Save The View Now! Meeting Draws Enthusiastic Crowd

They are stealing an American view from the millions who visit every year.–Martin Schneider

When Steven Guterman, organizer of the Save The View Now! campaign quoted these words of a Brooklyn Heights preservation activist who couldn’t be present at today’s organizational meeting, they were greeted enthusiastically by a larger than expected audience. In the photo, Mr. Guterman demonstrates to the meeting how he’s “still five feet seven” while standing on a box, to show how an adjustment to the level from which the height of the Pierhouse structure was to be measured resulted in an increase in the structure’s height sufficient to erase the view of the arc of the Brooklyn Bridge from much of the Promenade. He later raised his arms to show how placing the “mechanicals” (air conditioning, elevator machinery, and the like) to the top of the building blocked even more view, as he said, “Look, I’m still five feet seven!”

The meeting began in a small upstairs room at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. As can be seen from the photo, taken about fifteen minutes after the meeting began, many people were crowded into the hall outside the room, trying to listen. About fifteen minutes later, a member of the Synagogue’s staff came in and invited us to adjourn to the Sanctuary. When we got there, the crowd filled many of the pews.

Mr. Guterman led a lively discussion. He said there were two prongs of action needed. The first is to raise a public outcry against the Pierhouse’s view obstruction. Judging by the over 1,000 signatures on the petition he drew up, and the attendance at this afternoon’s meeting, this is well underway. The second prong is legal action to enforce the provisions of the agreement that was made among the Park’s management, its designers, and the Brooklyn Heights Association in 2005, and the Park’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (the height limit provisions were also included in the 2011 Request for Proposals for development of what is now the Pierhouse site, to which Toll Brothers, the developer, responded).

Mr. Guterman also cautioned against “going off on tangents.” He said this group needs to stay focused on the issue of the Pierhouse’s view obstruction, not other legitimate Park-related concerns such as the high-rise buildings proposed at the entrance to Pier Six.

Mr. Guterman outlined four goals for the group, which are also set forth on the petition:

1) Halt construction immediately until an independent review can take place.

2) Verify that no portion of the residential structure that is currently under construction, including any equipment, utilities or substructures, exceed the 55 foot building envelope specified in the above mentioned 2005 and 2011 documents. This is what the community has been told over and over again and does not represent any change.

3) Remove the portion of the hotel structure that exceeds 100 feet to restore the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade. This is a return to the specification laid out in the 2005 and 2011 documents and what the community agreed to.

4) Set up an architectural review process reporting to the community to review any and all modification to plans that occur in order to ensure that future modifications adhere to the above points.

At the close of the meeting, Mr. Guterman invited those attending to volunteer to work in various capacities for the campaign. Many responded to the invitation. Volunteers are sought to work in these specialties: Social Media; Traditional Media; Content Creation; Graphic Arts; Architecture and Engineering; Legal Strategy; Political Outreach; and Local Outreach. If you are interested in helping in any of these areas, please email

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  • Bill3042

    Good luck, saving the view for future generations to enjoy is so important

  • LDS

    This is so encouraging. I hope the powers that be pay attention.

  • Bialy

    A lot of people complained on this blog inc me several times about that bldg, the stupid tarzan bridge and eyesore that went up on the other side of the bridge. People were aslee at the switch. It was obvious many months ago that this was going to block the view. Now i fear its just too late. Painful lesson to have happen. Lets also notl let any more of these horrible aquariums go up in the area.

  • Doug Biviano

    Steven Guterman and Save the View Now! – we greatly appreciate your work in fighting for our view.

    Sorry I couldn’t make the meeting but I’m happy to contribute in any way (money or time) that I can.

    On a more causal note (sorry for going off on a tangent), the bottom line of what happened with our view is exactly what I campaigned about, that is, your elected officials and their special interests have completely cut you and our community out of vital neighborhood decisions.

