubts on the developer's claims.

Not quite complete

The MTA sent a 6/28/19 letter (bottom) in response to a 6/13/19 "Developer's Notice of Substantial Completion of Major Portions of the New Yards," which indicated that the developer had completed 16 work items and expected to achieve substantial completion of 11 more work items by 7/31/19.

The MTA basically said: not so fast.

After performing an inspection, the LIRR determined that three of the 16 items--including the pre-placed overbuild foundations and footings necessary for a future platform--had indeed achieved Substantial Completion, but that certain additional tasks were necessary, beyond already stated Punch List items, to achieve Final Completion.

However, with regard to the 13 other times, "certain key fire/life safety system tasks remain incomplete," notably fire alarm tests and approved fire standpipes, the MTA said.

The second letter

Work continued, and so did exchanges between the developer and the authority.

The MTA sent a 10/11/19 letter (bottom) in response to a 9/25/19 "Notice of Substantial Completion of Final Completion of Major Portions of the New Yards," which indicated that the developer had achieved Substantial Completion of ten work items--all of which had been listed in the previous letter as requiring additional work.

The MTA, after an inspection, did confirm Substantial Completion, but also added new punch-list items, and asked the developer to submit a full Punch List to achieve Final Completion.

The MTA also said that, while the Developer had indicated that it believed that four other work items, including a new emergency generator/load bank, were Substantially Complete, along with the full railyard, "LIRR does not agree that these items of work are (or that the Yard, as a whole, is) Substantially Complete."

"Lastly, although Developer references certain work as having reached final completion, the Notice does not identify with particularly what items or phases of work for which Developer believes it has achieved final completion," the letter states. "As of the date of this letter, LIRR does not believe Developer has achieved final completion for any phase or item of work in the New Yard."

The remaining question

So, as of today, how many work items have been certified by the MTA as achieving Substantial Completion? How many have not? Has the railyard, as a whole, achieved Substantially Completion?

The same questions apply regarding the next step. As of today, how many work items have been certified by the MTA as achieving Final Completion? How many have not? Has the railyard, as a whole, achieved Final Completion?

It stands to reason, given the previous timing, that the developer and the MTA have engaged in other correspondence, which was not sent to me.

The problem with a FOIL request that takes more than seven months to get a response is that it can be out of date, at least if the agency interprets "through the present"--the boundary date of my document request--as the date the request was received rather than the date a response was sent. In this case, I got the response some seven months later.

The documents