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

From Bklyner: "Community Board 8 Wary Toward Proposed 18-Story Tower at McDonald’s Site in Prospect Heights" (plus some Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park perspective)

I wrote an article yesterday for Bklyner, headlined Community Board 8 Wary Toward Proposed 18-Story Tower at McDonald’s Site in Prospect Heights, indicating that the proposed plan for 840 Atlantic Avenue, an 18-story tower with 316 apartments, got a cool reception from members of Brooklyn Community Board 8's Land Use Committee at a meeting last Thursday.

Basically, they said that a tower that big should deliver more public benefit in terms of housing and jobs, especially since it exceeded guidelines under the M-CROWN rezoning plan they'd passed (but the city hasn't yet adopted).

The proposed building, at bottom right, would be 195 feet. It and the two Pacific Park
 buildings annotated with blue/white stars haven't been built. Those with blue/orange stars,
including B12/B13 and 809 Atlantic Avenue, are under construction.
Original image, via Vanderbilt Atlantic Holdings.

Something's coming

From the article:
Surely something reasonably large will be built at that underutilized site, given the changing context near the east end of the Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park) site, which ends at Vanderbilt Avenue. Two Pacific Park towers have been built along Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, and two more, incorporating a below-ground Chelsea Piers fitness center and fieldhouse, are under construction. Atlantic Yards was enabled by a state override of zoning.

The proposed 840 Atlantic would be 195 feet and 340,000 square feet, similar in height and bulk to the catercorner 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, Pacific Park’s sole condo building, though the latter also offers adjacent green space and is part of a project with other promised public benefit.

The new tower would require rezoning of the property to allow development as it is currently zoned for manufacturing uses. It would be shorter but bulkier than another building under construction across the intersection to the north, 809 Atlantic Avenue, which has a wide, lower-slung base.

840 Atlantic Ave would face, across Vanderbilt, perhaps the last Pacific Park site to be built, known as B10, slated for a 313-foot tower (as tall as 809 Atlantic). The timetable for that remains uncertain, as it requires an expensive platform over the below-grade active railyard. Its construction would fulfill the project’s long-promised creation of open space, which involves the transformation of adjacent, demapped Pacific Street.
For the remainder, go to Bklyner.

Some Atlantic Yards context

We should keep in mind discussion of Floor Area Ratio (FAR), the relationship of a building's bulk to multiples of its floor plate.

The current manuracturing zoning limits FAR to 1, meaning not very voluminous buildings, used for manufacturing or such non-residential uses as storage. Community Board 8's proposed--but not yet embraced by the city--M-CROWN rezoning would max FAR at 7, while the developers of 840 Atlantic have proposed 8.8, at least a 25% increase.

That's actually more than the adjacent Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park plan. For comparison: the eastern half of Atlantic Yards was approved at a Floor Area Ratio of 7.4, counting the streetbeds incorporated into the site, or 8.2 without the streetbeds. 

The 550 Vanderbilt condo tower has an FAR of 6.97, thanks in part to the limited green space around it, which does not rely on streetbeds.

The project's Final Environmental Impact Statement stated that "The total FAR of the proposed project would be 7.8 (9.0 without the streetbeds incorporated into the project site)."

Note that the lower calculation is a bit deceptive. Keep in mind that that overall FAR of 7.8, the western end FAR of 8.6, and the eastern end FAR of 7.4 incorporate the demapped streets, while typically it's calculated with the assumptions that buildings are next to streets.

To quote the BrooklynViews blog from January 2006, "In Brooklyn, the FAR measures density relative to the existing pattern of streets and blocks." 

That said, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park does not represent a direct comparison, because it's supposed to deliver infrastructure improvement, deck over a railyard, and affordable housing (though, of course, that housing has turned out to be less affordable than promised).

Moreover, the presence of the arena surely lowers the average density. (What's the arena's FAR? Unclear, but I suspect it's far lower than the claimed 8.3 FAR on the building permit.)

And, as noted below, it's hard to make the comparison if Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park doesn't get finished.

Atlantic Yards discussion

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park came up multiple times during the ongoing chat during the CB 8 Land Use Committee meeting--an advantage of the virtual meeting format, since everyone could see the chat.

As Prospect Heights resident Peter Krashes noted, "Pacific Park density was approved with PROMISES ! of much deeper public and community benefits than this proposal."

And when the developer noted the context of the B10 tower at the corner of Vanderbilt and Atlantic,  which would dwarf the proposed 840 Atlantic in height and bulk, Krashes asked if they should demonstrate that it would actually built.

That question wasn't asked in the meeting, but no one can demonstrate that yet, of course, because the three towers on the eastern block of the railyard (B8/B9/B10) all rely on an expensive deck, as well as the purchase of development rights over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

Those will likely be the last towers to be built, and only their construction would deliver the major piece of open space, which relies on transforming demapped Pacific Street, currently used for construction staging, into green space.

Fellow member Gib Veconi commented later, "Don't even get me started on trying to talk about zoning contexts next to Atlantic Yards on buildings that are unclear will ever be developed." Indeed, it's unclear, and Veconi has been among those trying to get a timetable for the project.

Board Chair Ethel Tyus observed at one point, "Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park started out with a heavy hand using eminent domain; we don't have that here." But she did make the point that the board was not going to endorse 840 Atlantic as proposed.

The board's vote is only advisory, though, so stay tuned for tweaks, negotiations, and efforts to lobby Council Member Laurie Cumbo, whose preferences will be key if the project proceeds next year, during the last year of her term.