Pacific Park Developer Wants to Replace Modell’s With Borough’s Biggest Office Building

Image via Google Maps. Illustration by Brownstoner

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Greenland Forest City — the developer partnership behind the Pacific Park mega-development — now wants to build one of the borough’s largest buildings across the street from the Barclays Center, according to Crain’s.

Pacific Park’s behemoth office tower could employ thousands of Brooklyn workers and be as big as 1.5 million square feet, but only if the developer can transfer air rights from the nearby Barclays Center plaza, a triangle of land jutting out into one of Brooklyn’s busiest intersections.

Right now, 590 Atlantic Avenue is occupied by a Modell’s Sporting Goods and a P.C. Richard & Son. But in the fall, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) — a state-run economic development group that helps coordinate public and private interests and complex real estate transactions — began the eminent domain process of transferring ownership of the site to Greenland Forest City.

With 590 Atlantic Avenue’s current development rights, GFC can build a 440,000-square-foot office building — something it’d planned to do for years. But with a little clever maneuvering, that square footage can be tripled.

Atlantic Yards Office Building Forest City

Barclays Center Plaza. Photo by Mary Hautman

You see, GFC also controls a triangle of land in front of the Barclays Center formed by the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues — across the street from Modell’s. At one point, the developers had planned to build a second commercial building there.

Right now, it’s home to a public plaza with wooden benches, metal planters and a sedum-topped subway station entrance. But GFC’s new idea is to keep the plaza as is and move its development rights over to the site across the street.

This is a big change for the heavily trafficked area and for Pacific Park. Originally the plan was to build a smaller 440,000-square-foot office building at the Modell’s site and a larger 1.1-million-square-foot office building at the Barclays Center plaza site, instead of one giant building.

With an air-rights transfer, the developer can construct at 590 Atlantic Avenue the borough’s biggest office building — practically on top of Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub at Atlantic Terminal.

Photo via Google Maps. Illustration by Brownstoner

Photo via Google Maps. Illustration by Brownstoner

Before this clever development-rights-transfer proposal can move forward, it needs to be reviewed and approved by the Empire State Development Corporation. An environmental impact statement will also be required.

As we mentioned above, the ESDC has been working closely with Greenland Forest City on the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development — most recently using eminent domain to seize seven houses and condemn the Modell’s and P.C. Richard & Son stores.

The prospect to keep the pedestrian plaza while still creating approximately the same amount of space for workers could be appealing, although 1.5 million square feet is enormous and could mean a tower taller than the iconic Hanson Place clocktower nearby.

“Pacific Park was always meant to include modern office space,” said a Greenland Forest City Partners spokesperson in a statement. “We think the time is right for the borough to have an iconic office building for the new Brooklyn economy and the thousands of jobs it will bring to the doorstep of one of the city’s largest transit hubs. We’re exploring the best way to achieve this while preserving the plaza in front of Barclays Center as open public space.”

P.C. Richard & Son, which owns a portion of the development site at 590 Atlantic Avenue, announced last month that it is suing Forest City over the whole eminent domain sitch, according to The Real Deal. P.C. Richard & Son claims that in 2006 Forest City promised to give it a new space if the Atlantic Avenue site was ever taken with eminent domain.

At this point, it’s unclear how soon P.C. Richard and Modell’s might close.

Brooklyn needs more office space. Brownstoner readers already know the demand for offices is particularly high in Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo and the Navy Yard —- the highest it’s been since World War II. Only 3 percent of office space in the area is currently vacant, according to a study by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. Add this one to the growing list of office developments now in the works.

[Source: Crain’s | TRD]

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