Saturday, December 17, 2005

Site Selection

In a previous post we discussed why the arena will not be able to provide parking under Blocks 1119 and 1127. Security experts agree that parking areas should no longer be located below sports and entertainment facilities, and that buffer areas should be provided for pedestrian-only circulation at sport venues (See link). In fact, according to a recent Sports Illustrated article, the NFL and MLB prohibit parked vehicles within 100 feet of stadiums for security reasons.

On this site, since all of Block 1121 and most of Block 1120 will continue to house the LIRR train yard just below grade, the only available area of any consequence for underground venue parking is the Phase II Block 1129.
This block, at below-grade levels, is also the only site available for Phase II residential/office parking. Is it possible to excavate deep enough to provide both residential/office and venue parking below Block 1129? Depending on the elevation of rock, this could easily add a hundred million dollars to the construction budget, a very conservative estimate. More likely: look for parking garages to spring up further east on Atlantic Avenue.

There really are only two options: either move the arena to a different site, or invest in rapid transit and don’t provide associated venue parking. If Madison Square Gardens is the model, no directly associated venue parking is required. If a MLB stadium, or Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands is the model, build the arena someplace else, where people can drive to it.


Blogger Escap said...

No parking is actually a great idea, and especially so because it's almost unique in being constructive. Most FCR criticism is along the lines of "Ratner is fat and I hope he dies", but suggesting no parking implies you're actually willing to work with the city and with developers to find ways in which this plan can work. As a life long resident of the area, I couldn't be happier. Thank you!

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issues of underground parking & its terrorist vunerability, along with sports arena buffer zones and vehicle & individual screening have been raised as long ago as spring of last year and have been included in several groups' responses to the ESDC's draft scoping document for the EIS. The real deal is to have the ESDC pay attention to this community input and perform an honest assessment of the impacts of this out of scale development. Thank you for raising these issues in your blog. Everything that brings them into focus and public attention helps.

The key, as your post clearly reveals, is that no terrorist ever has to set foot in Brooklyn AGAIN for there to be unintended but significant consequences.

More information regarding the connection between the arena project and the wide range of impacts of living in a post 9/11 world can be found at:

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it's as much an issue as to whether FCR critics are willing to work with developers, but whether a developer is will to work with us. Most of us would like to see some kind of development over the railyards.

It is Ratner's unwilligness to work with the community and ignore constructive criticism that has contributed to his odious reputation.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are a lot of people in the neighborhood, particularly among the community board set, who believe that on-site parking is a "mitigation." they believe that if you don't include copious parking with the arena then cars will come and steal all of the on-street parking that they use in their residential neighborhoods. this belief is not limited to neighborhood folks either. our zoning codes demand that developers include quite significant amounts of parking in downtown brooklyn. it's very very unfortunate and problematic. i imagine the developer would be happy to be free of these parking requirements.

so, two important things:

1. we've got to educate people that parking is the #1 predictor of traffic. if you build parking, they'll come in cars. we probably need to get some zoning variances for this.

2. we need to address the on-street concern. it's not an invalid concern. neighborhoods around the site are going to need some kind of residential parking permit or parking management regime put in place.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FCR will be making $12 million per year from 4000 parking spots.
I think they would be reluctant to give up this income.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Escap said...

At best, DDDB's message to Ratner has been "Please build something that won't be profitable for you," which is unlikely to succeed. Come up with a profitable alternative and you might get some results.

At worst, the message has been, "Don't do it. Go away." Also not likely to elicit a positive response.

Perhaps I'm wrong. What was the profitable alternative presented to Ratner by DDDB? How exactly can he "work with the community" while still earning the same returns that he expects to with his current plan?

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atlantic Yards straddles three community districts so maybe there is some document that I am not familiar with or just plain forgot; but I am curious what the basis is for the anonymous comment that "the community board set" believes that on-site parking is a "mitigation."

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


the basis for that comment comes from the parking requirements in our own zoning codes and numerous meetings and disussions with brooklyn community board "leaders" who believe that abundant parking is a mitigation to traffic. many of these discussions took place during the downtown bklyn rezoning (you were working for marty at the time i believe) as we tried to limit the amount of parking beneath new buildings in downtown brooklyn. perhaps you can't find any documentation on this because there is NONE. your community board did absolutely nothing to limit the amount of parking in new buildings in downtown brooklyn because many in your community board, and the other boards, believe that more parking in downtown brooklyn is better for the residential neighborhoods around downtown brooklyn. this, robert, is an urban planning mistake of the first order. abundant, inexpensive parking generates more traffic, not less.

but don't take it from me, some anonymous griper on a blog, talk to some of your community board members. run the idea of limiting parking at atlantic yards by them and see what their responses are. i betcha 50% of everyone you talk to insist on having plenty of parking at atlantic yards because they believe that that will ensure that their on-street spaces are not taken up by arena visitors.

as for anonymous 4:47 -- run your imaginary "numbers" by the developer. seriously. give stuckey a call and ask him. he'll likely tell you that there are lots of better ways to make money on that land than building parking garages. they almost certainly don't want to build as much parking as the zoning requires. this is a place where the community and developer could likely work together pretty easily. but not if ign'nt community board folk continue to believe that lots and lots and lots of parking spaces in downtwon bklyn is a good thing for the neighborhoods around downtown bklyn. lord help us.

as for escap: yes, as you suspected, you are wrong. you have not paid close enough attention to the work that dddb has done. they have put together a thoughtful, community-generated alternative plan for the site. a competing developer took on that plan making it quite clear that a private developer could still make a very fine profit building only over the railyards, building smaller, and not using eminent domain. you don't have to build as big as ratner to make the railyards profitable.

as to your point that the community must ensure that ratner "earns the same returns."
ok. how much? what are his projected and required margins on this project? do you know? if so, do tell. let the community know what "returns" ratner needs on this project. that'd be a great point of departure for public debate. but if you're suggesting that we just trust the developer -- that we should just assume that he is only seeking a fair profit margin and thus needs every inch of those tens of millions of square feet of real estate -- well, what planet are you on, man? yeah, it's going to cost ratner something to make this project suitable for the community. if it were just about his profit margins, he could build 16 cheap, gigantic boxes and call it a day. oh wait! that's exactly what he did at atlantic terminal, metrotech and the nightmareplex movie theater on court street in bklyn heights. he built buildings designed for profit margins rather than people. you get what you ask for, escap. you get what you deserve.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Escap, I believe that the thing that is forcing Ratner to attempt such an over-sized monstrosity is the addition of the arena. It will be the most expensive arena ever, and a money-loser. Thus, he is trying to make up for that by building more densely for the rest of the project.

Somehow, Extell was able to come up with a plan that built soley over the railyards that they felt was profitable for them. Too bad the MTA refused to entertain the Extell offer for the yards even though it was 3 times greater than Ratner's.

As far as I'm concerned, Ratner had hoped to ram through this plan that had been cooked up in secret, and he has never shown any intention of doing anything that wasn't good just for him. If he had wanted to reduce opposition, he might have tried speaking to those groups that oppose the project. Instead, he only spoke with those that accepted whatever he offered, including BUILD which is only a phony group paid for and created by him.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well stated, anonymous

1:13 AM  

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