DNA, BHA to Rally Against Dock Street DUMBO

Opponents of Two Trees’ Dock Street DUMBO project will be gathering this Sunday (1/11) at Washington and Prospect Streets at 10:30 AM to voice their dismay at the proposed 18 story building near the Brooklyn Bridge.  CB2 will vote on the project next Wednesday.

The group has sent out a one-sheet [PDF] which reads:

Two Trees Management wants to build an 18-story (over 200 feet high!) residential tower at Dock Street in DUMBO. It will permanently block views of and from the Brooklyn Bridge – a National Historic Landmark and one of the world’s most beloved icons.

  • Let’s make sure our Community Board and local political leaders know:
  • The Brooklyn Bridge is too precious to sacrifice for a developer’s profit.
  • The proposed Dock Street tower is too tall, inappropriate and out of context for this location.
  • We want a green building, affordable housing, and a middle school in a building no higher
    than the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. These benefits do not require an 18-story tower!
  • Our Kids Deserve a School without Sacrificing the Brooklyn Bridge

For more information – www.dumbo-dna.org
Rally Sponsors: DUMBO Neighborhood Association (dna@dumbo-dna.org)
Fulton Ferry Landing Association (fultonferry@gmail.com)
Brooklyn Heights Association (718-858-9193), Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association

Share this Story:


  • Publius

    The full CB votes this Wednesday (1/14). Make your voice heard at the Sunday rally in DUMBO.

    Thousands of petititon signatures, but residents in the street this coming Sunday morning will help and get further press coverage 3 days before the full CB vote, and will also help with the Beep and the City Council. Last chance!

  • Publius

    Just back from the rally. About 100 people turned out on a cold morning to hear Councilmen Yassky and Avella decry irresponsible development that if permitted would diminish our local, City and national treasure.

    If you missed the rally, then turn out this Wednesday at Borough Hall at 6pm to show the full CB2 how you feel.

  • dave

    once again the racists and the rich co-op and condo owners of dumbo and the heights are trying to destroy the only chance we have to get a quality public middle school for these neighborhoods. Yassky and Stanton say to neighborhood tweens: “tough luck kids. You get no hope for a future”
    A sad day for a Brooklyn where only private school kids matter and the lies of a few are misleading the many.

  • Publius


    Demonizing people who disagree with you on an issue and calling them racists is beyond the pale.

    Are the 8,000 people who signed the petition against the building as planned racists? Maybe on your planet they are.

    Was the NYC Board of Education racist when they repeatedly denied there was a need for a middle school until just 4 months ago when the Walentas proposal to provide an empty shell (still needing over $50 million of taxpayer funded build out) magically appeared as a ploy to divide the community on the issue and to provide enough of a carrot so that people who ordinarily would protect our heritage care more about their family’s short term self interest?

    The only chance to get a school as you write? I don’t think so. If during the last 120 days, the BoE now is ready to spend over $50 milllion to build out a middle school that will only serve 300 children, we know they’ll be able to find an alternate location that doesn’t diminish our national landmarks but provides for many more students and meet the expanding needs of the neighboring communities for years, not just the short term. Not just a band aid for the self interested whose children are rapidly approaching middle school age.

    What did all these folks do until 4 months ago? Where were people planning to send their kids for middle school? Planning on moving like my parents did when I attended middle school (or junior high school as it was called in my day) to get into a better or more conveniently placed school?

    Perhaps if you listen rather than shouting “racist”, you might understand that you’re being played by the developer. There’s NOTHING in writing guaranteeing the empty shell he’s promised. No, he just wants his zoning change. Then watch what happens.

    It’s the end of irresponsible development in NYC. Had you attended the rally as an observer, you would have seen Councilman Avella (also mayoral candidate) come out strongly in favor of a school, but not at the expense of the architectural and artistic heritage of our City.

    Is Avella a racist? Yassky? With so many racists, how does this city function?

    Now that the BoE is onboard finally with the need for a middle school, one is likely to happen much sooner than waiting for a private developer to get financing in this economy.

