The Eagle reports that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s Board of Directors voted 12-4 to proceed with the construction of two residential towers on the landward side of Pier six, near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance. The dissenting votes were by City Council Member Steve Levin; Zeeshan Ott, representing State Senator Daniel Squadron; Michael Stinson, representing State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon; and Matthew Wing, formerly Governor Cuomo’s Press Secretary and now employed by Uber, who, according to the Eagle story, “complained throughout the meeting that the board had never been fully informed about the plan and that community input had been limited.”
The board’s action was also taken despite letters from Senator Squadron and from City Comptroller Scott Stringer urging it to defer action and to confer further with community representatives about, among other things, the stress the new buildings and their residents would put on local infrastructure, such as schools, health care, and transportation.
The State of New York, acting through the Empire State Development Corporation, had earlier refused to act on BBPC’s request to approve a modification to the Park’s General Project Plan to allow changes, including the addition of an affordable housing component. Nevertheless, shortly before the meeting the ESDC issued a letter that, according to the Eagle, “appeared to give its blessing to the project – or at least not stand in its way.”
Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and chair of the BBPC board, is quoted in the Eagle as saying at the meeting: “Construction costs continue to rise; changes have been made to the design. If the board fails to move forward, we could lose the benefit to the park and lose a developer committed to union labor.” Community groups opposing the towers have argued that the projected revenue from them is not necessary, given the existing and projected revenues from other projects whose revenues support the park, to meet the park’s maintenance needs. In an earlier Eagle piece, BBPC President Regina Myer said the City’s Department of Finance had reviewed and rejected the community groups’ financial projections, and concluded that revenue from the Pier six towers was essential to assuring the park’s continuing upkeep.
Contention over this matter appears likely to continue in court. The Eagle quotes “a source within the Brooklyn Heights Association” as saying “the group is preparing to initiate a lawsuit to test the lawfulness of the BBPC’s action.”