The Brooklyn Heights Association’s involvement in a lawsuit over the re-designation of the Tobacco Warehouse, seems to have the folks at the Brooklyn Eagle in a tizzy. Dare we say that they’re taking sides?
Yes we will.
Earlier this week it amped up prominent resident Bo Rodgers’ letter to the Heights Press opposing the lawsuit to Sermon on the Mount status. Sounding like Johnny Mathis meets Robert Moses, Rodgers opines that the plan for St. Ann’s Warehouse to take over the TW is a “wonderful, wonderful use of that space.”
Meanwhile, Columnist Denis Holt attacks the essence of the lawsuit:
The BHA and others should note that the process for determining a new use for the warehouse — a cultural and community center — was very much a public process. And it should be remembered that there are even more public reviews before a lease can be granted to St. Ann’s Warehouse sometime this summer.
While Eagle columnist Henrik Krogius uses an otherwise thought-provoking and informative piece on preservation vs. innovation to sideswipe the BHA’s TW lawsuit:
The current furor over the lawsuits to block planned re-use of the Tobacco Warehouse, growing out of more than two decades of often-frustrated efforts by the BHA to control what happens in DUMBO, reflects the ill will the BHA can provoke in trying to push its influence beyond the Heights borders. However, the main focus of this commentary is on the approach taken toward development within the Heights itself.
After the landmarking of 1965 set in, the BHA was initially open to contemporary design solutions for what might yet be built within the district’s essentially built-up acreage, notably in its encouragement to Jehovah’s Witnesses to employ a modern architect for a new library and dormitory on the southeast corner of Columbia Heights and Pineapple Street. That striking example, by Ulrich Franzen, has not been matched in design interest by much else, other than the three “in-fill” houses of 1965-65 by Joseph and Mary Merz on Willow Place. The relatively few opportunities for new buildings within the Historic District in the past two decades have resulted at best in bland compromises between older forms and the possibilities offered by glass and steel. At worst we have gotten silly echoes of the 19th-century “carriage house” style.
Are the opponents of the Tobacco Warehouse scheme making their point clearly? Is their narrative of a shell-game being played with public land ringing true?
Are the proponents of the plan allowing themselves to get caught up in the “end justifying the means” while ignoring what some think is a shady deal?