Bay Area Economics (“BAE”), the consultants hired by the board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to study alternatives to housing in the park as sources of funding for park operations and maintenance, have submitted the final version of their report to the board’s Committee on Alternatives to Housing. The full text of the report can be found through a link on the Corporation’s website. The Report makes no specific recommendations concerning whether or not to build housing, but simply evaluates the revenue, and the risks concerning availbility of such revenue, that can be anticipated from various sources that were suggested and studied as alternatives to revenue from housing, and which the Committee deemed to be in accordance with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) under which the city agreed to take responsibility for construction, operation, and maintenance of the park; in particular, that no funds (other than payments in lieu of taxes, “PILOTs”, on the housing and hotel planned to be built on park land) that would otherwise accrue to the city’s general revenues would be diverted for park use.
Based on its study, BAE concluded that the annual revenue to be anticipated from the alternative sources, taking into account risk factors, ranges from $2,421,000 on the most conservative assumptions to $6,951,000 on the most optimistic ones. (See page iii of the Report; these amounts are the same as in BAE’s draft report–see here.) The largest part of this ($1 million on a conservative basis; $4 million on an optimistic view) would come from creation of a Park Improvement District, which would levy a fee on properties (both business and residential) located near the park. Creation of such a District would require approval of a majority of the affected property owners. No revenues were anticipated from conversion of the Watchtower properties because of uncertainty concerning Watchtower’s willingness to pay for expedited land use review, which was the one source of revenue (apart from a potential one-time payment in consideration for redesign of the hotel planned for the Pier 1 upland so as to improve the view from apartments in the Watchtower complex) that was considered to meet the requirements of the MOU. Proposals to allow PILOTs, or similar levies, on the Watchtower properties were dismissed as violating the terms of the MOU. (See pages vii-viii.)
The projected revenues from the alternative sources, even on the most optimistic assumptions, would be far less than the anticipated annual operational and maintenance expenses of $16 million (see page 11). Therefore, if the conclusions of the BAE study are accepted, alternative sources can at best be expected to reduce somewhat the scale of housing needed to supply revenues for the park.
The Committee on Alternatives to Housing will meet this coming Tuesday, June 14, at 2:00 p.m., on the first floor of the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Heights Branch, 280 Cadman Plaza West, to consider whether to submit BAE’s report to the full board. The public is invited to attend, but no comments from the public will be entertained. Public comments were received for a period following submission of the draft report in February until April 23 (see here).