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What are the consequences of a change in parking? If we had an SEIS, we'd know.

On May 2, ESDC's CEO Kenneth Adams announced there would be "south" of 550 parking spaces in block 1129.  He said the target is to deliver half of the 1,100 detailed in the 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP).  The project plan since 2006 has always required 1,100 parking spaces for arena patrons in the entire Atlantic Yards Project footprint.  The original plan detailed up to 944 spaces in total in block 1129 with a large percentage used by non-arena generated vehicles. Only in 2009 were the plans changed to place all arena patron parking in block 1129.  

The commitment to provide 1,100 arena patron parking spaces inside the project footprint has now run up against the physical constraints of block 1129, forcing a reduction by the developer.  AYW's analysis also suggests the 944 spaces detailed in 2006 would have run up against the same constraints. 


The plans of ESDC and FCRC run up against the laws of physics

In order to enable the parking lot on block 1129 to fit the 1,100 spaces required for arena patrons, the 2009 MGPP mentioned the possibility of the use of stackers.  In an ambitious multi-tasking of the only space available, the lot also became home to the parking for residents of building B2, employees of the 78th Precinct and construction workers. In addition, a LIRR facility was added, 754 Pacific Street was retained for construction offices, and the lifespan of the use of construction staging at the location was lengthened.

In an October 2011 report published in Atlantic Yards Report, ESDC's environmental consultant HDR refers to concerns about "extensive vehicle queues on the local street network" and "excessive wait times" for arena attendees post-event if vehicle stackers are used.  These concerns may well be behind ESDC's announcement of a reduction in parking on block 1129. 

But how many cars can block 1129 really hold? Documents submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings describe a lot area that is 144,501 square feet.  Using a calculation provided by an architect with experience in the design of parking facilities, dividing the available square footage of the lot by 300 square feet per car will provide the approximate number of spaces a parking lot including driveways can fit. 144,501 square feet divided by 300 results in 482 spaces.  

However, the area described in the DOB application does not include perimeter plantings.  The 2010 Technical Memo describes no less than a four-foot landscaped perimeter around the lot set in from the property line, and although the documents submitted to DOB do not include perimeter landscaping, CEO Adams confirmed some would be implemented. Reduced by 4 feet of perimeter landscaping only, the lot would be 139,493 square feet and fit approximately 465 spaces. 

The lot could grow in the future as the LIRR operations area or 754 Pacific Street is removed and the surface lot is expanded. Also, the developer could potentially create smaller than average parking spaces, increasing the total number provided.  Likewise the lot is large, and efficiencies may be found to reduce the number of driveways.  ESDC and FCRC have promised to present plans for the surface parking lot on block 1129 on May 22.


The missing SEIS

Our calculations also suggest the 944 spaces disclosed in 2006 were never really feasible, at least not without stackers unmentioned in project documents at the time.  The 2006 plan anticipates construction staging would continue to exist on the lot, as well as parking for 78th Precinct employees, but does not include the footprint of 754 Pacific Street or the LIRR operations facility.  Assuming no landscaping and no construction staging, the entire lot could have fit only 605 spaces.  

In the 2006 plans, 605 spaces on block 1129 would have been sufficient because the rest of the required 1,100 arena spaces could have been located elsewhere in the project site. But in 2009, FCRC changed the project schedule in a way that delayed the delivery of parking elsewhere on the site, much of it destined for arena patrons.  Instead of preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to analyze the effect of this schedule change, FCRC and ESDC apparently chose to assume block 1129 would be capable of holding 1,100 spaces—an impossibility without the added (and now discarded) plan to use stackers.

In July of 2011, the New York State Supreme Court found that ESDC's 2009 approval of the MGPP violated State environmental law, and ordered the agency to prepare an SEIS. ESDC and FCRC appealed the ruling, but were denied by a unanimous decision of the Appellate Division in April 2012. ESDC has not yet stated when or if it plans to comply with the court order for an SEIS that is now almost three years late. In the meantime, plans for parking continue to shift, reducing the parking for arena patrons by half with no formal study released to the public of the impact to traffic and on-street parking in local neighborhoods.  Nor has it assessed the long term environmental impacts on the community of a lot that does not meet NYC's own guidelines for the landscaping of surface parking lots.


Illustration:  Joel Stipano


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