    The few voters remaining keep voting in the same type of elected official and expect a different outcome. We see this with LICH, the Brooklyn Heights Public Library, Condos at Pier 6, PS8 overcrowding, etc., that is, an elected class that make some mild and nuanced ruckus for the cameras then quietly get out of the way of developers or even usher in these kinds of projects and zoning changes, often on a silver platter RFP. These politicians use the same consultants/PR machines to get elected as developers or are cozy with the Kings County Democratic Party, both working against our neighborhoods (LICH and BPL with Seddio/Carone and Simon and Berlin Rosen with Levin, Squadron, Lander and de Blasio). These politicians are simply not working in our interest. Their relationships tell volumes and can precisely predict an outcome. The harm to us is almost never ending.

    The moral of the story is to truly participate in your democracy, carefully vet and support candidates for elected office and throw out bums who sell out their neighborhoods. They should only get one chance. Elected officials hold enormous power and can fight or prevent this harm to communities if they really want to.

    The other thing to consider is real hard hitting press that reports these matters before it’s too late. I consider the BHB a vital resource for our community and would support it, particularly financially if the blog ever asked. I also consider vitally important and a great case in point. True News’ Gary Tilzer — a true fighter for the reform movement — is at the verge of ending his blog because he can no longer financially sustain his commitment. Please contribute to the True News blog because without any scrutiny, you see what our politicians can and will do to our communities, parks and institutions. True News gets a lot of traffic so if anyone can help Gary monetize the blog that would be just as helpful.

  • Roberto Gautier

    Congratulations to Steve and those who support a sane response to the Toll Brothers’ not so obvious attempt to violate the height restriction on their property. It’s clear that the developers are pushing the limits on Pierhouse. Let’s see how the “powers that be” stand with Steve et al. Bravissimo for concerned citizenry!

  • Yikes

    Please go jump in the river. Even when you’re right you’re wrong.

  • littlestbird

    Brooklyn Bridge Park Dev Corp says height is legal:

    Additionally, some have incorrectly suggested that Pierhouse, which occupies the former site of the dilapidated Cold Storage Warehouses, contravenes the Special Scenic View District protected in the New York City Zoning Resolution. At no point does Pierhouse pierce the view plane.

    Pierhouse, which will generate significant revenue needed to fund long-term park maintenance, is fully permitted under New York City Building Code and fully complies with the park’s 2005 General Project Plan.

    Regina Myer

    The author is president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

  • AnnOfOrange

    Would be interesting to identify Heights residents who have purchased Pier House apartments.

  • gc

    I’d be very interested to know the details of the revenue sharing arrangements that will help support the park. Can you share those details with us?

  • littestbird

    unlike the expiring PILOTs abatements which can be determined thur NYC Finance (for OBBP for example) we only know about the revenue sharing agreement “above a certain profits threshold” because the Park Corp has told us it exists.. they have kept this private to my knowledge.. David Lowin has said it isn’t “in the money” or is “too speculative” to disclose… this potential future revenue stream to the park. It is part of our request for more transparency regarding the park’s finances… esp the future revenue streams beyond 2020. We are talking millions of dollars in future revenue.. ongoing financial disclosure in a detail consistent format for year over year apples to apples comparison — is a MUST. My heart… and so many members of the community, believe the park is funded… and pier 6 should be park space… for everyone to play… !! and a welcoming entrance to a grand park .. connecting north and south entrances… let’s do it!! xo. Lori

  • StoptheChop

    Isn’t is amazing- candidate deBlasio pledged to review the “if you want a park you have to pay for it” Bloombergian fiat that was issued to our neighborhood when we were advocating for BBP in the first place. Now, Mayor deBlasio won’t even talk to other elected officials or to community advocates about the for-profit development happening there, and they’re also treated quite disrespectfully by the BBPC as well. But asking about financial transparency; treating our communities as stakeholders with a legitimate voice; and assessing whether the Park development/programming costs actually make sense are all reasonable and rationale —- as is pushing back against the impact of allowing Toll Brothers to overbuild (what good does the BBPC’s knee-jerk defensive, pro-developer response do, anyway?)

    Just wait til the Empire Stores shopping mall opens, plus the Pier 6 31-story luxury highrise. Since we’re clearly supposed to just shut up and go away…..

  • A Neighbor

    Start with at least two BBPC board members.

