Boxing Days: Ratner takes month-long holiday from Yards construction

Box fort: Atlantic Yards tower gets first building blocks
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Mega-developer Forest City Ratner has taken this whole winter holiday thing extra-seriously by stopping the installation of modular apartment units at the only Atlantic Yards building currently being built — immediately after the work started.

Two weeks have passed since the developer began the second phase of construction on the modular B2 skyscraper to great fanfare, but only three of the building blocks have been hoisted into the tower’s steel frame, despite claims that the operation would be around-the-clock, with eight apartment modules being plunked into place every day, the Ratner critic website Atlantic Yards Report first reported. Other longtime opponents of the project say they told us so.

“The delay in delivery and installation of B2 housing modules is just the latest in an unending string of broken Atlantic Yards promises,” said Eric McClure, founder of Park Slope Neighbors, pointing out that the developer scrapped its 2016 project deadline years ago and has yet to commit to another one. “Forest City said the project would be built in 10 years, with no intention of actually doing that, and this is more of the same.”

B2 is supposed to rise to 32 stories at the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, but the media event that showcased the installation of the second block on Dec. 12 was never supposed to signal the beginning of a new period of construction, claimed Ratner spokesman Michael Rapfogel on Thursday, saying that the plan was always to start slotting the apartment pieces in mid-January. But Rapfogel’s explanation flies in the face of what his colleague, head of construction Robert Sanna, told us at the inaugural block drop-in.

“We’ll be erecting the mods now through the summer, when we’ll go into the period of on-site work,” Sanna said back then.

Another Atlantic Yards foe says he is worried about the noise of constant truck traffic when the units finally do start arriving.

“Forest City Ratner Company has made a huge gamble on modular without ever bothering to consider how it might impact their project’s neighbors, who now may end up bearing the brunt of its omission,” said Gib Veconi, member of the activist group BrooklynSpeaks, which sued Forest City in 2009.

The developer has stressed that the prefabricated building method requires fewer deliveries than conventional construction.

B2 is supposed to boast 363 rental apartments, half of them renting for below-market-rate, and is the first of 15 planned towers in the development. The Chinese-government-owned developer Greenland finalized an agreement to buy a 70-percent stake in Atlantic Yards – not including the Barclays Center or B2 – for about $200-million last week. The companies expect to seal the deal in 2014, but need the sign-off of the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Boxed out: This Dec. 12 photo shows about how the construction site looks now.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini