Back when Frank Gehry got bounced off Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project, the new designs for the Nets’ arena, created by Ellerbe Beckett, were said to be so loathed by certain city officials that the developer had to find another firm to dress things up. Ratner chose local hotshots SHoP, which had made its name designing hip, slightly cerebral housing, like the Porterhouse in the Meatpacking District, and the new designs for the East River Esplanade and South Street Seaport.
Back in September, when Ratner and SHoP principal Gregg Pasquarelli unveiled new designs for the public plaza at the foot of the Barclays Center arena, the architect said he would love to design some of the project’s buildings, though his primary concern was executing the masterplan. “SHoP’s goal is to make sure it’s a beautiful and cohesive whole,” he said at the time.
Well, it looks like Pasquarelli will be getting his wish after all, as The Observer has learned the firm has been tapped to design B2, the first apartment building planned for the site, along Dean Street on the southeast corner of the arena.
At that September announcement, Ratner said he planned to have at least one rental building in the ground this year, and possibly two. Yesterday, at a Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable, Forest City Ratner executive vice president MaryAnne Gilmartin reaffirmed this commitment, if somewhat cautiously, according to The Real Deal:
Gilmartin emphasized the affordable housing elements of Forest City Ratner’s master plan for the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site, calling it “one of the more ambitious” affordable housing initiatives the city has seen. The project is slated to eventually have more than 6,400 units of affordable, middle-income and market-rate housing.
The first residential building on the site will be a 50-30-20 project, she said, meaning 20 percent of the apartments will be reserved for low-income tenants, 30 percent for middle-income tenants and the rest for market-rate renters. She said Forest City Ratner hopes to begin construction this year.
Ratner had been more emphatic about apartments being built this year, though an official groundbreaking has still not been set.
This is in part because the project is still in the hunt for financing. Somewhat controversial efforts to find it in China have been going well, And it appears that SHoP’s selection, and the design work the firm will undertake, should further help Forest City Ratner secure funding for the project. Development projects in the city and beyond have all struggled with financing since the real estate bubble collapsed. This despite the fact that Forest City Ratner’s nearby 80 DKLB is now 97 percent leased, as are many other rental buildings in Downtown Brooklyn.
Whenever and whatever gets built, this is yet another big project for the budding SHoP. Yesterday, the city announced the developer of the first phase of Hunter’s Point South, and SHoP will be designing the two apartment towers and a school along with Ishmael Leyva. And the firm continues to work on plans for a large mixed-use housing complex at the South Street Seaport for banker-developer Bill Ackman.