Brooklyn Heights Blog » Legal Dispatches from America's first suburb Sat, 09 Dec 2017 17:15:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Another Court Hearing on Pier Six Towers Tomorrow Afternoon Mon, 13 Nov 2017 17:14:27 +0000

Cobble Hill community activist Judi Francis has alerted us to another, and probably final, court hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, November 14, on the action brought by the Brooklyn Heights Association to prevent further construction (some work has already begun; at a previous hearing the judge refused to grant a temporary restraining order, but issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the developers from doing anything that can’t easily be undone should the court’s final decision go against them) of the proposed high rise residential towers on two parcels of land near Pier Six and the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Since then, a new judge has taken over the case, and at the immediately previous hearing she appeared to be receptive to the case being made by the BHA, urging the parties to seek compromise.

From Ms. Francis:

While always difficult to win an Article 78 [the type of proceeding the BHA has had to institute], we have a strong case, and after 13 years of near complete disregard for the needs of the community (i.e, school overcrowding, no new parklands despite the huge increase in residential population never studied in the park’s original EIS, violations of the Promenade’s view plane by gross overbuilding of the Pierhouses, and admitting they do not need the funds from this housing for the park’s maintenance), the city remains immovable and unwilling to consider alternatives to their housing plan. The city seems to have forgotten that the purpose of this project was to build a park for the recreational needs of residents that are here today, not a housing complex.

The hearing will begin at 2:45 PM at the New York Supreme Courthouse, 80 Centre Street in Manhattan, in the courtroom of Justice Carmen St. George. As Justice St. George has shown interest in the community involvement in this case, Ms. Francis is urging anyone who can to attend.

]]> 2
Hearing on Pier Six Towers Thursday Morning Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:07:44 +0000

The next step in the litigation brought by the Brooklyn Heights Association to prevent construction of two high rise residential towers near Pier Six and the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park will take place this coming Thursday morning, November 2, at 9:30, at the New York Supreme Court, New York County, 80 Centre Street, Room 308, in Manhattan. The hearing will be before Justice Carmen St. George, who has replaced Justice Lucy Billings on the case because Justice Billings was assigned other duties.

Opponents of the proposed towers are encouraging all members of the public who can to attend the hearing.

]]> 15
Oral Arguments in Save the View Now’s Suit Against Pierhouse in Brooklyn Heights Friday Wed, 18 Oct 2017 03:17:20 +0000

Oral arguments in the appeal of the lower court’s dismissal of Save the View Now’s suit to remedy the Pierhouse’s interference with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the protected view plane from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade will be held this Friday, October 20, at the Appellate Division Courthouse, 45 Monroe Place, corner of Pierrepont. The time of the hearing isn’t known, but Save the View urges supporters to arrive at the courthouse by 10:30 AM but be prepared to wait. Save the View’s Steven Guterman says it’s important for the judges to know that there’s community support for their effort.

]]> 7
Kushner Companies Sued Over Alleged Rent Violations At 89 Hicks Wed, 16 Aug 2017 03:41:13 +0000

Curbed reports that tenants at 89 Hicks Street (photo), which the Kushner Companies bought from Brooklyn Law School, which had used it as a dormitory, in 2014, are suing because they claim the new owners

waged a “deceptive, systematic and pervasive pattern of misconduct to skirt rent stabilization laws,” and may have bilked tenants out of as much as $1 million in rent overcharges.

The suit was brought following an investigation of the Kushner Companies’ practices concerning rent stabilization requirements by Housing Rights Initiative, a non-profit organization that “systematically and proactively investigate[s] rent fraud in rent stabilized buildings and connect[s] tenants to legal support.”

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, was previously CEO of the Kushner Companies. He resigned when he assumed his present position as Senior White House Advisor.

Photo: N*ked Apartments.

]]> 0
Update On Pier Six Towers: New Justice Takes Over Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:19:32 +0000

Our last report on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the developers to prevent the construction of two high rise residential towers on the uplands of Pier Six noted that Justice Lucy Billings had orally declined to issue a temporary restraining order requested by the BHA to prevent any construction work until the court issues its decision in the case. Nevertheless, Justice Billings warned that any construction done prior to the court’s decision was at the developers’ peril, as the court could decide not to allow it to proceed. The BHA has advised us that Justice Billings has now issued a written version of her earlier oral order, noting that the developers and their contractors should not undertake anything “that is irreversible or incapable of restoration to its original condition” until the court issues its decision.

