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

As neighbors express dismay about construction, developer claims hours are set by DOB. But builders gained after-hours variances, from 5 am-10 pm (exceeding what's been disclosed).

This is the first of four articles on the 11/17/20 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting, held on Zoom by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project. The second concerned the big open questions about the project. The third concerned local questions. The fourth concerned the Barclays Center.

Unsurprisingly, there were few answers to the big questions around the project's fate, but there was solicitousness and evasiveness toward neighbors--working from home--experiencing construction noise and vibrations over very long days.

"So we know that the construction noise is disruptive," said executive Amir Stein of TF Cornerstone, which is developing the B12 and B13 towers on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, which are creating a very deep below-ground space to accommodate a fitness center and field house.

No community resident was allowed to communicate with the attendees at large in these less-than-transparent meetings, but one resident of 535 Carlton Avenue, the affordable rental tower at Dean and Carlton, said at a community meeting Monday, construction wakes "everybody up loudly at 7 am," causes vibrations in some people's apartments, and leaves them unable to open their windows. 

(Unlike two other buildings, noted below, this site has no after-hours variances to allow more extended hours.)

"But we're working to complete the foundation and excavation portion of construction as soon as possible," Stein said. "So thank you very, very, very much for hanging in there with us. And we anticipate that the noisiest part of construction, which is the drilling of soldier piles [retaining walls], will be complete within the next couple of weeks."

"We will also continue to excavate and install tie backs which will continue through the winter," he added. "And this is anticipated to be complete in February."
From developer's presentation

He said the current work means up to 150 truck trips per day: maximum 50 trucks, three trips per day. That put a number on the "increase in truck activity" vaguely described in the project's latest Construction Update.

The trucks enter the site via Atlantic Avenue, turning onto Vanderbilt Avenue and then Pacific Street. They from Pacific Street to Carlton Avenue and then Vanderbilt Avenue. 

Looking at the photo

Stein went through a montage of photos (right) that showed construction from the perspective of the pit on Dean Street.

The top left photo shows progress of excavation looking east, toward the 550 Vanderbilt condo building. On the right, looking northwest toward 535 Carlton and Atlantic Avenue, the first footings are being installed, as well as preparation for pouring the foundation wall next to 535 Carlton.

The bottom left shows the preparation work for soldier pile drilling. 
From developer's presentation

Near the arena block

Scott Solish, of master developer Greenland USA (which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners) said the project's tallest building so far, the B4 (18 Sixth Ave.) tower at the northeast corner of the arena block, should rise to its full 51 stories (511 feet) by early December.

Work will continue at the facade and interior.

The B15 (662 Pacific St., or 37 Sixth Ave.) tower has topped out at 26 stories, with continued installation of brickwork and windows.

As shown in the photo below, the brickwork on the lower floors differentiates between the middle school in the bottom segment of the building and the remainder of the residential tower.

Greenland Forest City is developing the B4 tower with The Brodsky Organization and has leased the B15 site to Brodsky.

Mitigating noise "however possible"

Solish was sounded solicitous about noise, noting that most people are home, and that the project has a Community Liaison Officer (866-923-5315 or communityliaison@pacificparkbrooklyn.com).

"But we do take as many steps as possible to try and mitigate the noise and impacts wherever and however possible," he said, citing "full compliance with the Department of Buildings regulations, as well as complying with the MEC," the project's Memorandum of Environmental Commitments

He cited sound blankets on the fences in the top photo montage. He said that the developer has an environmental monitor, and the state has on-site representatives. 

"We publish our two-week look-ahead to make sure that everyone knows about upcoming work," he said, "as well as the six-month look-ahead to try and anticipate all work that's happening."

Wait a sec. They don't publish that six-month look-ahead but are required to submit it to Empire State Development, which has never made it public as a routine matter. The only way to get it is to file a Freedom of Information Law request, as I did.

I asked a question via the meeting's chat: "Scott just said they 'publish' the six-month look ahead. When is the next one and when can we see it?" No response--not atypical of the less-than-transparent meeting.

Hours of construction

"There have been a lot of requests about trying to change the hours of construction," Solish said. "But construction is a highly regulated, highly specialized field, where the hours are kind of set by the Department of Buildings."

"And so there's no ability to adjust those hours right now, to change the hours of the work day without having significant impacts on the schedule of the project," he said. "So there's no--there's no shifting from a 12 to 7 or a 12 to 8 shift that will be able to be done."

That was somewhat disingenuous. Solish was suggesting that an eight-hour workday that started midday rather than typical 7 am start--or even a workday that started at 7 am and went through 6 pm--was untenable. 

But the "schedule of the project"--an effort to get work done at the developer's preferred timetable, given certain constraints like required social distancing--now involves significant after-hours work.

And that after-hours work, unmentioned by the developer, now exceeds that previously disclosed.

After-hours work

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) sets standard construction hours between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays, which allows for much more than an eight-hour shift. All other times, including weekend work, require after-hours authorization, which seems to be routinely granted. 

As of early October, work at the B4 and B15 sites went from 7 am to 7 pm, and Saturdays 8 pm to 5 pm. Beginning 10/19/20, however, the developer announced an extension of hours at those sites: from 6 am to 9 pm on weekdays, while Saturday work would start at 9 am, lasting through 5 pm.


Those hours--6 am to 9 pm weekdays, 9 am to 5 pm Saturdays--continue appear in the latest update, released 11/16/20, as shown in the screenshot above. 

But that's misleading, since it didn't disclose work hours that have been further extended, adding further burdens to neighbors.

As of last week, builders of the B4 (18 Sixth Ave.) tower got an after-hours variance (AHV) to extend weekday hours, starting at 5 am on Friday (see screenshot at right), and going to 10 pm (starting Thursday. 

They also got an AHV to work on Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm, starting this Sunday, 11/22/20.

As of 11/9/20, builders of B15 (662 Pacific St..) got an after-hours variance (AHV) to extend weekday hours to 10 pm. (The start time remains 6 am.)

They also got an AHV to work on Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm, starting two Sundays ago, 11/8/20. That has not yet been renewed.

LIRR work

Solish was also asked about overnight work in the Vanderbilt Yard, conducted by the Long Island Railroad.

"I will bring it up but we don’t control when the railroad does this work," he said, nothing that the LIRR typically must wait until trains are not stored and serviced in the railyard.

He noted that the seven-track permanant railyard is complete, with the LIRR in total control, but that Greenland has not gotten the final completion letter, since the LIRR is doing additional track work, on its own.

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