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Forest City Ratner renames its Brooklyn mega-development

Green land! Atlantic Yards rechristened ‘Pacific Park’

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Atlantic Yards, meet Pacific Park.

The developers of the 16-tower mega-development at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues have changed its name to “Pacific Park,” Forest City Ratner announced to the real estate website Curbed on Monday. The name change shifts the project’s marketing focus from the Long Island Rail Road train yard along Atlantic Avenue, over which part of it is supposed to be built, to the park it is supposed to contain along a de-mapped block of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues.

The news came packaged with new details about two of the buildings that make up the development, which is being built by the Chinese-government-owned developer Greenland, a majority partner in the project along with Forest City. Construction is scheduled to begin in December on an 18-story tower at 535 Carlton Ave. between Dean and Pacific streets, which will house 298 apartments, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, Forest City said. Shortly after that, construction will begin on the building at 550 Vanderbilt Ave. between Dean and Pacific streets. That building is slated to reach 17 stories and contain 275 units, from studios to four bedrooms, according to the developer, which finalized the sale of 70 percent of the project to Greenland on July 1. Beginning in June 2015, a third building will rise at 30 Sixth Ave. between Pacific and Dean Streets, totaling about 300 units, Forest City said.

The three towers are slated to be entirely made up of below-market-rate apartments. The arrangement is an effort by the development firms to honor the deal they struck in late June with activists that requires the creation 2,250 units of promised discount digs by 2025. The developers have until 2035 to complete the entire 6,430-apartment project, though Forest City originally pledged to be done in 2016. It has blamed activist lawsuits for the delays. The litigants dropped their suits in June as part of the deal to prod along construction.

An architect for the Carlton Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue buildings said his firm took pains to make the skyscrapers fit in with the surrounding townhouses.

“Our approach to this has been ‘How are these buildings going to feel from the street?’ ” said Brandon Specketer, a senior associate at Cookfox Architects, which is designing two of the three structures. “The idea that this is a building on and of Carlton Avenue is very important.”

One neighbor who has been an ardent critic of Forest City for years said he was glad to see the new renderings’ buildings, which, tall though they are, are colored with the browns and blacks typical to Brownstone Brooklyn, and which sport terraces with gardens.

“I think what the renderings represent show an improvement,” said Gib Veconi, a member of the activist coalition BrooklynSpeaks and a signatory to the June deal. “It’s a lot more attractive than what they originally released.”

A representative of Forest City Ratner and Greenland declined to comment on the motive behind changing the name of the project that has been mired in controversy and dogged by lawsuits since shortly after its inception 11 years ago.

And even with the new moniker, it may be tough to shake the Atlantic Yards name.

Blogger Norman Oder, whose Atlantic Yards Report has closely chronicled the mega-development since 2005, when for a brief period his website was called the Times Ratner Report, wrote that he doesn’t plan to change the site’s current name to match the development, but allowed that he might “tweak it at some later point.”

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019: Updated to reflect a morning blog post from Norman Oder, who declined to say whether he planned to change the name of Atlantic Yards Report but addressed the question in the post.
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