The Atlantic Yards Saga, Chapter 2

The Barclays Arena was only Chapter 1. Developer Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) is now turning another page on the $4.9 billion, 22-acre Atlantic Yards project. SHoP architects all have set their sights on the next phase of construction: a 32-story tower that will be the first of 14 planned residential buildings in the area.

Three of these buildings will form a cocoon around the Barclays Center to the south and east. From the ground level, their entrances will blend in seamlessly with the glass storefronts lining the street. From a more distant vantage point, they will transform the Brooklyn skyline.

The first to go up is known as B2. If all goes as planned, B2 is slated to become the tallest modular construction project in the world, with units constructed nearby at Brooklyn Navy Yards and transported to the project site. FCRC had to strike a deal with union workers before cementing the decision to use modular construction. Employees were concerned it would save FCRC funds while cutting union jobs and reducing wages on the project. Negotiations on the topic remained inconclusive until early October when The Architects Newspaper featured a story on the modular construction process.

The final product of the B2 project will be comprised of 350 rental apartments with breathtaking views of New York City’s largest borough. Half of these units will be for low and moderate-income families, making a modest dent in the 6,430 affordable and market-rate residential units Ratner promised to make available upon the Atlantic Yards project’s completion. The remaining units will be made into luxury condos.

The Atlantic Yards Project once promised to create 17,000 union construction jobs and over 8,000 union jobs. These promises provided major incentive for the state and city to sign onto the project with $300 million in subsidies while it was still in the planning phase. Failure to deliver on these promises has sparked a swell of activism from Brooklyn residents.

“While I completely understand that there is some level of excitement about the arena, it doesn’t justify the process by which we came to this day,” Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn told The Indypendent late last month. “—the ongoing broken promises and the failures to deliver the promised and critically needed affordable housing and living-wage jobs.”

These community spokespersons have a long road ahead of them as construction on the Atlantic Yards site is predicted to continue into 2035. Architects and developers will celebrate with a groundbreaking ceremony for the B2 tower on December 18th. That giant ribbon you saw Bruce Ratner cutting in front of the Barclays arena a few weeks ago? There are dozens more where it came from.


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