  • hickster

    amen publius. brilliant assessment

  • No One Of Consequence (Future Middle Schooler Parent)

    Thanks to those who appeared at the rally this morning. As much as I oppose this development, I wasn’t able to go.
    Hopefully your efforts will be enough to derail this endeavor and put it to rest for good.

    I have no intentions of sending my kids to private school, so I have reason to want a middle school in the neighborhood, especially as a racist co-op owner.

    I think Publius puts it very well especially in the context of not really saving $50MM that there were/are no plans to spend anyways. Couple that with nothing contractual about the school and Walentas reputation for chicanery.

    Where did $50MM come from anyways?
    The BofE could buy at least 1/2 of the Bossert for $50MM. What a nice school that would make.

  • Dave

    The racism and class-ism in these discussions, both overt and covert, is rampant. There is the use by some of code phrases like “imported teens” as well as direct references to the “projects” and “our streets”. There is much discussion about just who would be attending this school, who we would be seeing as we go about our daily business around our homes. This discussion has been used to generate unreasonable fear of and opposition to this wonderful idea of The Emily Warren Roebling Middle school for Environmental Arts and Sciences.
    And more importantly there is the covert bias of the well-heeled against the needs and wants of the institutionally underprivileged in our society. That this tiny snippit of view to and from this wonderful bridge is altered in a way that is not remotely like the much maligned Verizon building Yassky is so fond of citing, is more important than the first real chance we have had in decades to get a quality neighborhood PUBLIC middle school, well you tell me what kind of twisted value system would make that calculation.
    As for your phoney-baloney 8000 signatures: I live in this neighborhood, I walk over that bridge all the time. I know what kind of tactics your troops used to gather those. “Save The Brooklyn Bridge” indeed. With the phoney pictures. You don’t think I was asked to sign your petitions on my trips over the bridge or on Montague street, wherever? I know what you guys did and everyone else does as well. Those signatures from Kansas and Europe will not help you here.
    The Doe wants this project as they have built new schools all over the city in partnership with private developers and this way the $100 million cost of a quality 300 seat school is shared by the public and the private sector. Before this economic crisis the city didn’t have the money to build schools any other way. There is no reason to expect them to pay the full cost today.
    As for the institutional racism that has been built into the NYC public school system over the decades deliberately or otherwise, that is a discussion that can be left to another day.
    I’ll ignore the “self interest” crack. I’m fighting for a constituency who has little voice in Brooklyn Heights and none in Dumbo and that is middle school aged kids and most especially those without the vast private resources that seems to be required to walk these streets.

    And here it is for those of you who missed it: “What did all these folks do until 4 months ago? Where were people planning to send their kids for middle school? Planning on moving like my parents did when I attended middle school (or junior high school as it was called in my day) to get into a better or more conveniently placed school? ”
    He (Publius) is saying if I don’t like it leave. My parents didn’t leave 40 years ago when I went to public Junior High School here and I can tell you the choices facing today’s parents are worse than they were in my day.

    Yeah, it’s up to our elected officials to insure that these contracts with developers are honored rather than simply being the lap dog of the money interests. It’s their job to insure the consequences of non-compliance are absolute. The city can after all simply take what they want at the end of the day. The drumbeat of “he’s not gonna actually build what he says” is another misrepresentation. Again this is being done all over the city and we know how to hold people to contracts in this society.
    I think some of our elected officials are tragically are missing an historic opportunity to create something great, a legacy for the future.

  • David’s Merry-Go-Round

    “The drumbeat of ‘he’s not gonna actually build what he says’ is another misrepresentation.”

    I suggest you look at the Two Trees condos next to Trader Joe’s, where the builder tried to sneak around a height limited imposed by the City Council itself specifically for this project…now the DOB is looking at revoking their permits.

  • Jazz

    Well said David. Two Trees should be called Two Faced.

  • Publius

    It’s sad that the pro-Dock St. development side has decided to question the movtives of the thousands of people who wish to perserve the integrity of this National Landmark.

    Unfortunately the race card gets pulled out in situations where it’s unwarrented. Dave’s conspiracy-laden comments above are an example of this.

