Park Committee OKs Consideration of Nine Housing Alternatives

The Committee on Alternatives to Housing of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation met this evening at City Hall to consider which of twelve proposed alternative sources of funding Bay Area Economics(“BAE”), the consultant hired to evaluate such proposals, would be authorized to consider whether to include in its report to the Park’s board of directors. Of the twelve proposals, the Committee voted to authorize BAE to evaluate nine of them. The nine approved are: (1) advertising and sponsorship; (2) creation of a Business Improvement District (“BID”) or Park Improvement District (“PID”); (3) non-residential commercial real estate development; (4) concessions of all types, including food and fine dining; (5) event facilities; (6) fee-based recreational facilities; (7) fund raising and philanthropy; (8) increased parking revenues; and (9) revenues from buildings presently owned and used by Watchtower but to be sold.

The three not approved are: (1) direct City funding (this was objected to by Seth Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and a mayoral appointee to the Park’s board, as being outside the scope of the Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) governing the search for alternative revenue sources in that it requires diversion of City funds otherwise available for general revenue purposes); (2) reduction of the Park’s operating budget (objected to by Pinsky because it is not a “revenue source” as required by the MOU); and (3) use of a portion of real estate tax revenue generated as a result of the Park’s construction because of rezoning of adjacent or nearby areas, as proposed by State Sen. Daniel Squadron (objected to by Pinsky for the same reason as his objection to direct City funding). The Committee was unanimous in voting not to allow BAE to consider direct City funding or reduction in the Park’s budget, but the proposal concerning use of an increment of real estate tax revenue was supported by John Raskin and Paul Nelson, chiefs of staff for Sen. Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman, respectively. However, they were outvoted by the three mayoral appointees.

The proposals sent to BAE by the Committee are not mutually exclusive, and could be used in combination. Some of these proposals–commercial real estate development, concessions, event facilities, fee-based recreational facilities, and increased parking–could, especially if more than one is approved, result in a greater amount of the Park’s footprint being used for revenue generation than would be used by the proposed housing. A BID would have to be approved by merchants in the affected area, and a PID could result in assessments on residential as well as commercial properties, and could also be subject to approval by those affected. A similar proposal for the High Line park in Manhattan was rejected because of local opposition.

BAE is to present a draft of its report by mid February, after which there will be a sixty day period in which comments from the public will be received, as well as another public meeting. At the close of this evening’s meeting, Mr. Nelson noted that there had been complaints about the short notice given to the public. He said that the decision to invite the public had been made “at the last minute”, and that he regretted the lack of earlier notice.

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  • bkre

    Everyone can have their own opinions. Unfortunately for you though, we all have to share the same facts. If you say that you don’t trust the park officials that’s your right. but you mjust acknowledge that you have no basis for this. All you have is a series of accusations that are filled with half truths. If all you said was, “i have no factual basis to back this up, but i don’t trust those guys” then I would leave you alone. But you continue to try to imply that there are factual reasons for your mistrust, and that’s just crap.

    The river cafe is a perfect example.Here are the facts: The river cafe signed a lease in the 70’s for their space. At the time there was no value to the property since it was a fairly abandoned industrial area. Therefore they got a pretty cheap rental rate. Over time the location has become very attractive, but that lease doesn’t run out for another 10 years. Therefore they now have a very cheap rent for a great location. Nothing you or I can do about it – they took a risk and hit the jackpot. It would be completely illegal to raise the rent on an existing lease that has not expired yet. It would be great and appropriate for the city to assign that rent to the park, but that’s up to the city not up to the park. Even if they did assign the rent it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference regarding the housing, since as you yourself have said, the pay less than $100K a year. That would replace what- may 4 housing units?
    So those are the facts. Then someone like you and Judi come along and distort those facts to say that “the concessions are not putting any money back into the park”. This completely ignores two very important facts. #1) The river cafe is not a park concession. It’s a commercial lease for a restaurant the pre-dates the very existence of the park. #2) The park has 4 actual concessions on Pier 1, and all of those concession pay rent to the park – according to some account more than $200k a year!

    SO now do you see what I’m saying? If you kept to opinions, I would let you say whatever you wanted. But when you try to pass off lies as facts, I will call you out. Or maybe you can explain to me how your statement about the park concessions is just an “opinion”.

  • bklyn20

    The RIver Cafe applied for a cabaret license earlier this year. Why didn’t the BBP Dev Corp use this opportunity to re-negotiate the terms of their lease? The land it is on is now within the park space, I do believe.

    The cabaret license was on the agenda at a February 2010 CB2 meeting. Presumably that is sufficiently verifiable information for you?

