Prospect Heights

No Pacific Park gym without environmental review, locals demand

“We are asking for honesty and transparency and respect."

August 12, 2019 Lore Croghan
Here’s a glimpse of the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development, where planned construction of a field house and gym is causing controversy. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Elected officials and civic leaders called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the construction of a field house and gym at the Pacific Park mega-project (formerly called Atlantic Yards) until a full-scale environmental review is done.

“We are asking for honesty and transparency and respect for the community and its representatives in dealing with the vicissitudes of Atlantic Yards,” State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon told the Brooklyn Eagle following a Monday press conference.

Empire State Development Corp., which oversees the development of the 22-acre Prospect Heights mega-site, has recommended that advisory group Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp. approve the planned 105,000-square-foot athletic facility. It would be constructed in the basements of as-yet unbuilt apartment towers at two Dean Street sites (B12 and B13).

Atlantic Yards Community Development Corp.’s vote is scheduled for Monday. The group is a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corp.

Simon, State Assemblymember Walter Mosley and civic leaders also demanded that the governor compel Pacific Park’s developers to explain to the public what measures they will take to complete the construction of 2,250 affordable apartments by 2025.

State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon calls on the governor to put field house and gym construction on hold. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (at the podium) calls on the governor to put field house and gym construction on hold. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

That deadline is mandated by a settlement that advocacy coalition BrooklynSpeaks negotiated with the state of New York and Pacific Park’s then-developer Forest City Ratner in 2014.

At this point, 780 affordable apartments have been built at the mega-development.

Simon told the Eagle there are “some fundamental flaws with this project” that elected officials and community leaders would like to change — including the income tiers for its affordable housing, “which were never affordable” to local residents.

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Doing so would entail “a major change” to the project’s Modified General Project Plan, she said.

“We are on our fourth governor since this project started,” Simon told the Eagle wearily. “A lot needs to change to make this project viable.”

During the press conference, which took place on a sidewalk at Pacific Park, Simon said if developer TF Cornerstone does receive development rights to construct the field house and gym, the builder should be obligated to deliver additional community benefits to local residents.

“Everything that is an alleged public benefit never really comes to fruition” at the project site, Simon said.

State Assemblymember Walter Mosley doubts that Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park’s developers can construct 2,250 affordable apartments by 2025. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
State Assemblymember Walter Mosley (at the microphone) doubts that Pacific Park’s developers can construct 2,250 affordable apartments by 2025. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

During the press conference, Mosley questioned how the developers can complete the mandated construction of 2,250 affordable-housing units just six years from now.

“It’s appalling we are here in 2019 still asking for the simplest public benefits,” he said.

“We don’t have a good-faith feeling” that the affordable housing will get built on time, he added.

Cuomo’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jack Sterne, Empire State Development’s downstate press secretary, told the Eagle, “There is universal agreement that Brooklyn critically needs affordable housing, and any delay will ultimately hurt the residents who stand to benefit from these units.”

He said Empire State Development expects the construction of hundreds of new affordable units to be completed this year. 

“The project developer made a legally-binding commitment to deliver 2,250 units of affordable housing by 2025 — and we will hold them and all of their partners to that deadline,” Sterne said.

This story has been updated to include a comment from Empire State Development Corp.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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  1. I’ll take a gym

    This local would love to see a gym in the Pacific Park development. And this local cannot understand the conflicting demands of (1) limited construction hours and additional environmental reviews (pro tip: its an empty lot with a lot of rubble next to some train tracks on a pretty busy street with a lot of litter that the locals who “love” the area can’t be bothered to pick up) and (2) build us as many affordable apartments as soon as possible. Maybe miracles will happen and we can all be transported back to some sepia colored 1950s Brooklyn and meet for a game of stick ball on the corner. But I’m sure if that happened people would be calling 311 because of the noise.