The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has provided us with a link to part of the visual presentation that accompanied Park Corporation VP for Real Estate David Lowin’s talk at last Wednesday’s Community Advisory Council meeting.
The presentation shows comparative views (scroll to the bottom) in photos taken in 2008, before the National Cold Storage Warehouse buildings were demolished, and recently, with the “Parcel A” portion of the Pierhouse (at least the northern part of it) topped off. The comparison photos from the Promenade between Montague and Remsen streets show that, in 2008. the warehouse buildings barely obscured the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge from that vantage point, but if the bulkheads on the tallest part were taken away (which the 2005 Agreement sought to exclude from the height limit for any structure built on the site) it would not. The recent photo from the same viewpoint shows the Pierhouse obscuring more of the Bridge vertically than did the warehouse, but opening up some view of the East River and Manhattan to the left, allowing a view of the western anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge. Whether this improvement will be limited once the build out of Parcel B is complete–it is not within the designated SV-1 view plane–remains to be seen. The spire of the Chrysler Building is still visible (Hooray!), as is (alas) the new 432 Park Avenue.
The comparative views from a vantage point on the Promenade at the foot of Pineapple Street show a dramatic difference in the vertical view obstruction (this is what prompted an audience member at the CAC meeting to shout to Mr. Lowin, “Are you embarrassed?”) although again the horizontal view is improved, with the Empire State Building and the old New York Post (now Manhattan Mini Storage) building visible. Again, the build out of Parcel B may affect this. The views from Orange Street (northern end of the Promenade) show little difference in vertical obstruction (considerable in both instances) but a definite improvement in views of the western part of the Bridge. This improvement does not seem likely to be impaired by the completed structure on Parcel B, provided that the 55 foot height limit is observed.
The views from Squibb Park show an unambiguous improvement. With the warehouse, there was no view at all other than a sheer wall. Pierhouse will allow some view through the gap between the buildings on Parcels A and B, where the footbridge runs. What’s unanswered is why that gap, and view, isn’t wider. Save The View Now, in their visual presentation to the CAC, quoted the design guidelines for Parcel A as follows:
Respondents are strongly encouraged to transition in height down to no more than 34’ within 80 feet of the southern courtyard, limiting the height of the southern section of Parcel A, across Furman Street from Squibb Park, in order to protect the views of the East River from Squibb Park.
Evidently strong encouragement didn’t work, as the Parcel A structure maintains, apart from a small setback at the four story level, its full height to its southern end. As STVN points out, this also affects views of the Bridge from the Promenade.