So What Do You Think About Gothamist’s Take on Housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6?

Jake Dobkin, king of all Gothamist/Park Slope resident, writes about the controversy around housing at Pier 6 in his “Ask a Native New Yorker” column. It’s witty and well-informed but do you agree with what he’s saying? Here’s a sample:

Gothamist: The Pierhouse Condos currently going up by Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park were similarly protested before the Great Recession. Neighborhood groups argued that the park shouldn’t depend on condo sales and taxes to support itself, and that a luxury building with units priced “from the two millions” is an odious affront to the egalitarian, democratic spirit that our city parks are supposed to embody.

There is something to this! However, that deal is done—the neighborhood did manage to limit the height of the south Pierhouse building to four stories, where it will block less of the view from the Promenade. If you’re still mad about it, think about it this way: when Hurricane Sandy II arrives, these condo buyers will be performing a valuable service to their neighbors further up the hill, absorbing many millions of gallons of fetid East River water in their basement before it can poison the rest of us.

Read the full piece here.

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  • DIBS

    People forget that there probably wouldn’t be a park without this revenue structure. It IS NOT like other parks, for better or worse.

  • Jorale-man

    Sadly, I think the public opinion outside of Brooklyn Heights is moving in favor of the 31-story tower. The pro-development side has framed the argument about creating affordable housing, and not about the obvious quality of life problems that arise with such a massive structure in a park/lowrise community.

    As Dobkin suggests, the anti-development side has not made its case well either. But it all comes down to this: are more tall skyscrapers really the *only* way a NYC park can be funded in 2014?

  • stuart

    I don’t know if new residential development is the only way a NYC park can be funded today but it is the only way this park can be funded. That was the deal.

  • Jorale-man

    Well, some will disagree. And I’d think in a city with as many finance people running around someone could come up with a better strategy.

  • gc

    Why is this the only way the park could be funded?
    Because the politicians, bought and paid for by the real estate developers, say it’s so, and have made it so. Do you see how insidious the problem really is?

  • Solovely

    We know the sides of this debate, but what is there was a game changer? What if he park *didn’t* need the money? Would you still want to build? NEW information — below.

    The Park Corp is poised to reap a seven-fold tax increase from OBBP alone as tax breaks expire, raising close to $200 million over 50 years, which would more than fund park operations as well as the one-time maritime repair to supporting piers.

    Investigations by the community have revealed that, the Park Corp did not disclose this extra $4 million per year in funding from the residents of One Brooklyn Bridge Park in the August presentation seeking to justify building towers on Pier 6, and instead based their analysis on FY 2018, just before the tax break begins to expire.

    $4 million starting in 2020 — 1/3 of the $12m their projected park budget from OBBP alone?unaccounted for?

    Here is the financial details —

  • Henry

    As the park is already fully funded, then why are we building in Brooklyn’s park?

    We wouldn’t build in Central Park, so why build in Brooklyn’s park?

  • Henry

    We can’t even shade Central Park, but it is ok to build 31 story towers in Brooklyn’s park???

  • Willowtown Resident

    The park is already fully funded. There is literally NO economic argument for building. It will be interesting to see how BBPDC dances around that issue in court. Will they perjure themselves or come clean?

  • stuart

    the funding we are talking about is for the ongoing maintenance of the park, you understand. This long, ribbon of a park along the waterfront is and will continue to be extremely expensive to keep up. When the city is in financial trouble, the first thing to go is funding for parks, that is why it makes so much sense to have a dedicated stream of money that can go solely to the park.

  • stuart

    if you study NYC history you will see that this city has always lived and died at the hands of real estate interests. You see, we are not a capital city like Paris or London or DC that can draw unlimited amounts of money from the national treasury. we are a business city. a capitalist city. that is what has built the city including its parks, museums, theaters, opera houses, etc. No government money at all. without the capitalists and the entrepeneurs paying real estate taxes -that is really the life blood of the city – we would be Dogpatch-on-Hudson.

  • Solovely

    We do understand; they have a very expensive, and cushy, budget. However, we’ve taking a dive into the park’s finances and Save Pier 6 thinks the public’s trust in the financial disclosure may need revisiting. Please see my comment below; significant incoming tax abatement revenues of the park unaccounted for in the park’s financial model disclosure.

  • stuart

    OK, but a lot of people including the NY Times editorial board think it is really NIMBY-ism and nothing more. check out the editorial on line or read it in tomorrow’s (Sunday) paper.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    Why do you look to quote the NY Times? Who cares what the NY Times says? They are not the be all and end all of the truth.

  • stuart

    of course not, but it is a very influential newspaper that is widely read. they are calling the opponents the 1% who don’t want new people moving in nearby. It’s pretty damning.

