BBPDC Open Meeting Recap

BBPDC Financial Model Public MeetingBrooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC), the New York State government entity charged with designing and constructing the nascent Brooklyn Bridge Park, held a public meeting Wednesday night lasting over two and a half hours at a Polytechnic University auditorium in Metrotech to update the public on the park’s financial model for park construction and operation.

Well over 100 people attended the meeting, including elected officials State Assemblywoman Joan Millman, newly elected State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilman Bill DeBlasio, and non-elected City officials including NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Representatives of local neighborhood associations from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry were in the audience as well as local individuals and longtime park supporters and activists. David Walentas, founder of Two Trees Management and his wife Jane Walentas were in the audience for most of the presentation.

Both Senator Squadron and Councilman DeBlasio praised the meeting as a good first step towards better dialogue between the BBPDC and the public, and expressed expectations that as Brooklyn Bridge Park moves forward, the BBPDC will continue to communicate and cooperate with the surrounding communities. Some in the community have critized the BBPDC over the past few years for a lack of transparency regarding park financials and plans.

Regina Myer, BBPDC President, ran the meeting with her associate David Lowen, introduced as the VP of Real Estate. Both Myer and Lowen took the audience through a detailed presentation of current cost and revenue figures for park construction and maintenance.

The meeting presentation was professional. The BBPDC speakers went through the slide presentation quickly; however, based on the question and answer session that followed, those in the audience had few immediate problems with how the financials were calculated. Ms. Myer stated that an electronic copy of the presentation would be available on the BBPDCs website by January 30th, which is likely be closely scrutinized by elected officials and local park activists.

A park on the Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO waterfront has been much discussed and wished for in the community for many years. For the past 5 years the BBPDC, working with contractors, has prepared studies and detailed park designs and plans, cleared most of waterfront piers on the park site, and as of this month began construction of a limited portion of an overall park plan that will eventually stretch from Pier 6 on Atlantic Avenue to connect to the already completed Fulton Ferry State Park north of the Brooklyn Bridge. However funds are only currently available to build on Piers 1 and 6 and to connect the two with a narrow path.

The park has been a source of community controversy due to its unique funding arrangement where the ongoing maintenance budget for the park must be self-generating.  It would be the first public park in New York City that must fund its own ongoing maintenance.

The BBPDC has chosen to base most of this self-sustaining operating budget on revenues generated fron land rent and PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) on over 1,000 luxury housing units located in the park site, including the already completed 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park condo development (formerly known as 360 Furman St) and two planned apartment towers on Pier 6 as well as revenue from a planned hotel near Pier 1.  Restaurants and food stand concessions will contribute a much smaller share of the BBPDC’s planned park operating budget.

However, just last week, the BBPDC announced that due to poor market conditions, the planned hotel and housing not already constructed was “on hold” indefinitely.  This announcement only increased the community’s anxiety over the project and desire to scrutinize and discuss the park’s unique financial model.

Some in the meeting audience displayed acrimony and sharp criticism towards the BBPDC officials due to the park’s ballooning construction and maintenance budgets that have more than doubled since the BBPDC last released a detailed set of project financials.  Additionally, some at the meeting were angry with the BBPDC over its decision to include luxury housing and a hotel in the park plan as a way to fund the park’s ongoing maintenance rather than seeking other forms of revenue that were not fully dependent on the real estate market.

Other criticism included calls for the BBPDC’s board of directors to better reflect the diversity of opinion about park planning from the surrounding communities.

Ms. Myer announced that the BBPDC would reconstitute a Community Advisory Council (CAC) comprised of members from the local communities. When asked how the selection process would work for the CAC, Ms. Myer said she would primarily look to local elected officials to appoint community volunteers.

Some in the audience raised concern that a previous Community Advisory Council to the BBPDC several years ago was a “paper tiger”, to which Ms. Myer said that she looked forward to the advisement of the CAC and would work closely with the community. Ultimately the BBPDC’s board of directors steers and approves the agency’s direction.

Elected officials in attendance are likely to closely review tonight’s meeting presentation with updated financials and provide comment to the BBPDC and the community.

The meeting was covered by local TV stations and print media.

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  • davoyager

    no schools included in this plan and no calls for one. what a surprise.