  • Doug Biviano

    This reminds me of Richard Pryor’s classic line, “Who are you going to believe … [Regina Myer] or your lying eyes?” or just insert any politician into the [brackets].

  • Avery

    …”since we’re clearly supposed to just shut up and go away” precisely! at least one person on this blog understands the big picture.
    The park was not built for the old residents of Brooklyn Heights who are on their way out. It was built for the new people who will buy and invest in the City. You do not have to be a financial genius to figure that out.

  • Doug Biviano

    This sounds like typical “family values” in what America has become. Yes the role of all of us in any community anywhere, especially seniors, is to make way and pay for the infrastructure for others to come into our neighborhoods, reshape/overbuild them and drive us “left-overs” out. Actually sounds like Affordable Housing as we know it. -signed one day/one job away from being driven out of NYC like so many others no matter the roots we put down.

  • avery

    doug, you are babbling. you make no sense. You know that right?

  • Doug Biviano

    Enjoy your new view Avery.

  • gc

    It’s going to take people literally standing in front of this hotel and condo site to make any difference at all. We are actually going to have to throw our bodies in front of the real estate machine in order to succeed. The economic impact of full time protests in front of an operating hotel and condo would probably make a difference. Are there really enough people willing to make that kind of commitment? Anything short of that will be swept away by the real estate interests and their political toadies.

  • StoptheChop

    So– existing community residents aren’t legitimate stakeholders in land use issues? Why not? Even when those residents were the force behind the creation of BBP?

  • R.O.Shipman

    What legal remedies exist to stop this? The goals expressed above are all well and good, but how will they be achieved? From everything I’ve read, there doesn’t seem to be any illegal action. Shady? Yes. Illegal? No. There’s no zoning violations or such that could give the government cause to rip out the extra floors to a preferred height. If there is something, I’d be happy to hear it, but at this point I don’t see it. And the fact that this has already been done means that Courts are going to be very hesitant to stop it. Courts will weigh the costs to private individuals and corporations associated with an injunction or ordering the partial demolition against any technical violation and probably side with the private individuals.

    The shame of it all is that they added floors to move mechanicals to the roof at the same time/shortly before it became clear that all the proposed development near pier 6 would not be needed. They could have cut a couple floors from the development of the pier 1 developments and maintained the full pier 6 development without risking the funding to the park. The trade off would then have been some low-income housing for a precious view. I wish everyone had been on top of things when the decision to move the mechanicals was made, and then this common sense solution could have been put into action.

  • ujh

    You should consider that the NYC zoning code was changed after Hurricane Sandy, which thus superseded earlier agreements. Show us one developer who voluntarily removes floors from his project to adjust an earlier plan which can no longer be realized.

  • richard sharkey

    How do you have time for all this blather? Not to mention advertising, too. Please get an editor.

  • richard sharkey

    Yeah, let’s string ’em up from the bouncy bridge? How do PH owners have anything to do with the construction height? Haven’t noticed any Wall Street execs or stay-at-home moms on the construction crew, but maybe they just blend in…

  • R.O.Shipman

    I was speaking more from the Park’s angle. The Park only cares that there is sufficient funding, not the size of any one building. The Park has said that they don’t need the full scope of development near Pier 6 to fund the park, thus the inclusion of affordable housing. If that decision could have been made at the same time zoning rules forced the mechanicals onto the roof of Pier 1, the RFP for Pier 1 development could have been adjusted downward while maintaining the original plan with respect to Pier 6.

    Maybe there is some reason that couldn’t have worked. I was just brainstorming. Did Sandy occur after the RFP issued, was accepted and contracts signed? That could have prevented a change in development rights. Maybe a smaller scale development at Pier 1 wouldn’t have brought in proportionately as much money.

  • ShinyNewHandle

    As I know someone mentioned before, any governmental zoning change does not give a developer the right to ignore an agreement with a third party. The loss in floors, and hence in profitablilty, is the developer’s bad luck. (I have no sympathy for bad luck that has come from building a behemoth in a flood zone.)

  • ml77

    This. Unless BHA’s agreement with the developer was formalized legally, then there’s nothing to be done. A lesson for the next time one of these agreements is made: they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on if they’re not legally binding.