Park Board OKs Pier Six Towers; Litigation Looms

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.”

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  • Arch Stanton

    So in other words, all the board members that represent the local community voted NO.

  • redlola

    yep. thanks mayor diblasio and the tools who do your bidding.

  • SSBK

    Yes, that’s a clear indication of a NIMBY issue. The Mayor (democratically elected by the whole city) pushes a project forward that betters the city. The local politicians vote against it to protect their constituents who don’t like new buildings and affordable housing near them.

  • Thomas

    They helpfully opened comments after the vote was recorded.

    Nobody is against affordable housing — but it’s not the mandate. And the estimated 100+ elementary aged kids who will be added to school zone means Brooklyn Heights will be first neighborhood in Brooklyn to be basically unzoned. Your kid will be assigned a school in D13. Maybe PS8 – or just as likely a school in Clinton Hill or by the Navy Yard. The rezoning of dumbo helped but the school still has those siblings for years to come and it’s at 700 kids in a school that has a “max capacity” of 488.

    Nobody on that panel last night looked past the power point they were shown. They were told there are plenty of zoned seats — but by “zoned” they meant district 13 not the PS8 zone.

  • SongBirdNYC

    I completely agree with you Thomas. This is not about NIMBY but lack of infrastructure planning for an ever-growing population. But to clarify, it’s not that the new kids at Pier 6 would be “unzoned.” They would be zoned for PS8, just like Pier One is. But eventually between this development, the Jehovah’s Witness’ buildings, the Bklyn Law School dorm-all projects that will become residential- there would be another wait list at PS 8 and a placement lottery for K seats. Kids not placed at PS8 would be given a K seat within D13, likely at 307 or eventually 287. The closest elementary school to Pier 6 is not actually in D13, but D15. That would be PS 29 (which has its own overcrowding to contend with). A little farther afield are 261 and 58. PS 58 had it’s own Kindergarten wait list last year. But, if you live outside a school district, your child is given the lowest priority within the lottery regardless of distance from the school. There is definitely a movement toward “choice” in D13 but it has been in relation to Middle School admissions, not K-5. On the bright side, the School Construction Authority has finally gotten with the program and is planning to construct 3 new elementary schools in D13.

  • Thomas

    Oh, I have a decade+ experience with the ps 8 zone. Pier 6 is def zoned for 8. I meant what happens when 250 kids apply for K seats. It becomes a defacto unzoned area. And, sadly, geography has nothing to do with where the kids will be placed. They’ll be placed in the 8 schools (PS and IS) in Sub-district 2/CSD 13.

    You can look up the BBPD tech memorandum about this issued in 11/14. The PS8 PTA issued a great (already dated) memo of it’s own not long after which can be found on their site. There’s a map there of sub district 2

    Lastly, the CEC has talked about dezoning D13 for a long time. Was even talked about in general PTA meetings at PS8 (though perhaps not this year). Seth talked about parents camping outside the school – ha. D1 was dezoned some years back and the city considers that a success.

  • Ella Mentry

    It’s true that board members who represent local elected officials voted no. But it would be wrong to ignore the fact that several board members who actually live in the community (and have for a long time) voted yes. This includes Gutman, Witty, Ashkenazi, Merkel, Hyman and Vinicombe. That is 6 out of the 12 “yes” votes. This seems to indicate to me that many people who live in this community actually support this project, though they may be less vocal than the opponents. I think painting this as the City vs the
    neighborhood is inaccurate. It is more complicated and nuanced than that.

  • SongBirdNYC

    I will consider myself officially “schooled!” Thanks for the additional info and PS8 history.

  • Arch Stanton

    Perhaps so, but what other interests do those who voted yes have in the project…

  • Arch Stanton

    What is clear is you don’t know what you are talking about. “Affordable Housing” is just another scam to usurp public land for private development as is the entirety of the BBP operation, the theft of LICH, and the BPL….

  • Jorale-man

    Exactly. The “affordable housing” part is a red herring. And if the city government decided to build skyscrapers in Central Park, would nearby residents who protested also be called “NIMBY?”

