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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)

As construction starts for platform at first railyard block, pedestrian & traffic flow limited; parking truncated; questions about work hours, trucks, sanitation

The most important news, in my view, from last night's appearance of a Greenland USA executive at a meeting of the North Prospect Heights Association regarded the timetable for construction of the first phase of the platform, the first tower (B5), and the question marks over the remaining project.

But Scott Solish was there to talk to the project's immediate neighbors about the significant changes to traffic and pedestrian flow from the establishment of construction fences around the perimeter of the first block of the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard, between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, and Sixth and Carlton avenues. This could last three years.

Both topics likely will be amplified at tonight's public, online Quality of Life meeting, hosted at 6 pm by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project.

Another close-up view of Block 1120 was also shown; see below
Solish, the head of development for Greenland USA, noted he was approaching his ninth anniversary of joining the project,

Construction fences around the B15 (662 Pacific St., aka Plank Road) and B4 (18 Sixth Ave., aka Brooklyn Crossing) sites will be gone shortly, allowing for construction fences for Block 1120, that first railyard block. Fences are pending permits, he said, from the Department of Buildings and Long Island Rail Road; platform work should take three years.

On Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Atlantic, he said, there will be a southbound lane and a northbound lane that will go straight across the intersection as well as a left turn lane from Sixth onto Atlantic. Pedestrians will have to use the west side of Sixth Avenue.

An area of white along Sixth midway between Pacific and Atlantic indicates a ramp for access to the Long Island Rail Road yard; otherwise, the fence will line up with the sidewalk.

Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues will have one-way traffic from east to west, starting at Carlton. The construction fence will move into what is today an area for combat parking.

Parking will remain on most of the south side of Pacific, except for one segment, close to Sixth Avenue, where the fence will bump out to accommodate a crane.

Along Carlton between Pacific and Atlantic, there will be one lane for northbound traffic and another for southbound, with pedestrian access on the east side of the street only.

Along Atlantic Avenue, the median taken out during the B4 construction will be restored, but eastbound traffic will be constricted from three travel lanes to two starting west of Sixth Avenue to Carlton Avenue. The construction fence will go into a former travel lane, allowing room for deliveries and truck movement. The bus stop on Atlantic east of Sixth will move a block east.

In response to a question, Solish said that most truck deliveries would be behind the fence on Atlantic, thanks to a ramp mid-block, but some would be on Pacific Street, closer to residences.

The demapped block of Pacific Street between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues will serve to stage trucks, though neighbors remained skeptical that some would end up staging in nearby streets.

Platform work

Platform work, Solish said, “is primarily building the deck first,” which involves completion of the remaining columns—some have been started—to support concrete. That could take 12 to 16 months. After that most of the work is underneath the deck, except for the landscaping and the final work that goes into the open work around the three towers.

The deck serves as a “roof” for LIRR functions. Underneath, there will be sprinkler work mechanical work, plumbing, ventilation lighting, communications work.

After the concrete has been installed, vertical building work can be concurrent, as long as it’s approved. Solish estimated B5 could go vertical in early to mid-Spring 2023.

That might be relatively concurrent with the opening of B12 and B13 on the southeast block of the project, which should allow for the use of public open space—“two-and-a-half-ish acres,” Solish said—on that southeast block.

Questions: parking

Solish said a lot of submitted questions concerned the loss of (free) on-street parking.

“I don't intend to turn this into a philosophical discussion about car parking on city streets,” he said—in a nod to the argument that, in a city well served by public transit, car owners should be cautious of their claims for free storage.

He noted that the garage at 535 Carlton, with entrance on Dean Street, will expand from 303 spaces to 758 spaces next year.

Unmentioned: there will be no expanded entrance capacity and, the existing periodic bottlenecks might be intensified.

He noted that there’s no new uptick in demand to use the limited garages in the project from current residents. He confirmed, in response to a question, that the new buildings would not contain parking.

Questions: schedule & impacts

Solish said, in response to a question about noise in early morning hours, said no work starts before 7, though sometimes—thanks to after-hours variances—there are deliveries or the need to warm up major equipment. (Don’t those add noise?)

He said they’d be working around the LIRR schedule. The train yard usually is empty by 4:30 pm, serving the late-day rush, “and our work day… ends usually before then.” After-hours work will be announced, he said.