The Justice also noted in her written order that she had declined to issue the TRO requested by the BHA for several reasons. One of these, noted in our earlier post, is that she did not consider the noise from pile driving to be “irreparable harm” required to justify a TRO. While perhaps not “irreparable,” the noise has aroused some strong complaints from parents whose kids use nearby playgrounds, as The Brooklyn Paper reports. The Justice’s written order further notes that it was based on “the lack of a convincing showing that petitioner [the BHA] is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims.”

Justice Billings also advised the litigants that she has been assigned new duties, and as a consequence, the case will now be given over to Justice Carmen St. George. She said that Justice St. George’s decision would not be affected by whatever construction is done between now and when the decision is issued.

]]> 1
Library Site Developer Sued Over Commission Fri, 04 Aug 2017 03:05:08 +0000

The Real Deal reports that real estate private equity bankers Carlton Group are suing Hudson Companies, developers, on the site of the former Brooklyn Heights Branch Library, of the high rise residential and commercial building that will include a new branch library on its ground and lower floors. Carlton’s suit alleges that Hudson failed to pay $2.2 million in commissions owed for arranging financing for the new building. The Real Deal story quotes a Hudson spokesman as saying the case is without merit.

]]> 1
Judge Nixes BHA Request; Pier 6 Developers May Proceed At Own Risk Until Final Ruling Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:37:27 +0000

The Eagle reports that today New York Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings denied the Brooklyn Heights Association’s motion for a temporary restraining order to keep the developers of the two proposed high rise residetial towers near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park from beginning construction before the August 4 hearing, at which Judge Billings will consider the merits of the BHA’s suit to permanently enjoin their construction. That suit is based on the theory that the revenue from the two proposed towers is not needed to fund the Park’s maintenance needs.

The BHA’s request for a TRO noted that the earliest phase of construction would involve driving of long steel piles into the ground (see photo of pile driver poised for action at Pier Six site), which would generate noise that would make nearby playgrounds unusable and seriously affect residents of nearby buildings. Judge Billings’ response was, “It’s noise”; meaning it doesn’t meet the standard of “immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damages” required under New York law to issue a TRO. Nevertheless, she warned the developers that any work undertaken before she rules on the merits of the BHA’s case is done at their risk, as she may yet decide that they may not proceed with the construction of the two towers.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

]]> 5
Down to the Wire on Pier Six Towers Wed, 19 Jul 2017 02:04:17 +0000

As we noted in an earlier post, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the developer announced their intention to begin construction of the two proposed residential towers on the Pier Six uplands, near the foot of Atlantic Avenue, on July 19, which is tomorrow. This was one day after a scheduled court hearing on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s proceeding to enjoin construction of the towers because the projected income from them is not needed to fund park maintenance. When the BBPC and developer made their announcement, the BHA moved for a temporary restraining order to prevent any start to construction until after the court renders its decision on the merits of the BHA’s petition. That motion was to be considered today, along with the merits of the proceeding, but the court postponed the hearing until August 4.

The BHA responded by asking the judge to prohibit the start of construction until after August 4. The judge agreed to have a hearing on that motion at noon on this Thursday, July 20. The BBPC and developers would not agree to refrain from construction activities during the period before the Thursday hearing, but said no pile driving will be done during that time. The BHA has noted that the first stage of construction for both towers will involve the driving of more than 400 steel piles ninety feet into the ground; a process that will take ten weeks. The BHA fears that “the intense noise of the pile driving activity will make the Pier 6 children’s play areas virtually unusable this summer, and will also be intrusive for other Park visitors and nearby residents.”

