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September 26, 2006

City Planning Commission weighs in

AY-NYT.jpgThree years after the Atlantic Yards project was announced, the City Planning Commission (CPC) chimes in with "guidelines."

For the uninitiated, City Planning would typically come up with the design guidelines first, and then the City would seek a developer. As with many things Atlantic Yards, the process has been bass-ackwards.

All three papers highlight the CPC's recommendation of an 8% scaleback (reported three weeks ago in The NY Times). None of the papers mention that such a scaleback would peg the size of the project to just about its original size, when first unveiled in 2003.

It seems like architect Frank Gehry prevailed in his objections to the reduction of Miss Brooklyn, since the CPC did not recommend a scaleback of the building Gehry has referred to as his "ego trip."

Here's the coverage:
NY Daily News, City tweaks Atlantic Yards plan, sez tower height OK
CPC on Miss Brooklyn:

"We really do believe the height is appropriate at this location," said Regina Myer, Brooklyn director of city planning, though she called for three smaller buildings to be cut by about 100 to 200 feet.


The [Empire State Development Corporation], which is overseeing the project, could snub the Planning Commission's proposed changes with a two-thirds majority vote, but that's unlikely considering the city's financial backing for the plan.

The NY Times, City Planners Recommend 8% Reduction in Atlantic Yards The Times describes the project as three blocks long, but does not mention that it is two blocks wide. Also, the "roughly 8 million square feet" would make the project the same size as originally proposed:

At its meeting yesterday, the commission said the developer should cut back the massive project, which stretches three long blocks along Atlantic Avenue from Flatbush to Vanderbilt Avenues, from 8.65 million square feet to roughly 8 million square feet.

CPC ignores the view corridor to be dominated by Miss Brooklyn from Prospect Heights, but acknowledges the importance of sightlines to the Clock Tower from Park Slope:

The planning commission concluded that Miss Brooklyn’s height was appropriate for the location of the building, at the busy intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. But the bank building, which is being converted into condominiums, did figure into a recommendation that the developer reduce the height of a different tower, on an islandlike parcel across Flatbush Avenue from Miss Brooklyn. Planners said that tower should be cut by 100 feet to a height of 250 feet, because it would otherwise “detract” from views of the clock tower.

Ratner's PR guru Joe DePlasco says thank you very much:

“City Planning has been enormously helpful throughout the development process,” said Joe DePlasco.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says thank you very much:

“They’re calling for the maximum visibility of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, and that was my intention as well,” Mr. Markowitz said. “The good news here is that the city is saying it’s the right project at the right time and at the right location.”

What else went on at the meeting? Enter the Mad Overkiller to the rescue to fill in dozens of details left on the cutting room floor by the dailies.

Atlantic Yards Report, At City Planning, 8% scaleback surfaces, Phase 2 not guaranteed, and challenges ignored

City officials admit they have no assurances that Phase 2 (est. 2016) of the project would be built on time, if at all, thus jeopardizing planned open space and most of the affordable housing

The CPC sales pitch:

The review session got off to an inauspicious start as Regina Myer, director of the DCP’s Brooklyn office, described the project as “incredibly transit-oriented,” on “primarily state-owned land,” and located “in Downtown Brooklyn,” all highly debatable assertions that got some in the crowd muttering, including City Council Member Letitia James—who represents the Prospect Heights project location.

Norman Oder found the Commissioners' Q&A period enlightening. Good questions were posed, but the standard for accuracy isn't as high at the CPC as it is on Atlantic Yards Report, which is excusable since the Planning Commissioners and the CPC staff aren't really supposed to be experts on this stuff.

Posted by lumi at September 26, 2006 6:41 AM