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

No answers on timetable, affordability, platform timing, Site 5. But Greenland has not requested an extension of the 2025 affordable housing deadline.

This is the second 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 first focused on after-hours construction. The third concerned local questions. The fourth concerned the Barclays Center.

Some of the big-picture questions about the project got, unsurprisingly, no real answers, though one additional clue emerged.

We got no update on the plan to meet the requirement of 2,250 affordable housing units by May 31, 2025, which involves 877 units in at least three new buildings.

However, Scott Solish of Greenland USA said the developer--which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners--has not raised the possibility of an extension or exemption with ESD. (I'd written that I wouldn't bet against such a move.)

The platform and its towers
Regarding the platform over the first block of the Vanderbilt Yard, Solish said there was no update. He said they've been working with the Long Island Rail Road on the review and approval of design, and "making plans for coordination with the railroad for construction of the platform in the near future." That will require track outages.

Note that last year, and at other junctures, Greenland had predicted that the platform would start in 2020.

The first tower over the platform, B5 (700 Atlantic Avenue), is still being designed, and the neighboring B6 and B7 towers, to be built between Sixth and Carlton avenues and Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, are in earlier stages. Those three towers will likely be necessary to meet the affordable housing deadline.

Affordability issues

The affordability levels in the under-construction towers--including B4, B15, B12, and B13--have not been finalized, Solish said. The question, as I'd written, is whether all units will be aimed at middle-income households, or whether some would go to low-income ones.

"It will be a diverse mix of unit types," he said, in response to a question about the size of units.

Senior and ownership housing

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park was once supposed to have 225 affordable units for seniors, 10% of the total, a pledge that's gotten more attention, given the city's plans for senior housing at an upzoned site nearby.

"Obviously, we're well aware of the need of senior housing, not just in this neighborhood or Brooklyn, but all throughout New York City in the region," Solish said. "Given that it would be part of a larger building... we have been looking at this and obviously will require the cooperation of the city and state affordable housing agencies to play a leading role in the financing of those units, but it's something we're actively looking at to try and achieve in the near future." 

Also, the project was once supposed to include 200 on-site affordable condos, and at least 400 off-site ones. "So obviously there are four completed building--almost 800 units of affordable housing--and there's four buildings under construction right now," Solish said. "These buildings will deliver a significant amounts of affordable housing."

"On top of the units that have already been delivered, we're continuing to explore ways to create affordable homeownership opportunities subject to the appropriate financing structures being available through the same agencies," he said. "But there's no specific update at this time regarding any additional affordable homeownership units at the project."

So, "actively looking at" and "continuing to explore"--one seems somewhat more focused, but both remain vague.

Site 5

"There are currently no updates as it relates to Site 5," ESD's Tobi Jaiyesimi said, regarding plans for a bulk transfer from the unbuilt tower approved for what is now the arena plaza across Flatbush Avenue to the longtime home of Modell's and P.C. Richard, to enable a far larger project than previously approved.

She said ESD has filed a condemnation petition to acquire the P.C. Richard site, but that's been stalled by a stay, given a separate court case involving the retailer and original developer Forest City Ratner, now owned by Brookfield.

"ESD has not taken any action or commenced any activity related to an environmental review," Jaiyesimi said. 

I didn't ask a follow-up, but that does seem to contradict my recent report that consultant AKRF has a contract to "Continue to provide technical memorandum to support GPP [General Project Plan] modification for Atlantic Yards."