  • http://deleted anon

    This meeting was a sham, like all the others. Oh, yes, the face was ohhh so sweet but the content absolute crap. The numbers are still inflated to justify Bloomie’s plans for condo dwellers to live in our parks – to “keep them safe” said the little man Lowen. So now we have 20 sit down mowers instead of 40…when all of Brooklyn’s parks have 26? There were no details on the Maintenance budget – so much for a legit analysis. The per acre costs included the water – how much mowing will go on in the water? The pols can now claim that there will be an open process in the future because the evil deed is done…the contracts to build the greenery around the condos have been signed. The money is now all spent and there is no hope for getting any more. So of course the pols now want to hear from the people – they are all so interested in what the communities have to say now that nothing can be done to fix the park because the dollars are committed to green up the lux condo lawns. So, no recreation center, no pool, no ice rink and now even, no pier 2 basketball, volleyball or tetherball. Shame on DeBlasio and the rest of them suggesting that this is an open process and things will change. Did you see the Promenade millionaires sitting together, smirking? So much for the rest of us.

  • anon

    We are again contintuing with a Park Plan to nowhere.
    The plan always anti-public, and elitist is now a fantasy. It is based on housing for invesmment bankers that no longer exist.. Lets green it up and use it for recreation NOW. It will take 30 years if ever to have a real park.. The current board that Regina Meyer works with has to go. Lets petition Governor Patterson for their removal now.

  • ABC

    I’ve never understood why the don’t take a “great lawn” approach to this park. I’d be happy to skip the tetherball courts and marina for a chance to throw a ball to my kids and nap in the shadows of manhattan. (And couldn’t we make this plan “shovel-ready in no time?? Let’s get our hands out now if there’s money to be had!)

    How much does 1BBP throw off now? Can they work backwards and say, “what can we maintain for what 1BBP contributes?” Plus concession contracts. And I’m sure there will be all sorts of opportunities for one-off concerts and events.

  • BklynJace

    I’m not a Promenade millionaire, but I’ve never been bothered by the idea of housing in the park, so long as that housing doesn’t prevent public access. I’ve honestly never understood the objection. Willing to be enlightened, if anyone wants to weigh in. (Preferably minus the useless, self-satisfied sneering of Post #2.)

  • ABC

    I dont like the housing because it seems to me, but the BBPC’s drawings make it impossible to tell, that the new buildings will block the view of the bridge from the park.

    I care more about this view than about the dock street view issue

  • Mike

    (This is a response to the person at the event who said “why does it cost so much to “mow water?”)

    One detail that wasn’t made clear during the presentation but was made clear in a subsequent conversation I had with one of the BBPDC employees is this.

    — The annual maintenance budget is ~$16MM (this is a reduction from the previous `$15MM when you adjust for inflation)

    — This annual maintenance budget includes ~$4MM annually for the maintenance of the wood pilings that hold up the majority of the park.

    — This ~$4MM is actually a 50-year average of the much higher (~$10MM to ~$15MM a year?) cost for the earlier years where the wood piles are “encapsulated” combined with the later years where work is much simpler.

    Another detail that maybe wasn’t clear is that it will cost over $100MM (I forget whether it’s $110MM or $150MM — I think it was ~$150MM just to prepare the site for ANY kind of park. This includes:

    — demo of all the piers
    — removal of all the debris
    — removal of most the asphalt
    — bringing in water, electric, sewage (or would we prefer the park had no light and no bathrooms?)
    — bringing in some basic topsoil so the park isn’t growing directly on the old, sunken substate that was below the asphalt.
    — supervising all this work

    Add that up and the park has already spent most its money just being there — what they build doesn’t matter too much. With that in mind, I’m glad they’re trying to a bit more than a “great lawn”.

  • Nancy

    The State and City do not have enough money to pay firemen, cops, or teachers. Hundreds will need to be laid-off. Where will the funds come from for this expensive park? Are we sure the money is assured even for the two initial little parklets? The construction delays have been very unfotunate. They could not build this when times were good, what makes us think they can now when times are so bad?

  • Publius
  • ABC

    All the numbers are online. The current numbers anyway.


    I think everyone realizes that a great expense of building a park on piers, is the building of a park on the piers. My issue is why not make it more a European model and skip the marina, the cricket pitch, the kayaking, the tennis courts and sand volleyball courts, etc and cut the price to $200mm instead of $350mm. You can always turn it into Chelsea Piers down the road.

    I know it’s simplistic. I just think it’s unrealistic (and always was) and honestly it makes me sad when I see the images of fenced off soccer fields when people have been gathering and playing pick-up soccer games in parks for centuries without having white lines sprayed all over. In many ways, I am glad we’re getting a scaled back version of this park.

    Also, in light of these numbers, the $3mm they get annually from 1BBP seems like a total joke to me. They expected $13mm to be thrown off from the new buildings???

  • Publius

    The Brooklyn Paper has an article about last night’s meeting here:

  • anon

    housing is a private live in interst in public park- that makes it private .. that makes the public unwelcome . I know the promenade elite do not want the public on that land.. that is not sneering that is a fact. Your time is done my elite friend.

  • BklynJace

    I hear two unsupported conclusions, anon, and something you blithely state as fact with no apparent evidence. Care to try again?

