In the wake of news that Atlantic Yards plans are stalled, the Dean Street Block Association (6th Avenue to Vanderbilt section) is asking the state to immediately halt demolitions on buildings in the project’s footprint. The group sent a letter (copy on jump) to Governor Paterson and ESDC head Avi Schick requesting a temporary moratorium on the destruction of buildings on the project site, particularly those that are being torn down for the second phase of Atlantic Yards. At present, the Ward Bakery building is being demolished, and the group’s letter says the “building is eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places.” The occupied townhouses in the photo at left, above, are also slated to come down. The concluding paragraph of the letter notes, “Please implement a moratorium on demolition until such time that the communities surrounding Atlantic Yards can be assured that rational decisions are being made to protect the area from the blight associated by dormant sites, over-scaled inefficiently situated construction staging, and surface parking lots.” This does indeed sound “rational.” What sense does it make to tear down buildingsâ€”especially one as treasured as Ward Bakeryâ€”for a development that may never happen?
Endangered AY [Brownstoner]
Ward’s Watch: Prepping By The Parapet [Brownstoner]
Photos by Tracy Collins.
Dear Governor Paterson and President and Chief Operating Officer Avi Schick;
Over the past few weeks we have learned that the schedule for construction of the Atlantic Yards Project is far longer than originally planned, and that there is doubt about whether Phase II of the Project as originally planned will ever reach the construction stage. Despite this news, there is ongoing demolition activity at the project site which may now be wholly unnecessary and which is having and will continue to have a long-term significant impact on the surrounding community. We are writing to ask that you cease all demolition on the site temporarily, and in particular on the footprint of Phase II. Before moving forward there must be a new review of the construction schedule, sequencing, and rationale in light of the changed circumstances.
The funding agreement between Forest City Ratner Companies and the Empire State Development Corporation signed in October 2007 and released last week includes no commitment from the developer to the State of New York to execute the second phase of the Project. It further reveals that those project components covered by commitments in the funding agreementâ€”i.e. Phase I–may be built out following an extended construction schedule. As a result, the announced timeline for the project is no longer functional and there are no meaningful obligations we are currently aware of that require the developer to complete the Project.
Demolition of the buildings on the Phase II footprint is ongoing. In particular, the demolition of the Ward Bread Bakery building and its facade is imminent. This building is eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places, and the FEIS found its destruction to be a significant adverse impact. Likewise,
we believe the imminent demolition to make room for a construction office of the townhouses that extend on Dean Street from 6th Avenue to the Swedish Baptist Church National Historic District will impact the fabric of the surrounding area.
The context for the demolition of the second phase footprint this early in the construction of the project is still to make room for the residential buildings, open space and indoor parking lots located in the second phase footprint by the general project plan. The temporary and interim uses contemplated for the footprintâ€”mainly as a parking lot for the construction workers on Phase I, and later possibly as parking for arena patrons–were conditional on the future plans for the site necessitating the demolition of the area anyway. It was not anticipated that the buildings be demolished to make way for interim or temporary uses only.
The revised timetable undercuts a number of assumptions about the temporary and interim uses of the Phase II footprint, such as:
âˆ‘ The peak number of construction workers on site was established based on the assumption that all of Phase I would be built at the same time. Now only the arena is to be built in the first stage of the first phase.
âˆ‘ The suspended build-out of Miss Brooklyn and the cluster buildings around the arena provides unforeseen locations for the construction staging, holding areas for deliveries and construction worker parking. These areas are superior to the areas assigned for those uses in the general project plan because there is direct access from truck routes and they will draw a lower amount of traffic for the shortest distance down local roads.
âˆ‘ The apparently extended timetable for the moving of the railyard may allow for more flexibility in its construction, lowering the necessity of placing supporting services for its construction outside the railyard itself. The railyard footprint, much of it below grade and/or directly off of truck routes, may be not maximized in the construction plans as they are currently proposed.
The Prospect Heights area where the second phase of the project is located is comprised of a stable and growing community of unique historic character. All of its streets in the vicinity of the project, including Dean Street, Pacific Street, and
Carlton Avenue are lined with primarily residential uses that should be protected from unnecessary impacts from the construction plans of the Atlantic Yards project.
Please implement a moratorium on demolition until such time that the communities surrounding Atlantic Yards can be assured that rational decisions are being made to protect the area from the blight associated by dormant sites, over-scaled inefficiently situated construction staging, and surface parking lots. We ask the State not to lose sight of the principal purpose it has identified for the Project, which is to eliminate blight.
Peter Krashes, Board Member signing for the Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt Avenue Board:
Serena Mulhern, President
Rhona Hetsrony, Vice President
Sal Raffone, Treasurer
Doug Derryberry, Secretary
CC: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries; Council Member Letitia James; Senator Eric Adams; Senator Velmanette Montgomery; Councilmember David Yassky; Assemblyman James Brennan; Councilmember Bill de Blasio; Assemblywoman Joan Millman; Honorable Marty Markowitz Brooklyn Borough President; Ombudsman Forrest Taylor, Chairperson Robert Matthews; District Manager Doris Alexander; Chairman Richard Bashner, District Manager Craig Hammerman; Chairperson John Dew, District Manager Robert Perris; Chairperson Richard Bashner; District Manager Craig Hammerman; Commissioner Patricia J. Lancaster; Commissioner Amanda Burden