]]> 3
BHA States Case on Pier Six Towers in Court Hearing Sun, 11 Jun 2017 03:25:59 +0000

The Brookyn Paper reports that, at a hearing in Judge Lucy Billings’ Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday, counsel for the Brooklyn Heights Association stated their case against the proposed two high rise residential buildings in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the landward side of Pier Six, near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance. Counsel argued that construction of the buildings would violate the park’s commitment not to build any more housing on park land than is necessary to fund park maintenance. Judge Billings expressed some doubt about whether the wording of the park’s 2006 General Project Plan was tight enough to commit the park not to allow any more residential construction than is absolutely necessary. She also showed interest in the findings of the BHA’s financial expert, who argues that the park’s projections of income from existing development are more than adequate to meet the park’s financial needs. Finally, the park’s and developers’ counsel conceded that the park violated its own rules in selecting the developers for the proposed high rises before the developers filed required paperwork with the city.

The park and developers will state their case at a hearing before Judge Billings in July.

]]> 2
Pier Six Settlement Talks Fail; BHA’s Lawsuit Continues Fri, 28 Apr 2017 02:38:35 +0000

The Eagle reports that settlement talks between the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and the Brooklyn Heights Association, along with other community representatives, have failed. This comes as no surprise, as both sides have been adamant in their demands: the BHA and its allies for more green space on the Pier Six uplands and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation for two residential high rise buildings on that space in order to generate revenue the BBPC claims is needed to fund park maintenance in the future.

The Eagle story quotes a BHA statement as saying the “next step will be an argument … on the merits of the lawsuit on June 7th or 9th.”

]]> 2
BHA Issues “Fake News Alert” About Pier Six Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:57:31 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has issued a notice under the headline “Pier 6 Rumors Have No Factual Basis.” This is in reaction to rumors it has heard in response to Judge Lucy Billings’ order to the BHA and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation that they have “dialogue” in an effort to reach a compromise on the issue of housing on the Pier Six uplands. Because settlement negotiations are, by court order, held in confidence, there has been, the BHA said, speculation that it “is entering into a ‘secret deal’ that would somehow harm some of our neighbors.” The BHA responded:

We are writing to reassure everyone that those rumors have no basis in fact. The BHA has not and would not enter into any resolution of the Pier 6 issues without consulting with our community and we have consistently said just that to the Court and to the respondents, i.e., the other party.

The BHA added that, to assure community representation in the negotiations, it had persuaded the court that “we could expand the confidentiality tent to include the two community leaders with whom we have worked most closely from the beginning of this case.” In conclusion, it said, “no one should have any concern that we would enter into any resolution without input from our community.”

]]> 9
Pier Six Towers Court Hearing Set for Wednesday, April 12 Thu, 06 Apr 2017 03:01:25 +0000

The already twice delayed hearing on the Brooklyn Heights Association’s lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to prevent the construction of two high rise residential towers on the Pier Six uplands, near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance, is now scheduled for this coming Wednesday afternoon, April 12, at 2:30, at the New York State Supreme Court, 71 Thomas Street, in Manhattan, before Justice Lucy Billings.

]]> 1
Pier Six Lawsuit Hearing Postponed Again Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:16:16 +0000

We’ve just received word from the Brooklyn Heights Association that the hearing on the BHA’s lawsuit to enjoin construction of two high rise residential buildings on the uplands of Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park has been postponed for a second time. The hearing was originally scheduled for March 7, then postponed to tomorrow (Wednesday, March 22). It has now been postponed until an unspecified date in April because of a trial this week having been assigned to the judge, The Hon. Lucy Billings.

We will let you know when a specific date, as well as time and place, have been established.

]]> 3
Park Corporation, BHA Trade Punches Over Pier 6 Development Sat, 11 Mar 2017 20:27:28 +0000

We previously noted that the Brooklyn Heights Association, citing new information from the City’s Department of Finance concerning valuation of existing properties on park land, was going forward with its lawsuit to prevent construction of two residential towers near Pier Six and the Atlantic Avenue entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Curbed now reports that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has responded with a post on the Park’s website and a February 28 letter to the court. The Curbed story says the BBPC’s interim President, David Lowin, maintains that “the numbers BHA drew from only represent one year of incomplete valuations, and don’t present enough data to project a conservative 50-year financial plan for the park.”

