Ratner finally moves ahead with residential Yards tower

Ratner finally moves ahead with residential Yards tower
Photo by Bess Adler

Developer Bruce Ratner moved forward this week with the construction of the first of his long-stalled residential buildings in the Atlantic Yards mega-project, filing city paperwork to begin a 33-story building adjacent to the Barclays Center.

The 368-unit building — which may be either a conventional tower or a controversial pre-fabricated structure — would rise on Dean Street just east of Flatbush Avenue, next door to the under-construction, 19,000-seat Barclays Center.

Ratner’s Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin said that construction could start this winter after a “year-end ground-breaking.”

Designs for the building are being finalized, but Gilmartin confirmed that Ratner’s team is “still designing both prefab and conventional alternatives” — with a final design decision expected by the end of the year.

Ratner floated possibility of constructing a pre-fab building earlier this year — a balloon that was immediately shot down by the developer’s union allies.

“Clearly, prefab housing is not what we expected,” said Richard Weiss, a spokesman for Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79. “The only reason we [supported the project] was for jobs for our members.”

Weiss said a pre-fab building could costs hundreds of construction jobs — positions that Ratner promised during the controversial approval process for the $5-billion project, which has been stalled by the weak economy.

The Barclays Center is the highest-profile piece of Atlantic Yards, but commencement of the first residential building would represent a major step forward for the larger project, which occupies a 22-acre footprint stretching from Flatbush to Vanderbilt avenues.

Ratner had said as recently as last year that he would not move forward on residential construction at Atlantic Yards until the national economy improved.

But the latest move to obtain city building permits would get the developer closer to fulfilling his promise to create 2,250 units of affordable housing and public open space at the sprawling superblock site. Half of the first tower’s nearly 400 units would be set aside at below-market rents.

But that promise is a glass that’s half full to opponents.

“It might be a milestone for Ratner,” said Daniel Goldstein, who sued the builder before being evicted from his home inside of the project footprint. “But it’s a long, long way from what they promised.”

The filing of building permits was first reported by Brownstoner.com, a website.