    Tell me Dave, if the school wasn’t presented as a carrot, would you support the Dock St. zoning change as the design is currently configured?

    Emily Roebling would turn in her grave to see how the Dock Street project as currently design would diminish her family’s engineering/artistic masterpiece and national landmark.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    Publius’ financial analysis doesn’t stand up.

    TT has offered a 45,000 square foot middle school to the DOE and will construct the shell at a cost of $10 million. In addition, they have offered either a 99-year lease or a condo interest.

    The DOE will most probably take the condo interest. This would allow them to enter a sale-leaseback transaction on the school. Essentially, they would sell the condo space subject to a long term lease. This would result in the DOE receiving most if not all of the cash needed to fit out the school in exchange for the promise to make lease payments for many years. This is real estate 101 and makes complete financial sense. Thus Publius, your conclusion that the taxpayers will foot a $50 million to open the school is incorrect.

    There are no viable alternative sites identified. Yassky has been saying we need to study this further. He personally told me that last March. How long does he need? He can walk his entire district in a half hour. Or drive it in five in his minivan if he prefers. Where are these so called alternative sites?

    I certainly understand where Dave (above) is coming from. Let’s call it like it is. There is sufficient reason to conclude that there is an element of racism involved. Logic and common sense support the notion that the opposition to Dock Street have an elitist attitude. Sorry but in my opinion, Dave’s argument stands.

    And lastly, to say this revised proposal will block views or the “experience” of the Brooklyn Bridge is silly. To say that Dock Street will turn DUMBO into Times Square is equally silly. All due respect but the opposition arguments are weak.


    Carlo Trigiani

  • HDEB

    It is ridiculous that the campaign is called “Save the Brooklyn Bridge” as if part of the Dock st. plan is to tear down the bridge.
    The campaign should really be called “Save my view of the Brooklyn Bridge”.

  • Publius

    Mr. Trigiani’s financial analysis makes some wildly hopeful assumptions:

    1) Once given their zoning change, what’s preventing Two Trees from selling this now more valuable lot and making a tidy short term profit? Nothing.

    2) How do we know the financing for this project will actually happen in the near or medium term? During the CB meeting in December Jed Walentas as directly asked this question by a CB member and was purposefully extremely vague and squishy. The only thing Jed’s answer was clear upon was that Two Trees did NOT have the financing lined up, but believed he could get it. Uh huh.

    3) Are any of the assumptions that Mr. Trigiani making anywhere in writing? From Two Trees, from the Board of Ed?

    We’re all supposed to trust that all of these pieces will nicely fall into place in a recessionary economy. Nowhere to my knowledge are any of these promises in writing. And in my quarter century of business experience, if it’s not in writing, there’s a reason why it’s not.

    Of course, all of the above is actually a side argument to the real issue (at least for me personally)–which is protecting our world renown National Landmark from diminishment by a building that’s simply too tall.

    Another thing I find so disingenous from the opposing side is their belittlement of this core argument. They like to point to the “seagull” eye view similation of the building’s impact on the bridge provided by the developer’s well paid architecture firm, which is from the middle of the East River and the best possible height and angle to make someone think it’s no big deal. Or to claim that one view from York Street will disappear and that it’s no big deal. Completely neglecting that all the approach views of the Brooklyn Bridge behind York Street will be gone forever.

    This is of course, in additon to the race card ploy used by some on the opposing side, so nicely timed to rear its ugly head right before the full CB vote.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    Dear Publius,

    In response:

    1) the current market conditions.

    2) no banks are currently lending money. By the time the project is fully vetted and approved in one to two years, realistically the lending market will be back.

    3) I agree – get it in writing. Shouldn’t Yassky be doing this to protect all our interests?

    As for the views, let’s just agree to disagree.

    And for race, unfortunately, we all have varying degrees of “isms” whether we want to admit it or not. One thing we can do to help our children is put them in schools that promote and cherish diversity. Hopefully the next generation will be less ‘ismed” than ours.


