A new station where Flatbush meets Atlantic in downtown Brooklyn will connect subway travelers on nine lines to the Barclays Center.

Opening this Monday at 8 a.m., subway travelers on nine lines will be able to walk up the stairs of a new station where Flatbush meets Atlantic in downtown Brooklyn and see the rusted metal oculus of Barclays Center spread before them like a moment in a science-fiction film. It’s as grand as Lincoln Center, as Brooklyn as the Boys of Summer, and as New York as a skyscraper.


It cost $76 million. No, it’s not paved in gold. But not a cent of it came from taxpayers’ pockets. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the developer of the arena, the housing around it, MetroTech and Atlantic Center Mall, agreed to pay for the station as part of financing in return for the air rights from the MTA above the arena’s plaza, where one day a world-class commercial building could stand.

Originally budgeted at $29 million, the commitment by FCRC extended beyond financial obligations.

“In comparison to building the subway station, the arena was a piece of cake,” says Robert Sanna, FCRC’s long-term head of construction, who built the skyscraper New York by Gehry and the company’s other major New York City projects. “The hole we had to build for this station is 35 feet deep, 100 feet wide on one side and 125 feet wide on the other. Imagine a giant piece of pizza jammed into the ground. We made 138 repairs to existing tunnel members down there and all kinds of old wiring and concrete. It took us two years to do this. It was the single most complex job I have ever worked on.”
At its heart is convenience.

“Mass transit is the centerpiece of the entire development,” says MaryAnne Gilmartin, FCRC’s executive vice president of development. “We committed to infrastructure improvements as part of the real estate deal. The new entrance is the key component to making this arena work. Under no circumstances do we want anyone driving to the arena, ever.”
That includes you Jay-Z, Deron Williams, and Ms. Streisand.

At least, you’ll have choices. In addition to nine subway lines, 11 bus lines and the Long Island Rail Road stop at the arena. Travel time from Wall Street (2, 3, 4 or 5) is 10 minutes. From Penn Station (2, 3, C) and Grand Central (4, 5) it’s 22 minutes, and Coney Island (D, N, Q) is 30 minutes. It’s a 20-minute ride on the LIRR from Jamaica.
When empty, the new subway station feels like a movie set. Think “Planet of the Apes.” It’s clean, signs are everywhere, and stone used from a previous subway at this location that closed in the 1960s is part of the design.

The station is 4,700 square feet, with a grand stairwell (leading to the arena plaza) that’s 26 feet wide. There are two escalators, one elevator and 14 turnstiles. More than 350 new signs point to locations inside and outside the station, which incorporates over 1,500 tons of structural and reinforcement steel. Fifty-four foundation pylons stretch an additional 40 feet down into the ground.

The weathered metal of the station matches that of Barclays Center. An eco-friendly sedum grass roof ramps up toward the arena. The green roof concept was designed by lower-Manhattan-based SHoP, the same group that designed Barclays Center, while the rest of the station was designed by Midtown firm Stantec. The width of the ascent to the plaza is meant to handle tens of thousands per event, and hammer home the arrival.

“We want this to be magical,” says Gilmartin, who has been with FCRC since 1994 and handles its key negotiations and development execution. “The canopy, oculus, all of this is part of what will define Brooklyn for the next century. The amount of collaboration between city agencies that had to come together just for this one station is mind-boggling.”
From the MTA’s perspective, the station marks the kind of public and private dealmaking that attempts to place the city and its people first.

“There is a real disconnect in this country between real estate and mass transit,” says Joseph J. Lhota, chairman and CEO of the MTA. “In Asia, the mass transit companies are real estate companies. They build mass transit around big developments in order to enhance the value in the area. I give Ratner credit. This is part of a 30-year vision for downtown Brooklyn — MetroTech, Atlantic Yards and now Barclays. The job growth in downtown Brooklyn leads the entire city. How long are people going to criticize this project before they realize this is good for New York City?”

At FCRC, it’s about accomplishment, pride and relief. Gilmartin and Sanna worked tirelessly with underground specialty contractor John Civetta & Sons to finish the station on time, which meant for the Jay-Z concert Sept. 28. If the station wasn’t complete, the arena opening would have been delayed.

“We were okay spending $76 million because we had no idea what we would find down there,” says Gilmartin. “But walking into Bruce Ratner’s office and telling him the arena can’t open because the subway station wasn’t done, well, that was something none of us ever considered doing.”
Fortunately, they don’t have to.

what: A $76 million subway station at Barclays Arena, paid for in total by developer Forest City Ratner Companies in exchange for buying air rights on the plaza.

You Should Know
Why: It’s 55 steps from the subway entrance to the arena’s front door. According to the MTA and Forest City, who did car, train and bike studies, there is no reason to drive to Barclays Center, ever.

Where: At the triangle corner where Flatbush meets Atlantic Ave. in downtown Brooklyn.
How much: One of the cheapest thrills in town, $2.25 gets you from almost anywhere in the city to this or any location.