The BHA has since replied with a post to its “News” webpage that links to its March 7 letter to the court disputing, among other things, the BBPC’s claim that BHA has misinterpreted the City’s valuations and their significance. In addition, the BHA has circulated an e-mail in which it notes:

In addition, the BHA lawsuit contains many other challenges to the Pier 6 development, including the failure of the BBPC to consider the environmental impact of the proposed project in light of changed economic conditions and increased school overcrowding in the more than ten years since the last environmental review, as well as the procedural flaws in its decision making process. None of those claims are rebutted in the [BBPC’s] Update.

A hearing on the BHA’s motion to enjoin BBPC from proceeding with the Pier Six residential development is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22. We will give further details when available.

]]> 0
New Info Breathes Life into Effort to Block Pier Six Towers Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:24:39 +0000

New information from the City’s Department of Finance has revived efforts by the Brooklyn Heights Association and other local activists to block construction of two residential towers on Brooklyn Bridge Park land near Pier Six and the foot of Atlantic Avenue, as reported by Lauren Gill in the Brooklyn Paper. As we noted last June, the BHA was prepared to litigate the issue of whether the towers were necessary to meet the Park’s continuing financial needs. According to the Brooklyn Paper story, the Department of Finance has found that existing developments, such as the Pierhouse hotel and condo complex, stand to produce $300 million more in revenue for the Park than originally projected. The story quotes Judi Francis, a Cobble Hill resident and long time opponent of the Pier Six development, as saying, “We knew that we were right and big surprise, we were right.” The story then quotes David Lowin, interim president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, as saying, “We have repeatedly made clear the necessity and merits of this project, and look forward to responding to the BHA’s erroneous claims in court.”

]]> 6
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at St. Francis February 2 Mon, 16 Jan 2017 04:33:56 +0000

On Thursday afternoon, February 2, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be at Founders Hall, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, as part of the College’s Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series. She will be joined for conversation by her former law clerk, Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2002 St. Francis graduate. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.; everyone is asked to be seated by 1:15 and the program will begin at 1:30 promptly. Security will be tight, so please don’t bring backpacks or large bags. Admission is free, but you must have a ticket; they may be obtained by e-mailing or calling 718-489-5372.

Given the President-Elect’s ambitious announced starting schedule, by the time of this event someone may have been nominated to take the place of the late Justice Scalia and join Justice Sotomayor on the Court. This may lead to interesting conversation.

Photo: public domain, via Wikipedia.

]]> 5
Henry St. Ale House to Pharma Bro: Take It Somewhere Else Sun, 16 Oct 2016 01:42:59 +0000

Did anyone walk by Cadman Plaza yesterday and get an icky feeling all over? That’s because Martin Shkreli, aka the Pharma Bro, was stinking up the Eastern District federal courthouse. And what does Pharma Bro do after a hearing on his securities fraud case that could land him in federal lockup for many a years? Tweet to his “fans” to meet him for happy hour at the nearest neighborhood bar, of course.

But, our very own Henry St. Ale House was having none of it. CNBC was the first to report the twitter shut-down by the Ale House of the “fan meet-up” that was planned there. Here’s the twitter exchange:




The Ale House’s manager told CNBC, “We’re a small place, and we operate a restaurant. We’re not a big bar. This has nothing to do with politics, but this is a controversial figure. We’re a low-key place, we needed advance notice.”

So, you’re asking – Pharma Bro has fans? Apparently, yes. And Gothamist reports that one even called for a boycott of the Ale House.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 6.41.58 PM

Oh, thank you, WineNot. Please do get yourself and all of your kind to boycott and never step foot in our Ale House.

Next BHB meet-up at the Ale House? All in favor, say aye.

Update: After being turned away from Henry Street, Shkreli tweeted that the meetup would be at Brooklyn Public House, 247 DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene. Instinct reports that the owner of Brooklyn Public responded by tweeting that the price of all drinks was being increased by 5,000% (the same percentage by which Shkreli increased the price of an AIDS drug).

]]> 14
Court Nixes “Save The View” Suit; Brooklyn Bridge Park Seeks Venue Change for Pier 6 Litigation Mon, 01 Aug 2016 03:40:29 +0000

Curbed reports that the court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Save The View Now and the Brooklyn Heights Association against the Brooklyn Bridge park Corporation, the City of New York, and the developers of Pierhouse, claiming that a penthouse on the southern part of Pierhouse illegally infringed on the protected view plane from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The suit was dismissed on the same grounds as was an earlier one brought by Save The View Now; that it was brought after the statute of limitations on government action had expired. The court also said the later suit’s allegations duplicated ones made in the earlier one. The dismissal of the earlier suit is now on appeal; an appeal of the latest decision is possible.

