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

In the coronavirus era, parking at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (and Barclays Center) becomes more important; a review of the twisting history

Since project approval in 2006, the number of proposed parking spaces in Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has steadily been reduced, in recognition of robust transit options, less driving by arena attendees than once expected, and a general trend away from driving toward alternatives, including biking and walking.

That diminishes traffic congestion and fosters cleaner air. But in the coronavirus era, at least in the near term, the rationale has changed: with fewer people taking public transit, more are relying on cars, whether for-hire or their own vehicles. 

If the latter--and well-off residents are more likely to afford such cars--it's not unlikely that there will be more demand for parking than previously expected.

And while the Barclays Center has relied on public transit, especially for Brooklyn Nets basketball and concerts drawing younger adults (rather than events drawing oldsters or kids), it's not unlikely that, when the arena finally reopens to attendees, some fraction will choose vehicles.

That could add to traffic congestion--finally, the gridlock predicted when New Jersey-based fans were expected to swarm the arena?--and stress the available parking facilities.

Of course that depends on whether or not the arena reopens before widespread use of an effective vaccine, and with limited seating and/or limited seat-buying. It may open with some social distancing and other protocols, such as staff use of PPE, as noted in a survey sent in June.

So it's worth going over the history of parking, drawing from posts last January and November.

In 2006, 3,670 spaces

The original parking configuration, when the project was approved in 2006, involved 3,670 spaces, with 1,970 spaces on the southeast block, Block 1129, with three entrances.

The plan also had two entrances on Block 1120 (the western block over the railyard), at the B5 and B7 towers. It also had separate parking entrances at the B3, B15, and Site 5 towers.
2006 parking plan: 3,670 spaces

In 2014, 2,896 spaces proposed

As part of a project reassessment in 2014, a configuration with 2,896 parking spaces was proposed, with 1,846 spaces on Block 1129, again via three entrances. That plan, below had just one entrance on Block 1120, at B7 (not B5), and again at the B3, B15, and Site 5 towers.
2014 proposal: 2,896 spaces

2014 revision: 1,200 spaces approvd

The Reduced Parking Alternative proposed and approved in 2014 meant a total of 1,200 parking spaces overall, with 910 on Block 1129.

That plan, below, omitted parking on Block 1120 (B5, B7) and at the B15 tower. It included parking at the B3 and Site 5.

At the time, the parking key indicated three entrances on Block 1129, though that was later said to be merely illustratative. After all, there was to be no parking whatsoever under B14, 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, for which construction started at the end of the year.
2014: parking reduced to 1,200 spaces

2019: cut to 1,000 spaces

Last year, the parking was cut to 1,000 spaces overall ("The Project will provide 1,000 permanent parking spaces."), with a purported 693 spaces on Block 1129 under three towers and, tellingly, no indication of the garage entrances.

Only later did we learn about the single entrance, at 535 Carlton.

Going forward: more than 1,000 spaces?

Last year, we learned that there would be 455 spaces added below B12 and B13, adding to the 303 spaces below B14, for a total of 758 spaces at that southeast block--not 693.

TF Cornerstone/Handel Architects: Parking at bottom in gray
How is that possible? "The project’s requirement is that no less than 1,000 spaces be provided in total," said ESD's Tobi Jaiyesimi. “Delivering 455 spaces will meet the project requirements."

As I've written, the language in an amendment to the guiding project plan--"The project will provide 1,000 permanent parking spaces"--does not indicate a minimum or a maximum.

Even if the required 1,000 spots might be interpreted as a minimum, the language in the underlying paragraph seems clear: that total "consists of... 693 spaces on Block 1129," according to the amendment.

Who's the parking for?

Of those spaces, at least as conceived last year, there would be "300 arena parking spaces, 24 NYPD parking spaces, and 676 residential parking spaces."

There's no evidence that members of the NYPD have consistently used those 24 spaces, which are, of course, one long block away to the east (and one short block to the north), and Empire State Development can't enforce that.

It's unlikely that 300 drivers to the arena have in the past used that single garage, given the previous availability of free on-street parking. That, however, could change significantly if arena events resume before a vaccine or, at least, full confidence in one.

As to 676 parking spaces designated for residents, that total has consistently declined, given the public transit and biking options--at least until the pandemic. We'll see how many more people buy cars.

What next?

Given that the language is apparently flexible, and no one will hold ESD accountable, it's not out of the question that the parking configuration could change again, with or without another amendment.

The 240 parking spaces at Site 5 seem very far away, given the limited chances for a ground-up office tower, as touted. Could those spaces be redistributed to Block 1129--though that single entrance already seems stressed--or maybe even to new parking on Block 1120?

Well, that would likely be costly.

Could parking be added, later? (Well, given that Modell's--a former tenant of Forest City--has closed, maybe there's room for demolition and a larger surface parking lot at Site 5, though presumably that would be used for customers of P.C. Richard.)

Who knows. Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never say never" project.