  • gatornyc

    Your example fails considering that Central Park was never created on the premise that it be self-funded. Whether you agree with the premise or not, BBP was.

  • joey_c

    bbp is “a scam to usurp public land”?

    before they made bbp, that land was literally useless for the public. now we have splendid new facilities. the new housing developments are what pay for the ongoing upkeep expenses of the park, which are sizable.

  • joey_c

    that’s a bit of an overstatement – new housing construction needs to go forward only when additional infrastructure is in place to deal with additional residents, as stringer noted. if the transit/health/public safety needs of the new residents will tax the existing level of service provision, then new infrastructure needs to accompany the new housing. the problem here is that bbp’s board doesn’t have to worry about these infrastructure issues, their main concern is funding the park.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    To be clear, I am under the impression that the Watchtower building will be commercial. I’m not sure about the other buildings–obviously some will be residential, but will the influx of new residents to those buildings be enough to create as dramatic an increase on the PS8 burden as, say, a brand new tower development?

    It’s starting to look as though at any rate this neighborhood is going to need another PK-6th provision, and it’s going to need to be good enough that those who chose Brooklyn Heights as an investment feel they’re getting their money’s worth in local amenities.

    Meanwhile, I wouldn’t mind a more convenient way to zip down to Red Hook, although personally I avoid northern Brooklyn because hordes of attractive young singles make me extremely uncomfortable, and I’d rather they were given an easy way to get directly to Hoboken than to my front door.

  • Slyone

    There are currently 3 elementary schools of around 500+ seats each “funded” in the School Construction Authority’s Capital Plan for this area (of course, “this area” is pretty broad — stretches from Brooklyn Heights through downtown Brooklyn to Clinton Hill (PS11)) — acknowledged as “needed” in the next 5 years. But they’re not sited. I don’t know who the best person to send location ideas is, but you could try CB2 ( or the D13 CEC ( Most direct woudl be someone at the School Construction Authority, but I’ve never figured out who that person is (or those persons are).

  • Diesel

    Heh, the Kool-Aid tastes good, don’t it?
    The developers been refining that flavor for over 30 years. The first plan was to build condos along the entire BH waterfront they even had the gall to try and change the protected view plain from the Promenade, when that didn’t fly they proposed low rise condos for the piers, but that wouldn’t be profitable enough… So they came up with the master sham. get the land for all but free, get public funds to help construction of a “park” (free landscaping). and in return they would get to build a hotel and condos, Wait in return for what? No taxes going back into the community but instead being used to provide (grossly inflated) maintenance for the hotel/condo grounds.
    Take a good sip, ah…

  • StudioBrooklyn

    A while ago I heard that “affordable” was being used by de Blasio and co-conspirators as a marketing term for units that would in fact be totally off limits to families anywhere near the median income level. Sorry that I don’t have evidence on hand to substantiate this rumor, maybe someone else does? At any rate it smacks of unfairness that this might be used to paint our neighborhood as comprising a group of elitist, classist, racist pieces-of-feces.

  • joey_c

    (a) 30 years ago was 1985. nobody was trying to live on the waterfront in ’85.
    (b) “(grossly inflated) maintenance for the hotel/condo grounds”
    want to come with some evidence that the hardworking people of the parks department and the city o.m.b. are incompetent and can’t recognize inflated quotes, or would you prefer to admit that you’re just flinging baseless accusations?

    (c) as for a master sham, well, it’s clear that you’ve never been to that park. it is a delightful facility, and to dismiss it as “landscaping” demonstrates how silly you are. if you think enjoying triple-digit hours of entertainment and recreation in a facility that otherwise would not exist somehow entails being suckered into “drinking the kool aid” i don’t know what to tell you.

  • Diesel

    A. You are wrong. The Port Authority decided to sell that section of waterfront in 1984, the first proposals for condo development came shortly after.
    B. LOL, The Police Department is corrupt, You don’t think the parks department can’t be bought?
    C. I have been to the park many times, yes its nice but the ends does not justify the means, unless You like Kool-Aid.