Moving to the southern (Pier 6) front, the Brooklyn Heights Association has updated us about the suit they brought early in July against the BBPC, various government entities, and the developers who have been selected to build the residential towers proposed there. First, the judge has ruled that construction of the towers cannot begin before December 1, with a minimum of three weeks’ notice before it begins. (Update: The BHA and BBPC have now advised us that this schedule was established by agreement among the parties, including BHA, BBPC, and the developers.) Following the filing of papers by the parties according to an announced schedule, arguments in the case are to be held on or after November 10. Meanwhile, the BBPC has moved to have the proceedings removed from the court in Manhattan where they are now pending to one in Brooklyn. Perhaps BBPC believes, based on the fate so far of the Save The View cases, that they will find a more sympathetic forum on this side of the East River.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

]]> 26
U.S. Attorney Probing de Blasio Role in LICH Sale Tue, 26 Jul 2016 22:25:55 +0000

The Daily News and Post are reporting that Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney known for his crackdown on political corruption, has–according to “two sources” cited in the Daily News story–subpoenaed from State University of New York, previous owner of Long Island College Hospital, “all communications between the university system and City Hall regarding the sale of LICH dating to Jan. 2, 2014, when [Mayor Bill] de Blasio took office.”

It also seeks all communication regarding the hospital dating to 2013 between SUNY and de Blasio’s campaign and his fundraiser Ross Offinger, as well as various groups tied to the mayor such as the Campaign For One New York, UPKNYC, and United for Affordable NYC, the sources said.

The Post story cites a July 15 letter by Joseph Porter, Senior Vice Chancellor of SUNY, seen by the Post, indicating that Bharara’s office “has now cast a wide net for evidence of possible malfeasance in SUNY’s $240 million sale of LICH to Fortis.”

Thanks to BHB reader “Remsen Street Dweller” for alerting us to this.

]]> 4
Court Dismisses Library Lawsuit Tue, 12 Jul 2016 02:33:08 +0000

The Eagle reports that New York State Supreme Court Justice Dawn Jiminez-Salta dismissed a suit by community group Love Libraries, Inc., headed by local resident Marsha Rimler, that sought to enjoin demolition of the existing Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and its replacement with a high rise residential and commercial building that would house a new library branch in part of its lower floors. Justice Jimenez-Salta ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims that the city’s environmental review of the project’s impact on traffic, noise, air quality, and shadows lacked merit because the city demonstrated that the review “took a hard look at areas of environmental concern and contained reasoned elaborations of its conclusions.” She also ruled that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations.

The Eagle story quotes city spokesperson Austin Finan: “We are pleased that the court recognized that this suit had no merit. Now, a project that has undergone extensive public review, which will include a number of benefits to the community including more affordable housing, can proceed.” The Eagle tried to contact the attorney for Love Libraries, Inc. but, as of publication of the story, had received no response. A source close to the matter told your correspondent that he believes an appeal is likely.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB.

]]> 38
BHA Files Suit to Stop Pier 6 Towers Fri, 08 Jul 2016 02:16:56 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association announced on its website today that, as previously indicated was their intention, they have fled suit to prevent the construction of two residential towers near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance and Pier 6. The suit names as defendants the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, other government entities involved, and the developers of the proposed buildings. BHA is asking the court to “annul the BBPC’s June 7th decision to build two huge towers on Pier 6 – more than 400,000 square feet – near Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street.” It also seeks to compel the Empire State Development Corporation, one of the government defendants, to “require an updated environmental review due to the considerable changes throughout the area since an earlier review in 2005.” More from the BHA presser:

The BHA, other community groups, and local elected officials have strongly advocated that this land instead be used as parkland and that the long-promised Atlantic Avenue entrance to the Park be created.

According to BHA President Patrick Killackey, “the BBPC is violating the fundamental commitment on which the BHA and the community supported the Park’s creation: that real estate development at the park would be limited to only the amount necessary to fund the Park’s financial needs.” He added that “we need open space at the Park, not needless new condo towers.”

