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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Settlement in P.C. Richard case unlocks process to shift bulk across Flatbush Ave. to Site 5, from unbuilt tower approved for arena plaza. Will there be extra public outreach before complex faces approval?

Annotation added. Photo: Norman Oder
Yes, the process behind development at Site 5, longtime home to P.C. Richard and Modell's, has finally been unlocked, presaging a future large building at the parcel catercorner to the Barclays Center, bounded by Atlantic, Flatbush, and Fourth avenues, and Pacific Street.

First, a stay was lifted on condemnation of the P.C. Richard site, which, as I reported 10/1/21, potentially indicated a settlement. (Modell's, a tenant of original developer Forest City, was never at issue.)

And last week, as first reported yesterday by PincusCo, a settlement document (bottom) surfaced on the city's ACRIS database, indicating a "purchase and sale agreement" and "development agreement"--the contours and cost unspecified--between P.C. Richard's parent company A.J. Richard and a limited liability company called Pacific Park Site 5 Developer, headquarted at Greenland USA, the project's majority owner/developer.

Brookfield Properties, which bought out Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, presumably has a role as junior partner, since Forest City had purportedly guaranteed P.C. Richard a replacement store in the new building, then allegedly reneged--and a state court judge initially found for the retailer.

Image from L&L MAG adapted; pink arrows point to finished buildings. Green arrow at left = Site 5

Something larger's coming

Forest City's appeal on that case is moot. What's unclear is whether P.C. Richard will get such replacement space, and/or otherwise participate in the new tower complex. The 9/17/21 contract, filed 10/8/21, is called a Purchase and Sale Agreement and Development Agreement; the latter implies a broader role. 

(A month earlier, as another document below indicates, P.C. Richard paid off its mortgage. The name Site 5 refers to the parcel's location within the original Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area, or ATURA.)

While a building 250 feet tall, with 439,050 square feet was approved at Site 5 in 2009, the master developer (now Greenland Forest City Partners) in 2016 unveiled  plans to build a huge, two-tower project, shifting a significant amount of the bulk of the unbuilt B1 tower (aka "Miss Brooklyn," originally 620 feet, cut to 511 feet) planned for what is now the arena plaza.

That would create a much larger structure, more than 1.1 million square feet and perhaps 785 feet tall, at least as of then--but perhaps larger today. And the arena plaza would be preserved as a gathering place/safety valve for arena events and, when there are no such events, for the public.

From February 2016 presentation

What might be included

The 2016 proposal involved various configurations, including retail (once likened to the Time Warner Center), a hotel, office space, and residential space. 

The project has mostly been floated as office space--an "iconic office building," including a site offered to for its HQ2 search--but, who knows, could include more apartments, given the work-from-home trned. 

If so, that could add to the overall number of apartments in the project, which would inevitably inspire an argument for a commensurate percentage of affordable units.

And though the public process would take at least a year, it's remotely plausible that the construction of the Site 5 towers could help the project deliver the required 876 more affordable units (for a total of 2,250) by a May 2025 deadline. 
Shift of bulk proposed in 2016

Or--who knows--maybe the promise of additional affordable units would be used to justify stretching that deadline, thus allowing Greenland Forest City Partners to avoid onerous $2,000/month fines for each missing unit. Remember, Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park is a "never-say-never" project.

What's next

The developer cannot simply shift the bulk as of right. A lengthy--but, based on past experience, pre-determined--public process will be necessary to amend the project's guiding General Project Plan.

That will involve public hearings, public comment, and responses to such comments. Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees the process, answers to the governor, and governors want to build.

Note that the City Planning Commission in 2006, before the first state approval vote on Atlantic Yards, successfully recommended a reduction in height and bulk for Site 5:
Site 5, located on a site bounded by Atlantic, Fourth and Flatbush avenues, is proposed for a height of 350 feet and to contain approximately 572,000 zoning square feet. The Commission recognizes the prominence of this site, which is located across from both the Williamsburgh Savings Bank and Building 1 of the Arena block, as well as directly adjacent to the low-rise buildings west along Atlantic Avenue and the terminus of the Fourth Avenue corridor. The Commission believes that Site 5’s height should be carefully assessed within this context. Given this location, the Commission therefore recommends that Site 5 be reduced to a height of 250 feet with a reduction of approximately 180,000 zoning square feet to approximately 392,000 zoning square feet in order to provide a more varied composition of building heights and to provide a stronger transition to the Fourth Avenue corridor to the south.
However, the context for development has changed somewhat, with the approval of the 80 Flatbush project--with the taller of two towers 840 feet--two blocks away, similarly bordering row houses on one flank. Site 5 also borders the Brooklyn Bear's Garden, which may be jeopardized--we'll see the reports--by the construction and shadows.

Across Pacific Street from Site 5. Photo: N.O.
Will this public process be different? In January 2018, Jaime Stein, a departing member of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), suggested that the body could do more outreach to the public and elected officials before the Site 5 project moved forward.

Stein proposed that, when the Site 5 proposal is released, the AY CDC Board and ESD hire third-party planning, design and construction consultants to review the proposal to inform the board and the public.

Those consultants would convene and facilitate at least two preliminary public meetings and then share community priority issues with the board, which is supposed to advise ESD.

Stein recommended that consultants be hired prior to the public release of the Site 5 proposal, with access and review of all relevant documents, and that there are at least eight weeks between the public release of the Site 5 proposal and the AY CDC Board vote. 

The likely response--as we've heard already, when Stein raised the issue at an AY CDC--is that this duplicates the current environmental review process. But that assumes that AKRF, the state's ubiquitous environmental consultant, is hired by ESD to protect the public interest rather than to ensure a project passes legal muster.

At a meeting, ESD official Marion Phillips III offered an olive branch regarding Stein’s proposal: "I think there are some very good ideas related to community engagement." But that wasn't a full endorsement.