    Please read:

    Community Board 2’s Health, Environment and Social Services

    > committee is hearing a liquor license application for the RIver

    > Cafe’s new cabaret license this Thursday at 6:30 PM at Brooklyn

    > Hospital in the North Pavillion, Conference Room 1A and 1B.

    Remember, Fulton Ferry Park pre-existed BBP — yet that didn’t stop it from being put into the BBP space and for its magnificent old trees to be cut down for the Walentas Carousel.

    Who are the “some” who have estimate the concession revenue for you? Are you trying to pass off their, or your, opinions as fact?

    I do have a basis for my opinions: the issues I have brought up in my many posts on this and other blogs, based on over a decade of parks advocacy for this and other parks. Go ahead, insult me again. You continue to refexively defend the park. I disagree with you.

    Perhaps you would next prefer to discuss the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

  • bkre

    Again you are misrepresenting facts. Getting a cabaret license is a discretionary action on behalf of the community board. It may be convenient for you to lump all governmental entities together, but if the community board wanted to approve their cabaret license, there is nothing the park officials could do about it. You clearly don’t understand how the process of getting a cabaret license works. It is actually no leverage for renegotiating the lease at all. When I don’t know anything about a topic, i keep my mouth closed. You should either learn more about the topic or keep your trap shut.

    Acquiring the Empire Fulton Ferry Park did not involve renegotiating an existing deal. For over a decade it has been contemplated that once BBP became an operating entity, it would take over Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Now that they are operating Pier 1 and Pier 6, they took it over. And you also really have to stop misrepresenting the trees in that park two. There were two beautiful trees in that park and the rest were tiny little runts – hardly magnificent. The two beautiful trees were going to be maintained (until one of them blew over in those crazy tornadoes we had in November), while the other trees are going to be replaced by more than twice as many new trees. The old trees had to be gotten rid of because they are raising the grade of the park to take it out of the flood plain and improve the drainage. It may be your opinion that you’d rather save those tiny trees than to make the significant improvements that I just mentioned before, but you clearly have no understanding about trees, landscaping, or maintaining parks. Yes I know you have been a “park advocate” for years, but there’s a difference between siting on your but typing comments into a blog “advocating” for something and actually being trained in a very technical field. As someone who has used Empire Fulton Ferry and has experienced first hand how bad the drainage in there was (it was a mud pit for days after it would rain), I can’t imagine that anyone who wasn’t just looking to criticize EVERYTHING the BBP folks do could have a problem with that.

    I have no desire to debate anything with you. My only goal is to stop you from spreading your lies. So everytime you lie or twist the facts to misrepresent the truth, I will be posting right behind you to make sure that readers of this blog can see through your “spin”. You can’t just post false things and expect to get away with it.

  • bkre

    Oh and the “some” who I mentioned in my previous post was the head of the BBP conservancy at the meeting at st francis. I had already mentioned it in a previous post, so I didn’t want to repeat myself.

  • nabeguy

    Please, please, please bkre, for all our sakes, don’t repeat yourself. While you’ve done an exceptional job of discrediting the arguments of bklyn20, you’ve done nothing to convince me that that your position is the most sensible one, especially given my suspicion that bkre stands for Brooklyn real estate.

  • bkre

    I’m ok with you not agreeing with me nabeguy – as long as I have successfully convinced you that bklyn20’s arguments are full of crap.
    by the way bkre does stand for brooklyn real estate -since that’s what i’m interested in. Not sure why that discredits me any more than a login of “nabeguy”. Disagree with me because you have reason to believe I’m wrong, not because of my login…

    Look I truly believe that there are real issues to discuss regarding BBP. The decision that this park must be financially self supporting is a rather unique idea and I totally get that there are people who will have a problem with that. I happen to think it’s an innovative response to the current budgetary environment. But you may not.

    bklyn20 just bugs me because, rather than have the actual interesting discussion, he/she just goes around insulting people’s integrity and spreading falshoods. Sorry if i have been repetitive, but that’s only because bklyn20 keeps trying to do the same thing over and over.

  • Bob Stone

    Gee, Brooklyn Real Estate, on re-re-re-reading your screed, it would seem that you won on the insulting people’s integrity count. But, my guess is that you’re not done yet, right?

    Bob Stone

  • bklyn20

    Sorry that you find my arguments discredited, nabeguy, but thanks for not joining the insult parade. If we disagree on the park, that’s our mutual privilege. Thanks to Bob as well.

    Yes, I have insulted the integtity of the park process many times. That’s it. Early Happy New Year!

  • bkre

    Whatever – the difference is that before i call bklyn20 a liar, i first prove that he/she lied.

    Bklyn20 calls people liars, offers no factual proof, and then, even worse, twists the truth to make it seem like there may proof.

    It’s not about the number of insults, it’s about the nature of them.