Greenland, MTA reach deal for Atlantic Yards deck, but 421a problem remains

Platform construction will allow for three residential towers

Atlantic Yards Deck Deal Paves Way for Pacific Park Towers
Greenland USA's Hu Gang, MTA's Janno Lieber with 700 Atlantic Avenue (Greenland USA, MTA, Google Maps)

After years of delays, developer Greenland USA can start building over Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

When it will do so is anyone’s guess, but the developer has reached a handshake deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about how to construct the first phase of a platform over the tracks.

Officials confirmed the agreement at a meeting this week. Details were not made public but involved protecting Long Island Rail Road operations and equipment during deck work.

The developer said construction of the first section of the platform, on which three residential towers will be built, would take 36 to 40 months. Greenland officials were hesitant to say when it would begin.

“Like all developers, we’re trying to work out the landscape of no tax abatements,” Greenland’s Joshua Cohen said at a public meeting, referring to the expired property-tax break 421a. “We’re working through exactly the timing schedule of how we build and what we build.”

Previous start dates for Pacific Park have come and gone, and the developer has maintained that it needs 421a or something like it to fulfill its affordable housing obligations — which were crucial to getting political approval for the project in the 2000s.

The first platform will cover the LIRR tracks bordered by Atlantic, Carlton and Sixth avenues and Pacific Street.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

It is part of the 22-acre Pacific Park development, which began in 2003 as a Forest City Ratner project called Atlantic Yards. The second phase of the platform, between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, will provide a base for three more towers.

In an interview, Empire State Development’s Arden Sokolow said the agency is considering its options in the event that 421a is not restored. The choices include using payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs, for the first phase of the platform.

The state is making a similar arrangement for certain development sites in Gowanus where the tax break is beyond developers’ grasp.

One of the planned towers, a 682-unit residential building known as B5, could qualify for the tax break, given its foundation was laid before the June 15, 2022, deadline. But it would still need to be completed by June 15, 2026, to ultimately qualify for 421a. The 35-year abatement is the difference between projects penciling out and being impossible to finance.

The blog Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report has previously reported on how the lack of 421a could affect the remaining towers at Pacific Park. It has posited that the state will likely renegotiate its agreement with Greenland.

The agreement requires Greenland to deliver 2,250 below-market rate apartments by May 2025. Greenland is still 876 short. Under the state agreement, failing to meet that deadline would mean the developer must pay a $2,000-a-month penalty for each unbuilt unit.

When asked if the state is considering extending the deadline, Sokolow said that the deadline still stands, and the state “continues to retain all of its rights set forth in the agreement.”

Read more