Riverside Garage Proposal Raises its Head Again

Over three years ago, we noted that the proposal by landlord Pinnacle Group to build a parking garage in the courtyard between the A.T. White Riverside Apartments and the BQE, which would entail destruction of a grove of mature trees (see photo) as well as disruption of tenants’ lives, was “proving harder to kill than Rasputin.” Just over a year ago, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal denied Pinnacle’s request to re-open its previously denied application for permission to construct the garage. Earlier this year, a court upheld the DHCR’s decision. Now, it seems, Pinnacle’s ba-a-a-ack.

Ben Bankson, President of the Willowtown Association, has received a message from Bill Ringler, President of the Riverside Tenants’ Association, reporting that Pinnacle’s attorney, Ken Fisher, has persuaded the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to allow a modification to the permit for the garage which would relocate the entrance to the garage, and that the modification was allowed without any public hearing (though Pinnacle asserts that ther was one), and Pinnacle is now reapplying to the DHCR, seeking a third bite at the apple. The Riverside tenants have until Wednesday, October 26 (two weeks from yesterday) to respond to Pinnacle’s petition to the DHCR, and they are considering how to proceed and exploring options as to legal representation.

Bankson contacted Judy Stanton, Executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, who said she was not notified of the application to the LPC for modification of the permit. She is looking into the matter further.

Update: I’ve amended the text above, based on Bill Ringler’s comment below.

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  • Bill Ringler

    There seems to be no 1-story above ground building in the new plans as per the article. It seems to be my mistake in reviewing the plans earlier with Ben.

    The 1-story brick structure noted on one of the documents seems to be the 1-story underground garage structure. The other “at ground-level” (small) diagrams don’t seem to indicate an above ground 1-story brick structure.

    Mr. Fisher has indicated in his papers to the NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal that there were extensive public hearings for the 2011 plans. There were no public hearings for the 2011 plan modifications that anyone was made aware of. Permit modifications may be done at the LPC without a public hearing, as seems to the case here.

    The only obvious difference in these plans and the earlier garage plans, which were defeated, is the location of the underground garage entrance. The old garage entrance had been behind 30 Columbia Place, and the new one is now placed behind 10 Columbia Place.

    The Riverside Tenants Association will respond in opposition to Pinnacle’s garage plans in a timely manner with the State DHCR.

    Pinnacle has filed papers of intent in State Appellate Court to appeal the NY State Supreme Court decision – which denied their earlier garage plans. However, they have not submitted the actual Appeal Case Documents yet, but they still have time to do so.

    The issue at hand is the loss of the old trees, increased air and noise pollution and the added danger to the tenants of 97 cars going into and out of the courtyard as a 24-hour/ 7-day a week commercial parking garage. Also the possibility of structural loss to the buildings which are built on 13′ of landfill dating from the 1800s.

    The buildings were built by Alfred T White in 1890, and the trees were planted as landscaping at that time. Photographic evidence shows the current trees in place in the early 1900s. Mr. Fisher wants the DHCR to believe the present trees were planted as replacements when the BQE was constructed in the 1940’s or 50’s.

    We have testimony from tenants who have lived here for 80-years that these trees as not replacements planted in the 40’s or 50’s.

  • stuart

    Those trees look like mature deciduous trees planted about sixty or so years ago.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Sixty, seventy, one hundred ten or twenty, years old. Whats the f’in difference, the trees should not be cut down for some ugly parking lot. The Pinnacle people sound like bunch of greedy scum.

  • stuart

    Oh my God! Greedy scum?? In Brooklyn Heights?
    Did you evah?

  • mlo

    the “g” word

  • Tarekp

    Beware, every tenant received a packet and it makes the proposal look great. It shows diagrams of a beautiful park with more trees than stand there currently AND they provide ‘evidence’ that the noise will not be noticeable and the pollution will actually be less in due time.

    I almost fell into support of this until I remembered the infestation of water bugs in my Apartment due to ongoing negligence and lack of care/response from Pinnacle, whose scummy ‘pesticide’ company doesn’t show up or return phone calls. Not to mention the filthy hallways in the building as well.

  • Andrew Porter

    When Ken Fisher represented this area, he lived at 60 Pineapple Street. Does he still live there? Perhaps a picket line in front of wherever he lives might make a difference in his stubborness about trying to push this through.

  • Quinn Raymond

    The last thing our neighborhood needs is more parking and car use. We have 9 subway lines! This is ridiculous.