Planning Commission files comments on Atlantic Yards

Commission recommends that the project be reduced by 635,000 sq.ft. and its open space increased. On September 27, 2006, the Planning Commission recommended to the Empire State Development Corporation that Forest City Ratner Companies reduce the overall size of its proposed downtown Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project by eight percent or 635,000 sq.ft. and increase the proposed open space from seven to eight acres to address the significant amount of pedestrian traffic that the project would generate. Ratner’s plan calls for a massive redevelopment of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards with an arena for the Nets, thousands of residential units, office space, new street retail, a transit hub, public open space and a possible hotel.

Ratner’s project triggered a Commission recommendation because the development would necessitate an override to local zoning restrictions on use, parking, loading, height, floor area, setback and signage. The Commission’s letter stated that the Nets arena was not a permitted use within the site’s residential districts or its residential/commercial overlay districts, and that the site’s residential zoning prohibited the proposed commercial uses.

The Commission examined two distinct development plans for the Atlantic Yards site: a residential variation with 6.7 million sq.ft. of housing (6,860 units), 600,000 sq.ft. of office space, and a 180-room hotel, and a commercial variation with 1.8 million sq.ft. of office space and 5.7 million sq.ft. of housing (5,790 units). Both variations included a Nets arena with 18,000 game seats and a 20,500 person capacity for events.

The Commission noted that the project “builds on the City’s ongoing efforts to continue the growth of Downtown Brooklyn,” but called for an eight percent reduction in floor area concentrated on three buildings. At Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, the Commission recommended that the 428-foot tall, 530,000-square-foot building be reduced to a 220-foot, 275,000-square-foot maximum. At Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, the Commission suggested that the proposed 350-foot-tall, 572,000- square-foot complex be reduced to a 250-foot height and 392,000- square-foot maximum floor area. At Atlantic and Sixth Avenues, the Commission called for reductions of 109 feet in height and 200,000 sq.ft. in floor area to result in a 355,000-square-foot building with a 225-foot maximum height.

The Commission pointed out that Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation had met with City Planning and agreed to design guidelines crafted by the Department. This agreement had improved the design, in the Commission’s opinion, in that it created views into the arena from the street, maximized street level retail on Dean Street and Sixth Avenue and added a glass enclosed public open space at the project’s focal point, the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Chair Amanda M. Burden commented at the Commission’s vote that City Planning insisted on design guidelines for the project, which she believed “reflected design excellence and enhanced the urban fabric.” Urging approval, Burden emphasized that the project would employ 15,000 people during construction and would bring a state-of-the-art arena to the area. Following the Commission’s review session on September 25th, Ratner reaffirmed its plan to include 2,250 affordable housing units and to construct 30 percent of the affordable housing during the first phase of construction. Burden pointed out that this agreement would substantially contribute to Mayor Bloomberg’s goal for new affordable housing development in the city.

The complete Commission recommendation is available on City Planning’s website at: /luproc/gpp_atlantic_yards.pdf.

City Planning Commission’s Comment Letter on Atlantic Yards General Project Plan to Empire State Development Corporation, Sept. 27, 2006.


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