  • David’s Merry-Go-Round

    I’m not in favor of this project, but I do admit that there are some legitimate grounds for disagreement (notwithstanding the polemics posted here and elsewhere).

    However, to me, the school issue is a smokescreen that the developer has thrown up (to much success).

    I think the real issues are:
    (1) Is this block the appropriate place for a tower of this size? It seems the answer from the zoning law is inconsistent (hotel yes, residential no) and that should be decided one way or the other after public deliberation. I say no in any case, but there could be zoning arguments for yes. However, I don’t see why if the default answer is no (as is the case now for a residential tower), the answer should swing to yes, as Walentas argues, based on no zoning rationale whatsoever but instead on the idea that an unrelated public benefit trumps the status quo (taking Walentas at his word on all facets of the school proposal). This block managed to squeak out of recent zoning and landmarking changes and it should have been considered in the context of the neighborhood, not as a one-off decision that allows it to be framed as a school-or-no-school issue.
    (2) Even if the zoning is changed to permit the residential tower, is the view debate legitimate? I think so. The pro-Dock Street folks can call this viewpoint “silly” as long as they want but that’s just rhetoric to disguise real opposition – it’s not just some apartment building owners with views to be blocked, it’s not just some tourists who were corralled on the bridge or montague street, there are actual Brooklyn residents who think this is a bad precedent.

  • Dave

    See calling the school a smoke screen betrays your failure to understand the importance of this project to the community. If the politicians do their job instead of simply being obstructionist, the contracts between city and developer can be ironclad. Anyone who doubts the power of the city to enforce it’s will when properly motivated is living in a fantasy land. Stanton is quoted calling the school a crumb which again displays failure to apprehend how critical the need is for a public middle school to these surrounding communities. Rather than being a smoke screen or a crumb, the Emily Warren Roebling Middle School of Environmental Arts and Sciences would be a jewel in the New York City public school system, honoring a great unsung hero and providing an inspirational setting to mold the young minds we will need to solve the problems of the 21th century.
    As to your points:
    (1) This modest development (18 stories is no tower in NYC), which looks for all the world like the sibling of the other big buildings down there is entirely in context. Reasonable people may disagree on this point and we should be so lucky that this would be some kind of sticking point.
    (2)Yes there were actual Brooklyn residents who signed those petitions. I myself was told on more than 1 occasion that this building would block our view of the bridge from the promonade or been told the taller building would be right up against the roadway, and so forth. I would submit those petitions are invalid because of the tactics use to finagle those signatures. It’s been a long discussion and there are some on your side of the debate who have been playing political hardball and I think it’s time we called them on it. You don’t engage in a civil debate cloaked with fabric of lies unless you seek to obscure the truth and pervert the process to your purposes.
    That is why I have lost all respect for the obstructionists who seek to rob Brooklyn of this extraordinary opportunity.

  • No One Of Consequence (Future Middle Schooler Parent)

    I think the moniker “obstructionist” may be better purposed to those who favor the development.

    How might you propose to filter the invalid signatures from the valid?
    I think democracy should work this way. So&So politician said he would do X during his first 2 years in office, so I voted for him. Here we are in year 3 and he hasn’t. I would like to re-cast my vote.

    Like I’ve said before, I have no plans (or means) to put my kids into a private [middle] school, so I could benefit greatly from this project. Yet I still oppose it because I’m not the elitist, selfish, slave-owning BH co-op owner that the allegations suggest. If I were, I’d be all for it because it would be good for me. But this is a BAD project which, if allowed to come to fruition, will have permanent consequences outside of our shallow little community(-ies).

  • Dave

    I want to offer up the idea of building The Emily Warren Roebling Middle School of Environmental Arts and Sciences in this wonderful location. The School of the Unsung Hero. What a wonderful setting to spend your middle school years. With the Brooklyn Bridge Park right there? I would have been so inspired when I was coming up to have my middle school years in such a setting. Let’s give this school to the children of Brooklyn shall we? Emily would be so proud.

  • No One Of Consequence (Future Middle Schooler Parent)

    Without the tower building? I’m all for it.