There’s a more complete description of the BHA’s suit here. The BHA is represented in this suit by the law firm Jenner & Block which, according to the BHA, “is well known for its litigation expertise and commitment to pro bono matters.” While the firm may be donating its time, there are many other expenses, such as court fees, that must be covered. The BHA asks anyone who wishes to contribute to funding the lawsuit, as well as other BHA activities on behalf of the community, to donate here, “or send a check, payable to the BHA and designating the BHA Legal Fund in the memo line, to the BHA, 55 Pierrepont Street, 17D, Brooklyn, NY 11201.” (Note that, if you donate on line, there is no way to specify that your donation is to be used for the Legal Fund only.)

]]> 9
Park Board OKs Pier Six Towers; Litigation Looms Wed, 08 Jun 2016 04:26:21 +0000

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.”

]]> 20
Brooklyn Heights Ass’n Continues Pier Six Towers Fight Sat, 04 Jun 2016 17:41:54 +0000

As we previously noted, the City, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, intend to have the BBPC’s board vote on a modified plan for the two residential towers planned for the Pier Six uplands this coming Tuesday, June 7 and, presuming the board approves, proceed with the construction. As we also noted in our earlier story, the head of the Brooklyn Heights Association’s Park Committee sought a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen to discuss an alternative plan supported by the BHA and other civic groups. We are now advised by the BHA that Ms. Glen has refused to meet with them. According to the BHA:

While we continue to reach out to and raise new ideas with BBPC Board members directly, we have been forced to prepare for litigation. We are fortunate that Jenner & Block LLP, one of the foremost litigation firms in the country, has agreed to represent us on a pro bono basis.

The BHA goes on to urge members of the community to contact members of the BBPC board, who are listed here, and “ask that they not approve any proposal that includes building towers now.” It also urges anyone who is able to attend the BBPC board meeting, to be held at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 7 at the NYU Dibner Pfizer Auditorium in 5 MetroTech Center. While the vote will probably take place before anyone from the public is allowed to speak,

your presence alone will send the message that our community expects our public agencies and leaders to keep the commitments they make.

]]> 3
U.S. Attorney and Manhattan DA Probing Library Deal Mon, 23 May 2016 01:57:21 +0000

The Real Deal reports that U.S. Attorney Preet Brahrara and Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. are looking into the deal under which the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (photo) was sold to developer Hudson Companies for demolition and redevelopment as a high rise mixed use residential and commercial building with a new branch library on part of its ground floor and below grade level. The deal also committed Hudson to building two affordable housing buildings off site, but within the district of Community Board 2. The deal appeared to be final as of the beginning of March, when the Brooklyn Borough Board, the last governmental entity that needed to approve it, said “yes.”

The two Manhattan based prosecutors are said to be examining the deal because it is one of several in which it has been alleged that developers who had contributed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “One New York Fund”. Hudson’s head, Heights resident David Kramer, was a fundraiser for de Blasio. It’s said that other developers, including Toll Brothers, developers of Pierhouse, had made higher bids. The City responded that the Hudson proposal offered superior interior accommodations for the new branch library, a better interim library facility for use during construction, a quicker construction schedule, and more affordable housing. According to the Real Deal story, Bharara and Vance have issued subpoenas to several developers who bid on the project, but that none has yet been issued to Kramer.

]]> 2
City Argues Pier Six Towers Plan May Proceed Despite State Disapproval Wed, 18 May 2016 19:16:41 +0000

Crain’s reports that City Hall has issued a statement to the effect that the planned development of two residential towers at Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park, including an affordable housing component and space for a pre-school, may proceed despite its having failed to win the approval of the Empire State Development Corporation. According to the Crain’s story, the City argues that it may proceed under the terms of a settlement agreement it made with towers opponent People for Green Space Foundation to end a lawsuit brought by PFGSF that challenged the Park’s right to modify its plan to include affordable housing. According to the City, the settlement agreement only required it to submit the affordable housing plan to the State, which it has done. It did not require State approval. Consequently, the Park may now proceed with the project as planned (see rendering above) under the terms of its original General Project Plan.

Cuomo jabs; de Blasio counter-punches.

