City Announces Plan That May Reduce Scale of Park Housing

Mayor Bloomberg announced this evening that city and state officials plan to sign an agreement tomorrow concerning the funding of Brooklyn Bridge Park that may result in smaller scale housing being built on park land, and may even eliminate the need for the two planned new buildings near the foot of Pier 6.

The New York Times: After months of uncertainty over the fate of the popular Brooklyn Bridge Park, city and state officials plan to sign an agreement on Tuesday that would allow limited private housing to be built there, to help pay an expected annual operating cost of $16 million.

The agreement ensures that the park, which now measures 20 acres, will be completed, eventually expanding to 85 acres on five disused piers along the East River.

According to the Times story, the agreement will allow a building planned for John Street in DUMBO to proceed, but at a greatly reduced scale. The story also mentions in passing the planned combination hotel and apartment complex (although it characterizes it as “a hotel and retail complex” and asserts that it has “attracted less controversy”) planned for the landward side of Pier 1, for which the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has announced its intention of issuing a request for proposal this month, and which apparently will not be affected by the agreement.

The big news is that the city has agreed to consider revenues from the sale of Watchtower properties as a source of park funding. Under the agreement, to which the Watchtower is not a party, should the Watchtower sell all or some of its properties in conjunction with its planned move upstate before January 1, 2014, the city will consider tax revenue from those properties as offsetting the need for payments in lieu of taxes from the residential buildings planned for Pier 6. Under the proposed offset formula, according to the Times, it would take sales of 1.5 million square feet of Watchtower property to eliminate the need for both Pier 6 buildings.

State Senator Daniel Squadron, who has been a strong advocate of use of revenues from the Watchtower properties to fund park opeartion and maintenance, and who, under the earlier agreement between the city and state authorizing the city to take over development of the Park, has been given veto power over the construction of housing on park land, is quoted by the Times as saying the new agreement is “not as extreme as the plan that we’re changing, but a way to build a great new park in tough times.”

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  • Matthew Parker

    Good news! Cautiously optimistic.

  • Matthew Parker

    The NY Post (that Murdoch bastion of fine journalism) has more about the deal here, which apparently involves State Senator Squadron and State Assemblywoman Millman voluntarily giving up their veto power over housing in the park. http://nyp.st/ph6zo2

  • william

    Even though it isn’t a “real” park, no housing or development should be built there. They should use the ignored maritime resources they have to make money.

  • http://deleted Anon

    Squadron and Millman sold DUMBO and Vinegar Hill out. And for what? Pier 6 will get housing no doubt about that one. Wonder how much Bloomberg gave the pols for their re-election efforts…anybody want to venture a guess?

  • sandy

    Daniels very young political career was based on his pledge about no more housing in BBP. Who can run against him in 2102? He needs to be retired from politics at as a young man.

  • sandy

    Correction.. Who can run against him in 2012

  • Matthew Parker

    Here’s the email Sen. Squadron sent to supporters today:

    Dear Friend:
    For years, I’ve been working to change the Brooklyn Bridge Park plan because I disagreed with the proposal for housing in the park and believed that we needed more amenities and a stronger guarantee that the park would be completed.
    Today, we took a big step forward to reach those goals.
    I’ve reached a deal with Mayor Bloomberg, Assembly Member Millman, and Council Members Levin and Lander that addresses long-standing community concerns by significantly reducing or eliminating housing in the park, replacing it with alternative funding sources – most notably the Watchtower properties, which I’ve been fighting to include. Potential housing developments at Pier 6 could be eliminated under this deal. The building at John Street will be immediately reduced to be contextual with the surrounding neighborhood.
    And we won many amenities for the community and park users: a temporary pool for at least the next five summers, a Pier 5 recreational ‘bubble’ that will make the park usable in the winter, an ice skating rink, two tennis courts, and 2,200 feet of community space.
    This is a win for our community, a win for Brooklyn and a win for all of New York City.
    Click here to read the New York Times’ coverage of the deal in today’s paper.
    Best,
    Daniel