  • Solovely

    Stuart, I can’t explain it… I wish I could? This neighborhood has a very, very, long history of fighting the “housing in the park model,” and this latest battle, against more housing on Pier 6 ( that also seems to be financially unjustified ) is only the latest battle in the war. Why the Times and others seem only willing to think about housing, and a building(s), and not about quality of life for everyone, and the community’s longstanding dream for a real park in a fast growing borough with very little park space — is an open question.

  • davoyager

    Those luxury buildings will only be able to soak up a few million gallons of fetid river water, there is plenty more where that comes from. And in the new buildings, the so called “affordable housing” if it actually is included in the project after being dangled like a shiny bauble before the eyes of the public, will without doubt be in the basement floors… with a separate entrance, a kind of poor door. Isn’t that that fashion these days?

  • ltap917

    I agree. I used to walk up and down Park Avenue years ago just to look at the lovely old pre-war buildings. I wonder how many of those Park Avenue residents would welcome “affordable housing” in their neighborhood especially a 31 story tower? Do you think the NY Times would call THAT NIMBYism?

  • ltap917

    I am suspicious of anyone who thinks the NY Times is the be all-end all.

  • Moni

    The view from the Promenade of the skyline and bridge is not just a local treat. This view belongs to the world; it’s a national treasure as well as a local one, which is why so many movies include a promenade scene, so many tourists bring their cameras there and countless brides and grooms go there to photograph themselves on their wedding day. Putting up condos that will block the view of the bridge is like chopping down sequoias . Just anopther example of how nothing is sacred when RE developers and politicians join forces for mutual profit.

  • William Spier

    If the City politicians really felt that the BBP was a large urban project for all to enjoy, the bill for maintenance and efficient and safe access would be born by all. But by including expensive housing in the middle of the park, they furthered my belief that NYC has a pernicious apartheid bent to its civic life and is willing to flaunt it. The issues of building height, and ‘po folk entrances to new buildings are just white caps on top of an ocean of racial and economic privilege.

  • ujh

    You seem to forget (or don’t know) that One BBP had its real estate tax assessment lowered when the lofts couldn’t be sold during the economic downturn (it may also have changed its offering plan to permit rentals). This resulted in an at least 50% reduction in PILOTS that went into the BBP dedicated fund. If another R.E. bubble were to burst in the future, the BBP must have the reserves to pay park maintenance – pier decay will not stop because less money flows into the BBP fund.

  • ujh

    All those who point to Central Park as the guiding principle should get a grip on history and reality. Central Park and Prospect Park were built more than a century ago when park maintenance was paid by the tax payers. We have seen what happened to these great parks beginning in the 1970’s. If it hadn’t been for the Central Park Conservancy (and subsequently for the Prospect Park Alliance) and the millions of private donations, large and small, these parks would not have restored to what they are today.
    Neither then Borough President Golden nor Governor Cuomo Sr. backed the initial concept of a park on the site of Piers 1 to 6. It was the late Eileen Dugan, Assemblywoman Joan Millman’s predecessor, who provided money for an early study. The wishful thinking that a few park concessions, such as a restaurant or two, a marina and boatel, could raise sufficient funds had to be cast aside after the technical infrastructure studies had been done.
    There’s no way around the fact that our previous mayor and governor mandated that new parks must raise funds for maintenance and operations from private sources. This mandate also governs Hudson River Park and Governors Island Park. If you visited Governors Island last year, you would know what damage its shoreline experienced after Sandy. It’s sad, indeed, that the detractors among you are unwilling to step beyond BBP and familiarize themselves with the funding schemes the corporations of these two new parks have had to develop. It’s also sad that you forget that BBP is not complete: Pier 3 and the outer half of Pier 6 as well as the upland portions will yield much more park space.

  • ujh

    DIBS, you’re right – there wouldn’t be a park, no matter what Solovely et al. are arguing.

  • ujh

    Solovely, there’s more that you can’t or don’t want to explain. This “very, very long history” of fighting the housing in the park model is the fight of a well-defined group of residents supported principally by one elected official whose alternate funding concept didn’t materialize, in part because the Watchtower Society didn’t play ball, or had already looked elsewhere for takers of its properties.

  • ujh

    You should know that no view in New York City is protected by law except the fan-shaped view from the BH Promenade. However, its northern line runs through the center of the Brooklyn Bridge, thus excluding the north section of the Pierhouse development on Pier 1. The remainder is capped at 100 feet. The focus of bridal parties for their photo ops has already shifted from the BH Promenade to Pier 1 and the Cove.

  • Solovely

    The park is sitting on $40 million in cash right now (if you are worried about reserves, that’s more than three years of their operating budget). The tax expirations in our press release are a significant amount of money that the Park Corp has not disclosed starting in 2020. The revenues we have painstaking put together in the press release are real – ask the Park Corp, if you don’t believe us.

  • Fritz

    The new buildings are south of BPP1, won’t block anyone’s view of the bridge because BBP1 is already there. However, Pier House already is blocking the view from the Prominade.

  • marshasrimler

    Marty Connor is the villain.He brought us Joanne witty