Electeds to de Blasio: Slow the Roll on Brooklyn Bridge Park Housing

News broke earlier this week of a letter sent to Mayor de Blasio from area electeds asking him to reevaluate and slow down plans for housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park:

New York Times: In a letter to Mr. de Blasio, dated April 7, a group of city, state and federal lawmakers expressed their dismay at the “breakneck speed” with which the administration was pursuing the housing at Pier 6 and urged the new administration to “work collaboratively on alternative park financing, rather than moving forward with the Bloomberg plan.”

The letter was signed by State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, State Assemblywoman Joan Millman, United States Representative Nydia M. Velázquez, and City Councilmen Stephen T. Levin and Brad Lander.

Maintenance of the waterfront park, whose piers are adversely affected by marine organisms, as well as winds and tides, is unusually expensive, estimated to cost about $16 million a year. But the housing, some of which is already built, was controversial from the start, with a number of community leaders and lawmakers arguing that it set a dangerous precedent for public parkland.

The full story is here. What do you think? Comment away!

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  • Philip Galindo

    Government ownership of housing is ALWAYS a bad idea.

  • fast_walker

    The housing on Pier 6 has been in the plan from the start. It is necessary for the park to be finished and the interest groups pushing back against it have many agendas – none of them have to do with what is best for the park. The buildings are supposed to have some workforce housing and will allow allow for more retail space to be filled bringing more funds to operate this wonderful waterfront area. At the end of the day, the residents of NYC do not care if you call it a development or parkland. What they do care, evidenced by scores of smiling people showing up there, is having a place where they can lie on the grass, or where kids and young adults (your tax base) play sports or have a snack while enjoying the wonderful views of the harbor. Unless the letter writters can come up with a sustainable financing alternative now instead of stalling the process, we should move on to discussing the actual rfp proposals and their details. For instance, availability of parking and good public schools in this area with growing population. Another item which I would hope the above mentioned group would move up on their agenda is resolving the sanitation issues anywhere outside of the BBP. Do walk up the Atlantic Avenue and count the number of trash piles. If they have alternative sources of funding, sure enough there are many other areas where they can be used to improve NYC quality of live.

  • Martin L Schneider

    Yes to most of these points which deal with the reality of an immensely popular park which has plenty of room for people and appropriate revenue-producing housing. Yes, let’s move on and be sure to see that any proposals measure up to the outstanding qualities of our world-class park. That must include saving sight-lines; achieving architectural and environmental excellence; and establishing visual and social harmony with the park and its multiple missions.

  • Jorale-man

    I’m glad to see some push-back against the housing plans. The notion that you *must* have housing in the park or no park is false choice. Look at Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side, which has been built without condos going up amid the bike paths and lawns. Granted, it’s a narrower space but they still had to come up with the funding for that. Or look at countless other new parks around the U.S.

    I still maintain that parks should be about escaping from urban life – the concrete, noise and commerce. BBP is giving over a significant part of what could have been green space to buildings that don’t have to be there. In generations to come, people are going to look back at the park as a fine amenity but also a huge missed opportunity.

  • David on Middagh

    The rolling hills of Pier 1 will certainly lose some of their get-away-from-the-hood feel once that hotel and condo building rise up on the other side of the path.

  • miriamcb

    I agree – it will feel much less like a park once those are finished, which is really too bad. I’m not looking forward to the day those are actually built.

    I am originally from Chicago – a city that purposely preserves its lakefront park space for interaction with the lake and paths and it really is nice to have more open space rather than buildings in the park reminding you of the bustle of a crowded city.

  • ujh

    Except for “fast walker” and Martin Schneiderman, none of the posters seem to have an inkling of the decades-long struggle to get a park on this site – period, I gather you speak of ignorance because all new parks must be self-sufficient. Do you have any idea of the costs to maintain the pier pilings? I invite you to continue to engage in wishful thinking.

  • e

    I think the focus of our local politicians should be on reducing / eliminating the endless helicopter traffic in the East River (and the accompanying noise of rotor wash) rather than reopening the debate over housing in the park.

  • CHatter

    The point that seems to get lost in this discussion, every time (though the posting does a very good job with it), is that the revenue from the park housing is for maintenance, and ultimately, for public safety. It’s not about whether we have a park or no park, it’s about whether the park can be sustainable in its present form without relying entirely on the public dole. The park is lovely today, and getting better all the time. But without funded maintenance of this massive space, it could over years become a disused blight, and one that is far more dangerous to the local community than fenced-off warehouses were. That upkeep is very expensive, and should not be left solely to the political whim of future city administrations. Dedicated private funding shields us, at least in part, from that risk.