  • Publius

    Emily Roebling would turn in her grave to see how the proposed building diminishes her family’s masterpiece. Let’s make her proud by reducing the height.

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Qfwfq

    “Dave”, if you insist on shilling for Two Trees/Walentas, please do so in a far more convincing fashion.

    And don’t copy/paste your comments from one site to another, it’s lazy and uninspiring.

  • Carlo Trigiani

    To Dave’s point on political hardball tactics. One week before the CB2 committee hearings on Dock Street the BHA presented a “feasiblilty study” on making PS 8 a K-8. The timing was dubious. The author, an architect who happens to be the president of the BHA, is obviously coming to the study with a certain bias. At the PS 8 PTA Executive Committee Meeting where the study was presented, no copies of the study were distributed and when asked, Ms. Stanton would not commit to posting the study on the BHA website. A reasonable person would conclude that the “feasiblity study” was not an earnest attempt to solve the problem, but an obstructionist attempt to rally support against Dock Street.

    Having said that, this is a process. If the BHA would post the study on their website or make copies available for review, I would happily take the time to consider their proposal.

  • dave

    Comment from Qfwfq
    Time: January 13, 2009, 8:45 am

    “Dave”, if you insist on shilling for Two Trees/Walentas, please do so in a far more convincing fashion.

    And don’t copy/paste your comments from one site to another, it’s lazy and uninspiring.

    OK that’s just nasty. I’m not “shilling” I’m speaking from the heart.

    And the copy and paste comment from the administrators of this site betrays their bias and is inaccurate. I rewrote and added to a previously posted comment; a far cry from copy and paste. I feel very deeply the idea of this school is so inspirational and right for this time.

    And in my opinion Emily would be proud to be honored in this way. When the bridge was built it was the tallest structure in all of NY. Her motivation was to do good for the people of NY, to build a better future. That is my motivation right now in putting forth this idea. Your smear campaign against people who disagree with you is unattractive.

  • Jazz

    Dave, in a word “decaf”.

  • nabeguy

    We have a pre-existing school up for grabs right in the middle of the Heights…St Charles Borromeo. Can someone please tell me why this ‘gimme” situation has never been investigated and, if it has, what objections there are to it?

  • http://brooklynheightsblog.com Qfwfq

    “Dave”, I really don’t care one way or the other about this project. The “Save the Views!” argument seems silly to me, and a building is going to be put there whether anyone likes it or not, but I am skeptical that Two Trees has any real intention of hosting a middle school on that property. They’ve been trying to get a zoning change for at least 4 years now, and threw in the middle school idea because they knew many in the public would support their project if there was a possibility of a new school. Who can argue against new schools? Nevermind that there are, in my opinion, plenty of existing spaces in better locations for which to put a school, if you truly support one. Or the fact that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said there’s no plans to build any new schools because there is no need for them. This is just a tactic by Two Trees to get their residential condos built.

    What I really object to, though, are astroturfing campaigns using this site as a platform. That really grinds my gears.

  • Mom

    St. Charles is owned by the RC diocese, they have to want to sell it. Ive heard several rumors about its future but when Ive asked folks at the rectory they have never been able to confirm any definite future for the space yet.

  • dave

    “Qfwfq”, lovely name by the way, the Chancellor has reversed his opinion since then, two trees is trying to build rentals in this case not condos, and the “astroturfing campaign as you put it began long before I discovered your blog and I found the discussion here entirely one sided. My opinions are entirely my own and are deeply felt. I was born here, grew up and went to public school here and am now raising children of my own here. If opinions from only one side of the discussion are welcome here then you should name your site accordingly.

  • nabeguy

    Thanks Mom. Given the news about the RC school closings in the papers today, I can’t imaging why they wouldn’t want to sell a building that’s been dormant for over a year, with no solid plans for it, especially in light of the desperate need on the public school side.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Astroturfing,?, ya learn the durndest things on this site.

    @dave, it’s homer’s site, we just live here, too. It if it appears one-sided, then perhaps there is a majority opinion.