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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)

Now they tell us: construction of crucial platform delayed because of city water main work; fencing, announced for June, might go up next month

This is the first of three articles about the 9/20/22 Quality of Life meeting.

At community meetings in May, Scott Solish of Greenland USA--which dominates project master developer Greenland Forest City Partners--indicated that work around the Vanderbilt Yard was expected to start in weeks, pending permits, and those fences would be a precursor to construction of the long-awaited platform over the first railyard block.

Two months later, at another bi-monthly Quality of Life meeting 7/12/22, Solish again indicated that such work was expected to start in the next few business days. The block is bounded by Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, and by Sixth and Carlton avenues.

That never happened, though GFCP--via Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--dutifully circulates Construction Updates every two weeks indicating that such work is pending permits. 

And that, as I explain below, further delays the possibility the developer could meet its May 2025 affordable housing obligations.
From meeting presentation

Ongoing city work

Last night, Solish said they had gotten permits from the city Department of Transportation for three of the four blocks--Pacific Street, Sixth Avenue, and Carlton Avenue--but not Atlantic Avenue.

"Unfortunately, what I was not aware of at the time," Solish said, "was that the city's Department of Design and Construction [DDC] had never entirely finished their work on the water main project that was happening in Atlantic Avenue... We found out over the summer that DDC and their contractors needed this area to complete their work for the water main restoration."

Indeed, that work was noticed yesterday by neighbors.

That raises a few questions:
  • shouldn't they have learned that months ago and planned differently?
  • why didn't they tell us sooner?
"We were required to hold off on erecting the construction fence on Atlantic Avenue until DDC was able to complete their work, which we're hopeful will be happening in the next few weeks," said Solish.

What's next?

The new schedule, he said, is "very dependent upon on DDC's completion of their work, and then making sure that we can get the new schedule confirmed with our fence contractor and the Long Island Rail Road."

Are there any other factors that might affect the work? Solish said the water main work was the key issue, but noted, "The last thing we're waiting for is the final notice to proceed from Long Island Rail Road."

Whether the latter is just boilerplate or indicates additional contractual points is unclear.

What it means

GFCP must deliver another 876 (or 877) below-market "affordable" units by May 2025 or face $2,000/month fines for each missing unit.

Given the time for construction, and the further dealys, that deadline seems impossible to meet.

Surely GFCP does not want to pay such fines, and ESD--based on its posture toward the unpaid fines for the missing Urban Room and its unwillingness to ask GFCP for a housing schedule--seems unwilling to pressure the developer.

So is GFCP trying to renegotiate the deadline, and/or claim that COVID-19 delays and/or interference from other city projects has hampered its progress? It wouldn't be surprising--or if that's part of a package renegotiation regarding a new development at Site 5.

Does GFCP necessarily want to proceed with construction? Unclear, since the parent company, Shanghai-based Greenland Holdings Co., is, like peer companies, facing financial pressures.

Transparency issues

The virtual meeting lasted less than 25 minutes and draw only ten people, including the two presenters.

Part of that low turnout may have been because ESD did not, as has been its practice, circulate an agenda (typically vague) before the meeting.

It was not posted on ESD's website as of the morning, but was posted at some point later in the day--I didn't notice it until after the meeting started.

Tobi Jaiyesimi of ESD said that documents from the meeting, including the presentation and the agenda, will be posted on ESD's websites. 

The notes for the meeting, "as well as the outstanding notes from the July meeting will be posted on ESDs website as soon as possible," she said. She'd previously said they aimed to complete the notes within two or three weeks of the meeting,

"We're still figuring out the the structure of community meetings moving forward," said Jaiyesimi in response to a question about whether to return to in-person meetings.

Jaiyesimi said the next meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), the mostly toothless body (in my estimate) which is supposed to advise ESD,  meeting is being planned. It's supposed to meet quarterly and last met in June.