Previous after-hours work had proven disruptive to neighbors.

Solish promised an 8-foot soundproofing fence. He was asked about the noise impact on apartments well above that flanking the railyard.

Noise will decrease once concrete work is finished. The project’s Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, or MEC, requires contractors to use equipment that dampens noise. “So it doesn't eliminate it, it does mitigate it,” Solish said. “Once you get above the fences, there's not much that can be done other than to try and go quickly and comprehensively.”

Questions: garbage

Elaine Weinstein said that the Department of Sanitation should visit Pacific Street, because microwave ovens and other large objects have been dumped.

Solish said the developer also would clean up the area. “We’ll have our laborers, our labor force, make sure that sites are clean and maintained, even if it extends into the railroad’s property."

Questions: oversight

Solish said they didn’t tolerate idling of vehicles, noting that signs warn subcontractors that such practices will be flagged. “It's not a perfect system, but we do enforce it,” he said. (That said, they haven’t, to my knowledge, shared the number of infractions and disciplinary actions.)

When a resident noted previous heavy trucks on the street, Solish said that he undersood, since he lives in Greenpoint, with six active projects nearby.

“We do try to minimize the impacts,” he said, saying that he sees every communication to the project’s Community Liaison Office. (That CLO is mentioned in the bi-weekly Construction Update: 866-923-5315, a voicemail box, or

Robert Puca said that they really needed someone onsite to contact.

Solish said that they had an independent onsite environmental monitor, the firm Remedial Engineering, which enforces Department of Buildings regulations and requirements in the MEC, which include things like using equipment aimed to minimize noise.

The Long Island Rail Road staff, as well as ESD staff, monitor the project, he said, and ESD has an environmental monitor and an owner's rep. (Those reports are made public only belatedly, if at all.) “So if there's an issue, let me know,” Solish said. “And I will do my best to address them.”

In response to Puca’s question, Solish said he was reluctant to post contact info for the monitors, because “they’re independent.” 

My take: there’s no one explicitly looking at it from a community perspective.

By mid-2023. the open space on the southeast block, but not the central passage, should be open

Questions: open space

In response to a question, Solish said that the open space would be open to the general public, with no fences.

That space is controlled by the Pacific Park Conservancy, with a board made up of representatives of the developer, with a rep from the Parks Department and community boards.

The Conservancy is funded by a Pacific Park Owners Association, which is made up of the building owners, or in the case of 550 Vanderbilt, the condominium association.

By spring next year, Solish predicted, all the fences will be down and the new open space will be finished, including a new dog run, additional play areas for kids, plus some more lawn and seating areas.

Sewer project adding to “chaos”

Puca noted that the city plans a sewer project on Dean Street from Sixth Avenue to Vanderbilt avenues, starting this summer.

That will coincide with move-ins to new buildings, given that B12 and B13 open next year. Chelsea Piers, he said, would be opening or finishing their project for a fitness center and field house below the two towers.

If it’s an event night at Barclays Center, the single garage at 535 Carlton Avenue, with the entrance on Dean Street just east of Carlton, typically gets backed up, causing “massive traffic jams,” he said.

So “we are expecting chaos in this neighborhood,” Puca said, asking how it would be controlled.

Solish said he didn’t “think it's a in the grand scheme of things a complicated amount of work.” (City officials will brief neighbors later this month at a Community Board 8 meeting.) He said he’d try to find out more.

That sewer work, said NPHA’s Peter Krashes, is meant to last about three years.

A “world-class project”

Solish, in his closing remarks, said “I know it's not easy for you, longtime residents, neighbors, owners, renters, business owners in the area. It's it's and I do my best and we do our best to do a good job—build a world class project that hopefully becomes part of the fabric of the neighborhood."

He said—checking off commercial tenants—that the project “turns into places where you can meet a friend for coffee… [or] ice cream or get a beer or take a pottery class or send your kids to [pre]school or go to the doctor, or recommend someone to live.”

And they tried to “do it in a respectful, positive way. I know it's not easy. I know everyone's lived through this for much longer than my almost nine years of working on the project”

In his final thank you, Solish made a special shout-out to the bar Beer Street South, on Vanderbilt Avenue in the base of 550 Vanderbilt.