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Local leaders demand Cuomo shut down massive gym development at Pacific Park

State officials rubber stamped Pacific Park developer TF Cornerstone's request to build a sprawling fitness facility in place of a parking garage on Aug. 15.
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Activists and local leaders are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put the kibosh on a massive underground athletic facility in Prospect Heights — claiming state officials rubber stamped the new development without giving a second thought to the public good.

“We’re giving benefits to developers without proper public comments and review — at the expense of taxpayers,” said Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D–Prospect Heights). “This is only going to benefit the developers. This is only going to benefit those who wish to sell us out.”

The proposed facility — a 105,000-square-foot fitness center and field house — would be located primarily underground on Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues, and included as part of the Pacific Park mega development project, which was formerly known as Atlantic Yards.

The space had been originally slated for use as vehicle parking until developer TF Cornerstone decided to scrap the garage and build a sprawling fitness facility instead.

The Empire State Development Corporation, which is responsible for overseeing the Pacific Park development, gave the new recreational facility their stamp of approval on Aug. 15 — ensuring the plan will go ahead unless Cuomo intervenes.

The plan has angered activists and local leaders, who argue that the state is providing a massive windfall to developers without extracting any concessions in the form of additional affordable housing, or addressing environmental concerns.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) raised concerns that the developers are already lagging behind on their prior commitment to build 2,250 “affordable” apartments by 2025, and demanded they present a concrete plan to meet their obligations — before the state hands over additional building rights.

“The community fought long and hard to ensure that the development of Atlantic Yards would include a significant commitment to affordable housing, but we have yet to see a real plan to meet the commitment,” he said. “Now, the developers are asking for more commercial development without making any additional promises to provide public benefits or to follow through on their existing commitments.”

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Prospect Heights) basted the state for failing to conduct a full environmental impact study for the proposed facility.

“We don’t know what kind of impact it will have, because it’s never been studied,” she said. “We’re being asked to make decisions with no information.”

Jack Sterne, a spokesman with the Empire State Development Corporation, said the concerns were overblown, arguing that the proposed fitness facility — equal in size to roughly two football fields — constituted a “minor modification” the original plan for the building’s basement, and was not significant enough to warrant a new, full-scale review.

Sterne also shrugged off the affordable housing concerns, arguing that the state had previously secured concrete commitments to ensure the housing requirements would be met.

“Pacific Park has already delivered over 750 affordable apartments, and we expect hundreds more to be completed this year,” he said. “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.”

Gov. Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Updated 1:23 pm, August 23, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Local from Here says:
I see “the coalition” is alive and well and still attempting to shakedown anyone trying to improve the neighborhood. Just say no to these thieves masquerading as activists.
Aug. 23, 11:52 am
Bobby Sue says:
If the activists were concerned about the ‘public good’ then they should protest the slap on the wrists that criminals get and the decriminalizing of just about everything
Aug. 23, 12:17 pm
Abe from South brooklyn says:
Not improving —— just making the area more and more unaffordable for the people who grew up here in brooklyn. Income inequality and gentrification.
Aug. 23, 1:49 pm
Disappointed from Crown Hgts North says:
SEQRA is quite clear that an EIS is required for a Type I or an Unlisted action, i.e. a significant change of this nature. SEQRA 617.7(c)(ix) says an example of a significant change is "the encouraging or attracting of a large number of people to a place or places for more than a few days, compared to the number of people who would come to such place absent the action..." In exchange for this green light from the State, the developer should be offering a public benefit, e.g., contributing 50% of the income stream from this new use to the costs of the City's Homeless Shelter system. Here, the number of potential users changed every few days & the analysis was not shared with the public in a meaningful way.
Aug. 23, 1:55 pm
Doctor Van Nostrand from Nostrand Ave. says:
Let’s just use the space for another Popeyes, 99 cent store, barber shop, beauty supply store, check cashing, liquor store, dumpy bodega.......
Aug. 23, 2:41 pm
bkprospectpark man from nubrucklyn says:
The real estate people must always be scrutinized
Aug. 23, 6:04 pm
Norman Oder says:
Re "The space had been originally slated for use as vehicle parking until developer TF Cornerstone decided to scrap the garage and build a sprawling fitness facility instead." It's a little more complicated than that. They already reduced parking significantly on that block--slated to contain 4 towers--in 2014. After that, there was supposed to be parking under all 4 towers on that block. However, one tower, 550 Vanderbilt, was built without parking. Now the state has approved 200 fewer parking spaces on the block. That suggests that they're merely ratifying the previous decision, rather than cutting parking to accommodate the Chelsea Piers fitness center and field house. More here: https://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2019/08/is-proposed-below-ground-recreational.html
Aug. 23, 7:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
This is what you all get for originally being behind this project when you had the chance to stop when it was just a blueprint.
Aug. 24, 2:58 pm
Frank from Furter says:
I was against it. And tried to stop it. It was greased by the governor with the mayors acquiescence. no one was going to stop it least of all you Tal.
Aug. 24, 5:07 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Frank, I know that Ranter got his way all because he had friends in high places. When this exists, you never have to worry about the laws, because they will help you get around or even sidestep them. I will always see the place as a product of both eminent domain abuse and corporate welfare. However, I will get the last laugh at all of those who really thought by supporting this, they something good out of it only to be cheated in the end, and that's just the paid supporters I'm talking about. In reality, they were just used to help him push it forward only to be double crossed in the end. All I can say to them is this, "Don't look at me, I was against this idea, plus you had your chances to stop it, but didn't." For the record, the opposition was never against having development on the rail yards. If the opposition such as Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn did win, then they would have gotten a more sensible development on the Vanderbuilt Yards, which would have been the UNITY Plan that would be done to inclusive to the area rather than exclusive. Unfortunately, hard core supporters will always tend to deny that and had always constantly vilified anyone who opposed it while being a yes man to the project.
Aug. 25, 6:30 am
Frank from Furter says:
You wouldn't have won either. They won admit it and move on. You cant rewrite history.
Aug. 25, 8:43 am
Rasputin Bogdanovich says:
How about making it a hip-hop night club? I’m sure that would be a respectable option for that area
Aug. 25, 5:48 pm
Matt from Prospect Heights says:
So wait, a gym that will have thousands of members is only for rich people, but a private garage that's going to charge $400/month and only benefit a fit a few hundred cars is a community amenity? Do I have that right?
Aug. 26, 12:18 pm
Crawdad from Park Slope says:
Now the NIMBYs are against fitness centers, and are apparently pro-car pollution. Seriously, get a life, shakedown artists!
Aug. 27, 1:53 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I heard that the original supporters of the project all got shirts that read this, "I believed everything Bruce Ratner said about the Atlantic Yards, and I all I got was this lousy shirt."
Aug. 27, 2:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
My parents are brother and sister.
Aug. 27, 9:22 pm

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