AYW has learned that Forest City Ratner's engineering firm Stantec has filed an application with the NYC Department of Buildings for construction of a surface parking lot on block 1129 (bounded by Vanderbilt Avenue, Dean Street, Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street) for Barclays Center patrons. The application specifies 722 parking spaces for the lot, and a 30 foot curb cut on Vanderbilt Avenue. The application documents indicate installation of 16 detention tanks for storm water management, presumably instead of planting areas that would otherwise reduce storm water runoff from the lot. The application also calls for fencing at the lot line, calling into question the four feet of planted space buffering the fence and the lot specified in the Technical Memo issued by ESDC in December 2010 in response to a court decision in litigation challenging the agency's approval of the 2009 Modified General Project Plan. As of May 2, the application is under review at DOB pending approval.
The application carries a legend "THIS SITE IS EXEMPT FROM COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE NYC ZONING RESOLUTION AS PER LETTER DATED DEC.20,2011 FROM ESDC." The text of the letter is not available from the DOB web site, so it is not clear on what basis exemption is claimed. Atlantic Yards' 2009 Modified General Project Plan did not disclose an override to NYC zoning regulations for surface parking lots. AYW has argued that the lot should be designed to comply with City zoning requirements.
Although detailed plans for the lot are not available from the DOB web site, the application documents are sufficiently specific to suggest that plans for the parking lot have been substantially completed. ESDC has stated that plans for the lot would not be released before a May 22 meeting on the project's Transportation Demand Management Plan, even though construction of the lot was to begin on May 1. The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (a sponsor of AYW) on Monday sent letters calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo to suspend construction on the parking lot until plans were made available for public review and comment. Concern about use of block 1129 for surface parking for as long as 25 years figured prominently into a recent Appellate Division ruling upholding an order from a lower court for a supplemental environmental impact statement to analyze the impact of the lot on local residents.
The application documents raise several questions:
- The project's Master Development Agreement requires 1,100 onsite parking spaces to be available at the time of the arena's opening. If the number of spaces on block 1129 is reduced to 722, where with the other 378 spaces be located?
- 722 is still a large number of parking spaces for one Brooklyn block. Will stackers be used?
- Will the Vanderbilt entrance be the only access to/egress from the lot?
- What are the specifications for the perimeter fence and its buffer from the surrounding sidewalks?
Asked for comment, ESDC Project Director Arana Hankin stated in an email that ESDC has not approved the specifications contained in the Stantec application, and that community members will have an opportunity to comment on the plans before they are finalized.