Friday, October 28, 2005


Downsizing? Marty says yes, but a 15% cut would barely return Atlantic Yards to the starting point

In a 10/28/05 New York Daily News story headlined Beep's downsize call, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz again called for the Atlantic Yards project to be downsized, but again would not offer specifics:
Plans for the 22-acre miniature city proposed for Brooklyn call for an NBA arena and 16 towers up to 620 feet high.
Nine million square feet of new office and residential space would dwarf surrounding structures, including the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, currently Brooklyn's tallest.
Markowitz told the Daily News that benefits from the $3.5 billion project such as jobs, affordable housing and park space should be preserved while building heights are reduced.
"The urban design challenge is how do we [preserve] the benefits and downscale the heights of the buildings proposed," Markowitz said.
He didn't offer a specific reduction, however.
..."Now listen, we've got to downscale it," Markowitz said on the TV show [NY1]. "There's no question that the community is right when they call for downscaling the size, and they're right on that."

First, note that calling it "office and residential space" obscures the fact that the vast majority would be residential space, and luxury housing at that.

The original plan, in December 2003, proposed 7.6 million zoning square feet (though Forest City Ratner says 7.7):
While the final details of the plan are still subject to an agreement among the City , the State, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Forest City Ratner Companies, the proposed 7.7 million zoning square feet at Brooklyn Atlantic Yards would be divided into approximately:
· 800,000 square feet for the sports arena – with 19,000 seats for basketball games and 20,000 as configured for other events, such as concerts;
· six acres of publicly accessible open space;
· 4.4 million square feet of residential, in approximately 4,500 units
· 2.1 million square feet of commercial office space;
· 300,000 square feet of retail space;
· 3,000 parking spaces.

On 9/16/05, the scoping document from the Empire State Development Corporation, proposed 9,132,000 gross square feet:
The development program currently includes, at full build-out, approximately 628,000 gross square feet (gsf) of commercial office space, 196,000 gsf of hotel use, 256,000 gsf of retail, up to 7.2 million gsf of residential use (approximately 7,300 residential units), approximately 4,000 parking spaces, more than 7 acres of publicly-accessible open space, and the proposed 850,000 gsf arena.... As part of the proposed project, a portion of the parcel identified as Site 5 of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Plan would be developed with approximately 356,000 gsf of residential use and 347,000 gsf of office use in addition to the existing approximately 47,000 gsf of retail.

I'm told--though I don't yet have a document confirming it--that the original plan was actually 8 million gross square feet, so the appropriate comparison would be 8 million and 9.132 million.

Some percentages regarding the current plan:
--7.2 million square feet for residential use represents 78.8% of the total 9.132 million square feet. That makes this by far a residential project, so any description of it as "mixed-use" or "office-retail-residential" should acknowledge that it is hardly balanced among those uses.
--5,050 of 7,300 housing units, or 69.2% of the total, would be market rate. Of 7.2 million square feet, 69.2% would represent 4.98 million square feet. That would represent 50.1% of the total project square footage. In other words, it's not just planned as a residential project, it's a luxury housing project.

Some percentages regarding the difference between current plan and the one originally announced:
--9.132 million square feet represents a 14.1% increase over 8 million square feet.
--a 10% cut from 9.132 million square feet would be .913 million square feet, reducing the project to 8.21 million square feet, still larger than originally planned.
--a 15% cut from 9.132 million square feet would be 1.37 million square feet, reducing the project to 7.76 million square feet, only slightly smaller than originally planned.

In other words, even a 15% reduction would bring Atlantic Yards just past its starting point, the largest development in Brooklyn's history.

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