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

ESD: never mind, no answers yet about upcoming middle-school; no update on plan to meet housing deadline; meetings stay virtual; notes stay elusive

This is the first of three posts about the Nov. 16, 2021 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting. The second concerned affordable housing. The third concerned Barclays Center issues.

OK, the meeting was short and not very informative--though the non-update on the project's future again cast doubt on the likelihood of meeting the May 2025 deadline for 2,250 units of affordable housing, given that 876 more are needed beyond those under construction.

Despite an agenda stating that a representative of the School Construction Authority would appear, presumably to provide an update on the middle-school planned for the B15 tower (and not scheduled to open until Fall 2024), that SCA rep did not appear.

Tobi Jaiyesimi, the Atlantic Yards project manager for Empire State Development, read several questions:
  • Is there more than one school operating in the new building? 
  • What is the schedule for the school opening? 
  • What are the hours of operation? 
  • Is there an after-school program?
  • Are there crossing guards assigned?
  • At what intersections will the guards be posted? 
  • Where will the bus dropoff and pick-up be scheduled?
  • If there are several buses, where will they line up?
  • Will there be any assigned parking for school staff?
  • What are the schedules/locations for deliveries and garbage pickup? 
  • How will dismissals be handled? Will the entire school will be dismissed at one time?
The answer: TBD, by the Department of Education (DOE) closer to the school's opening date, from 9-18 months before school opening. That's not implausible, but why invite an SCA rep in the first place?

In response to a request posed in the chat to have DOE representative participate in future Quality of Life meetings, Jaiyesimi said "that request has been noted."

Staying virtual

For now, future Quality of Life meetings are expected to remain virtual, she said. That allows people to attend without leaving home but also--because attendees can't speak or be seen, and questions/chat are not shared with other attendees--it's notably untransparent.

About 20 people attended this meeting, which lasted less than 40 minutes.

Project updates

I'll write separately about affordable housing and also the Barclays Center. Attendees got brief updates on current progress at four sites--but no big-picture updates.

Scott Solish of master developer Greenland Forest City Partners said that 18 Sixth Ave. (B4, AKA Brooklyn Crossing) should get its first Temporary Certificate of Occupancy "hopefully by the end of this year," which move-ins in either late December or sometime in early January.

The catercorner 662 Pacific St. (B15, AKA Plank Road) already has some residents.

Construction fences and sidewalk sheds will be pulled back over time. At B4, it should be by early spring.

Amir Stein of TF Cornerstone said the B12/B13 sites (615 Dean St. and 595 Dean St.) are making steady progress, with the buildings expected to be topped out by December. Once concrete is finished, the cranes will come down--likely at the end of this year or potentially into early next year.

No info on Site 5, platform, housing deadline

Solish said the settlement reached between P.C. Richard and original developer Forest City regarding a purported promise to include the retailer in the future complex at the parcel, known as Site 5, was "great news."

But he was nonspecific about plans for that site catercorner to the arena, saying it "gives us the opportunity to continue thinking about opportunities for the site in the context of the General Project Plan." 

But they've already discussed transferring the bulk from the unbuilt B1 (aka Miss Brooklyn) tower over what's now the arena plaza, a process that would require public hearings. There's just no current market for a ground-up office building.

The B5 tower, the first over the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, is still in the "Department of Buildings under their review," Solish said, "but we're pushing forward and responding to their questions.

That building, which requires an expensive platform (which will support six towers, over two blocks, in two phases) would be key to meeting the 2025 affordable housing deadline. "We continue to work towards meeting all those deadlines and requirements," Solish said. Again, that was nonspecific.

While Greenland Forest City has completed the revamped railyard, and  turned over to the Long Island Rail Road, the platform remains unresolved, though the developer once pledged to start it in early 2020. (It should take three years for the first of two phases.)

"We continue working with the railroad as they emerge with their new leadership," Solish said. "And hopefully we've put the last year and a half behind us. Hopefully, fingers crossed in planning for the platform construction, as we complete our design process and go through the permitting with them."

AY CDC changes

The advisory (but usually toothless) Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) has two new board members, though it still doesn't have a Chairman--presumably the new Chair of ESD, Long Island's Kevin Law--or a schedule to resume meetings, which are supposed to be quarterly.

Drew Gabriel, a gubernatorial appointee, just happens to be a former ESD staffer, so he should be a reliable vote. He's also a Community Board 8 Sergeant at Arms and a staffer for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Deborah Young, a CB 8 2nd Vice-Chair, was appointed by the Senate President, presumably with input from state Senator Jabari Brisport. Young, a co-founder of the Crown Heights North Association, replaces John Heyer, who's from CB 6. 

As with every other current AY CDC board member--except Gib Veconi--they've had no appreciable past role in Atlantic Yards.

There are only 11 of 14 board members as of now, which means there should be two more gubernatorial appointments, along with the chair. The governor controls nine seats.

Where the notes from September?

Two months after the previous Quality of Life meeting, ESD had not posted notes.

The notes from the September meeting, Jaiyesimi said, "are being drafted and hope to be posted on the website shortly. There was a little bit of delay on my end in terms of finalizing the details."

Unanswered questions

I posed a couple of questions that were not addressed at the meeting.

While I predicted that we'd get an update on the reported harassment of a neighbor by an anti-masker construction worker last month, we didn't. I asked: What action did the construction company, developer, and/or ESD take?

I also re-asked a question I posed in April: What is the status of the makeover of Times Plaza open space? Why is it delayed?

Maybe they'll be answered in the notes.