Historic Districts Council Joins Fray Over Pierhouse View Obstruction

The Brooklyn Paper reports that the Historic Districts Council, an organization with a 44 year history of advocacy for the protection of historic districts, such as Brooklyn Heights, has allied itself with the Brooklyn Heights Association and Save The View Now in their efforts to limit the height of the Pierhouse structure adjacent to Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park in order to conform to an agreement made in 2005-2006 among the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, the BHA, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (the Park’s principal designers) that, in the words of Otis Pratt Pearsall, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of the BHA, provided as follows:

Clearly the hotel (including any mechanicals visible from the Promenade) should not in any circumstance be permitted to exceed the 98 foot [later amended to 100′] roofline of the Cold Storage buildings [which occupied the approximate space where the Pierhouse is being built] without the bulkheads.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has argued that placing mechanicals on the roof of the Pierhouse, a design change made in response to Hurricane Sandy, and raising the base line from which the height of the Pierhouse is measured, are both in accordance with New York City zoning regulations. According to the Brooklyn Paper story, the HDC considers this argument “bunk.”

“The special height cap for this project overrides local zoning,” the Historic District Council statement says. “This means that the rooftop mechanicals are required to fall within the cap, for a total height of 100 feet. Breaching this agreement means a 35 percent taller building, which in turn means the unanticipated blocked views of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.”

The BBPC provided the Brooklyn Paper with this response:

“Pierhouse maintains all officially protected promenade views, is consistent with designs presented to the community to favorable response in 2013,” a Brooklyn Bridge Park spokeswoman said. “[It] will provide critical funding to keep the park safe and well-maintained for millions of visitors for years to come.”

At the conclusion of the recent Community Advisory Council meeting, two CAC members expressed doubt as to whether the “favorable response” to the revised plans was based on complete information; one member, Bill Orme, said it was his understanding that the revised plans, including mechanicals, would respect the 100 foot height limit.

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  • Andrew Porter

    If anyone would like to picket the Pierhouse sales office at the corner of Clark and Hicks, I could be convinced to join them…