Update: The trees in the article below have been cut and no date for their replacement has been provided the community.
Once heralded as a "Garden of Eden" in Brooklyn by New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp, Atlantic Yards is becoming meaningfully less green step by step.
In what is a big loss for nearby residents, next week Forest City Ratner will remove 20 street trees on the northside of Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton to facilitate construction in the area. The photo to the right was taken this summer. No date has been provided for when they will be restored.
Forest City Ratner received a permit from the Parks Department in 2008 to remove 86 existing street trees in the public way inside the project footprint including the 20 trees on Pacific Street. A Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods FOIL at the time brought both the permit and a debate over restitution between the Parks Department and Forest City Ratner to light. FCRC initially asked for the financial restitution they were required to pay to be waived in lieu of the greater number of trees they said they were to plant with the project. In the end the Parks Department reduced the cost of restitution by the value of 116 street trees they were told would be planted on the project perimeter.
While the Parks Department has confirmed it recently updated this permit, it is not currently known to what extent it has been modified to take into account the changes to the project construction timetable, construction sequence, and phasing of property ownership made in 2009. The area where the trees on Pacific Street are located was originally anticipated to be the first area of the second phase of the project to be constructed. However, in October 2012, FCRC Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told investors that second phase construction would begin first on block 1129 (between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, and Dean and Pacific Streets). Further, at the time the 2008 permit was granted, it was assumed the air rights over the railyard would already be owned by FCRC. Now MTA still retains those rights and FCRC is not obligated to purchase them.
This means FCRC has been given permission to cut street trees lining MTA property they do not control, and because the construction timetable for this area is indeterminate, they may leave a now green area destitute of trees for a long time. With the information currently available, the neighborhood character of the northside of Pacific Street is likely to join nearby 6th Avenue as victim of construction delay-induced blight at Atlantic Yards.