  • Still Here

    Hudson River Park is in dire financial trouble as it cannot implement housing/hotel propeties on its few precious developement sites:
    Let’s hope they can sell those air rights:

  • Still Here

    Chicago developed its government-funded waterfront parks long ago, as did NY its interior parks – NYC gave up our waterfronts to maritime use and Robert Moses’ highways. However, like other grand new park projects, Chicago’s recent Millennium Park was funded by a public/private initiative. The M park revitalized the residential and commercial real estate adjacent to the park – increasing property values, real estate taxes and increased sales tax revenues. Chicago, implemented Tax Incremental Funding (TIF), a direct tax on the new real estate, which funds part of the future development. Its new skating rink was similarly funded. However, it still relies on philanthropy going forward. M Park was built atop a railroad station and parking garage which provide much, but not all of, the operational funding. Unlike Chicago, our land adjacent to the park is already prime residential housing and any proposals to effect a TIF-like plan on existing residences has been controversial, if not impossible to implement in NYC – none of the proposed ‘PIDs’, like HRPs, have gotten off the ground – same for Squadron’s Witness tax plan – too little and appaarently too late.

    For BBP, the two small parcels that shall be developed in Pier 6 shall achieve the same effect – ‘tax’ revenues from real estate that benefits from its proximity to the park – on about 1000 residents (1BBP, Pier 6, Pier 1 and John St Condo development). Great bang for the buck, especially in this real estate market.

    And the smartest thing that BBPDC did was get the necessary state legislation that dedicates the PILOT money from the CONDOS to the park and not to the general fund of future NYC administrations. And, unlike privately funded parks (see the link) which have uncertain futures due to their private funding, we are not dependent upon future philanthropy.


  • miriamcb

    I understand how the parks were funded in Chicago and I would posit that they did a better job of it with more thought in the overall planning. I don’t particularly need a lecture about it.

    My point is, with housing in the park, it will feel less like a park and more like an urban living space with some green space around it.

  • e

    I don’t think the housing in the park would be government-owned. Isn’t it just that the taxes the owners will make will go to park maintenance instead?

  • Jorale-man

    I can understand all of the arguments as to why condo-derived funding is more financially sound and stable than other types of support. And I realize that these arguments have been mostly settled by now. But to me, it comes back to what should a park be? Is it still a park when you have giant commercial buildings operating inside it? Maybe instead of all of the massive recreation facilities and the fancy landscaping, they could have done something simpler for a lot less money?

  • bialy

    This is all nonsense .. Stop all further construction. We don’t need a hotel and a bunch of ugly condos down there. No one would even want to live there except for a few idiots and billionaires from some other country that visit NYC on occasion. Use the area that has already been excavated for a nice low rise rest stop for the users of the park. Use it for a few restaurants, pubs, clean bathrooms and park security. No higher than 1 or 2 stories. The entire rest of the plan should be scrapped and replaced with a natural park, waterfront, trails, informational and educational kiosks etc. This is a no brainer. The Mayor wanted a huge tax increase for some New Yorkers to pay for pre-K in the order of 500 million dollars a year. Now that Gov Cuomo is funding that effort from NYS funds, cant the Mayor peel off 15 million a year from his budget for 1 year? For this park to be special to the people of Brooklyn? And not the wealthy investors and tourist grade types. I think the people of Brooklyn would donate enough money into a fund to run the park very easily. There is another solution besides ugly condos, billionaires and tourists. Get it ?

  • Fast-walker

    One last thought about this. I think some of the residents have been envisioning prospect park on a pier and are disappointed with the outcome. The reality is that it would be very hard to achieve simply because of the terrain. You simply can’t grow an oak tree on a pier. After all, this is a city harbor and you are looking directly onto an urban jungle of the downtown. This is an urban landscape. You don’t come here to escape from the city. You come here because you embrace it and hope to find beauty in it. As such, I agree with Martin S that we hope to see some outstanding designs for the two housing projects. Perhaps those alternative funding sources could be used to attract a star architect? Together with the pier 6 ray platform, completed pier 6 lawn and pier 5 uplands this would make it quite a destination.

  • David on Middagh

    “You simply can’t grow an oak tree on a pier. After all, this is a city
    harbor and you are looking directly onto an urban jungle of the

    Pier 1 begs to differ, tho’. Fast-walker, have you taken the back paths in the summer up the Pier 1 hill? The lushness hides Manhattan. My disappointment is with the rebuilding of buildings on either side of the bouncy bridge. They *will* change the character of that section of the park. (And I still can’t believe we’re putting a hotel and a residential building in a flood zone.)

  • RS

    Has anyone tried to enjoy the park on a weekday? The noise from the construction is unbearable and removes any chance for an enjoyable park experience. Most people I see there are tourists. More construction of housing will only add to the noise and urban blight of what could have been a wonderful park for city residents. The politicians sold us out to the developers of housing at the park and Dock Street Dumbo!