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

Is B5 tower over railyard getting closer? Recent filings suggest progress, plus a need to revise (or bypass?) Design Guidelines

The B5 tower, 700 Atlantic Avenue, is crucial to the future of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. It would be the first building built over the Vanderbilt Yard--along with first block of the platform--and help get developer Greenland Forest City Partners, dominated by Greenland USA, closer to the requirement of 2,250 affordable units.

That's assuming a large percentage of the 41-story building, which would contain at least 650 units, would be affordable.

Though permits were filed in May, those plans were disapproved that month and were being revised, as I reported in June.

Well, the plans still aren't approved, according to the Department of Buildings (DOB) page for the tower, but there's clearly been forward motion. The latest disapproval--see screenshot at right--was just last week, 10/28/20, which indicates continued back and forth between developer/designers and the DOB. 

It's another sign of potential motion in the project, including plans for Site 5.

Objections and responses

Indeed, a 16-page document (from the Virtual Job Folder) filed that same day by the applicant provides responses to--and paths forward regarding--various objections.

Responses include "Energy Objections received and full building energy approval to be obtained" and "Application filed with 41st floor. Lower Bulkhead (Floor 41) exceeds 33 1/3 of the roof below and is counted as a story."

Design tweaks: one officially approved, two pending?

That 16-page document includes some DOB responses regarding seeming violations of the project's Design Guidelines, approved in 2006. For example, a DOB reviewer commented that "proposed bldg moderately outside design envelope as noted."

The response cites Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards: "ESD approval supersedes comment." 

Indeed, at a July 2019 meeting--and in an approval vote a month later--ESD described having the upper parts of the building to shift closer to the street, rather than conform to previously required setbacks. That was a response to site constraints, at the western end of the Vanderbilt Yard, used to store and service Long Island Rail Road trains.

Two other DOB comments, however, raise questions. The reviewer pointed to page 10 of the state-mandated Design Guidelines, which requires a minimum sidewalk width of 20 feet along Atlantic Avenue. 

The response: "ESD approval letter to be provided." That's perplexing. If that approval letter is to be provided, it would presumably require an announced, and approved, change in the Design Guidelines. And there's been no proposed

Similarly, the reviewer pointed to page 9 of the Design Guidelines, which requires that 40% of the Atlantic Avenue frontage be non-residential, while in the permit only 33% was provided.

Again, the response: "ESD Approval to be provided." Again, if that approval letter is to be provided, presumably it would come only after an announced, and approved, change in the Design Guidelines.

The 2019 approval

As noted in the document posted at bottom, and excerpted directly below, the only Design Guidelines changes regarding B5 regarded the building envelope:
B5 Drawings Modification
The proposed modifications shift the development envelope towards Atlantic Avenue and extend the envelope slightly in the east-west direction to achieve an efficient double-loaded floor plate for the upper portions of the building. These modifications take into consideration the presence of LIRR structures and equipment directly below B5. The building’s support columns and foundational footings have already been installed to accommodate the LIRR drill track which runs below grade through to the B4 parcel footprint, the LIRR Sixth Avenue access ramp which starts at street level and then runs below grade, and the LIRR electrical substation located on the southern half of the B5 parcel. The modifications do not change the overall size, lot coverage, or height of the building. Revised drawings are attached as Exhibit C.