  • anon

    as i said your time is done.. you will not make it to the bench
    my friend

  • BklynLifer

    I was surprised to see the Mighty Fine Folks in the front row last night, smirking and calling people names, like the overgrown little boys they are. Usually they simply rule from on high, ignoring the will of the people, because they, like King Bloomie, know what’s best for the Little People — e.g., West Side Jets Stadium, Atlantic Yards, Yankee Stadium instead of a public park. These guys must all have a small putz problem, sort of like Napoleon, to explain such grandiosity and smug self-satisfaction. But why impose your need to flatter your ego on the rest of us.

    Let us have a G-d-Damn park, already!

  • Chester

    Who are those people Lifer

  • ABC

    Who are the Mighty Fine Folks and why don’t they want the park anyway? I understand why there were people who didn’t want a park entrance on Remsen, Montague, Pierrepont, Clark, but why would they be against the park in general. Are people on Fifth Ave/CPW against Central Park? Are people on PPW against PP? I mean, some people are about to get park AND river AND city view! Unless they think it’s NOT a park and really more an overgrown rec center. That, I understand.

  • anon


    we want a park you must have been one of those overgrown
    white guys in suits.. with a i am above you look.. a shmuck

  • anon

    oh by the way elections have results.. where is marty connor your go to boy now

  • ABC


    you think I was one of the “overgrown white guys in suits”

    I wasn’t there
    I’m not overgrown
    I’m not white
    I’m not a guy
    I wasn’t in a suit.

    Are you always this spot on?

  • Mike


    In response to both your points above.

    1. Yes, it seems like the other buildings would never thrown off $13MM when 1 BBP “only” throws off ~$3MM… until you realize that 1BPP got something of a discounted rate. Not because anyone gave them a “deal” — but because the building was already there — they didn’t have to pay the park 1 red cent.

    But… they did have to get the building rezoned from manufacturing to residential. There were two ways to do that. a) spend a lot of time going through ULURP and hope that you get the zoning change, or b) give the land under the building to the BBPDC — because once the building belonged to the BBPDC and not on regular land all zoning rules don’t apply — and then rent it back from the park.

    Bottom line, the annual rent 1BBP pays is somewhat less than the other buildings will pay. And this makes sense if you think about it. After all, they already bought the land from the Witnesses in the first place. There’s no way they would have made the deal if the rent was prohibitive.

    On the other hand, the developers who build the other buildings? They don’t have to buy land — they just have to build a building. The ability to avoid that up-front land acquisition cost is a darned valuable thing — and therefore they will be charged — and can afford — a much, much higher rent. Basically they can take the $$ they would have spent on buying land, stick it an account, and pay the rent with the interest over the next 100 years.

    2. To your other point a few different things.

    2a. While you and I realize that, as you put it, the “great expense of building a park on piers, is… the building of a park on the piers.” I don’t know that people really DO realize how expensive it is. I think that point was driven how quite well last night though for anyone who was listening.

    2b. You ask why don’t they “skip the marina, the cricket pitch, the kayaking, the tennis courts and sand volleyball courts, etc and cut the price to $200mm instead of $350mm.”

    There are no tennis courts I know of, the sand volleyball courts are actually CHEAPER than grass or just about any other kind of surface, the kayak launch will likely be revenue neutral or profitable, the marina is put off for the foreseeable future but would also be revenue neutral, and I don’t know anything about cricket pitches. ;)

    In general, I think if you listened carefully, you heard the park planners say NO to the people who wanted a lot of dedicated fields and specialized spaces — Adrian himself said that baseball diamonds are a lousy use of open space — only 18 people get to use all that land at a time.

    2c. You can always turn it into Chelsea Piers down the road. God help us if this happens. While I can appreciate the desire for a mixed use athletic facility in the area, why in god’s name would you put a windowless building that could exist ANYWHERE in the 5 boroughs and put smack dab in the middle of the best views in the city? It’s just absolutely non-sensical.

    In the end, I sense that we’re violently agreeing. We’re both excited to see the park come to life, we both recognize that the space is a very expensive piece of land to work on — regardless of use, and we both prefer a park that is really more or less un-“programmed” open space. If you look around the plan, you’ll realize that the vast majority of what’s getting built is just that — unplanned open space.

    Personally, I can’t wait!


  • anon

    you gonna have to wait a long long time.. this plan has no legs

  • BklynLifer

    The people who circulated a letter supporting Marty Connor, back in the day when they owned him. The people who contributed to the campaigns of Connor, Millman, DiBlasio, Velasquez, Yassky. Hank Gutman, for example.

  • anon

    hank guttman- of the i want to be a judge guttmans?

  • BklynLifer

    hank g of the master of the universe guttmans