]]> 3
Town Hall Meeting On Brooklyn Bridge Park Issues Wednesday Evening Sun, 01 May 2016 02:48:58 +0000

This Wednesday evening, May 4, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, Clinton and Montague streets (enter from Clinton) there will be a Town Hall Meeting to discuss “three contentious development issues within Brooklyn Bridge Park”:

1) the obstruction of the views of the Brooklyn Bridge by Pierhouse,

2) the violation of the Scenic View District (SV-1), and

3) the unnecessary towers proposed for Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.

The status of the ongoing lawsuits with regard to SV-1 and Pierhouse will also be reviewed.

The Meeting is sponsored by the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, the People for Green Space Foundation (affiliated with Save Pier 6, and Save The View Now. All are invited.

]]> 6
Court Hearing on Alleged Pierhouse View Plane Obstruction Today Thu, 04 Feb 2016 15:10:30 +0000

Update: The hearing was about the defendants’ (Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, New York City, and developer Toll Brothers) motion to dismiss the suit because it is barred under the statute of limitations. Plaintiffs (the Brooklyn Heights Association and Save The View Now) introduced an affidavit by City Council Member Steve Levin to the effect that key information concerning the alleged intrusion of the penthouse structure into the protected scenic view plane was not available to him or to other concerned parties until the intrusion became visible. Defendants objected, and Justice Knipel accepted the affidavit subject to a later determination on its admissibility. He reserved judgment on the motion to dismiss.

We got the news late, but there will be a hearing this afternoon (Thursday, February 4) starting at 2:00 p.m. at Brooklyn Supreme Court, 360 Adams Street, 7th floor, on the lawsuit brought by Save The View Now, in which the Brooklyn Heights Association has joined. The suit alleges that a survey commissioned by STVN last year shows that a penthouse on the Pierhouse structure intrudes on the protected view plane from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (details here).

]]> 3
Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Suing Designers of Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge Sat, 23 Jan 2016 04:40:42 +0000

Gothamist reports that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has begun a lawsuit against HNTB Corporation and HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture, P.C., designers and contract administrators for the Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge, which opened in March of 2013 but which was closed in August of 2014 and has remained closed since. According to the complaint, appended to the Gothamist article, filed in Supreme Court, New York County by BBPC’s attorney, the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, the design of the bridge was “defective.” The complaint alleges breach of contract and professional malpractice on the part of the HNTB defendants, and seeks damages “in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $3 million.”

The Gothamist piece quotes BBPC spokesperson Belinda Cape: “[I]t has become clear that [HNTB] was either unwilling or unable to provide a workable solution to fix the bridge, and that its design was inherently flawed.” She also says BBPC has hired Arup to replace HNTB as the new engineer of record for the bridge project. According to Brownstoner’s story on the BBPC lawsuit, Arup has six months to draw up plans to fix the bridge, and those plans must then be approved by BBPC’s board, so it is unlikely that the bridge will re-open anytime soon. Brownstoner also says thae amount of damages claimed is $6 million, not $3 million, although the complaint, which is also appended to the Brownstoner story, says $3 million.

]]> 71 Coming Up at Brooklyn Historical Society Sun, 10 Jan 2016 23:44:31 +0000

Judge Jack Weinstein (photo), of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York (the Eastern District includes Brooklyn along with the rest of Long Island and Staten Island) is one of the longest sitting judges on the federal bench. Early in his career he was part of a team of lawyers who assisted Thurgood Marshall, who would later become the first African American U.S. Supreme Court justice, in the preparation of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s case in Brown v. Board of Education, which led to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision holding school segregation to violate the U.S. Constitution. On Tuesday evening, January 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 Judge Weinstein will be at BHS for a discussion with Michael Waldman, President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s School of Law. General admission is $10, BHS or Green-Wood members $5; buy tickets here.

On Thursday evening, January 14, stting at 6:00, activist Kevin Powell, author of The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey Into Manhood, will be at BHS for discussion with The Nation’s Dave Zirin, and book signing. Admission is free, but you must reserve tickets here.

]]> 1
BHA, STVN Join in New Pierhouse Lawsuit Sun, 06 Dec 2015 17:40:13 +0000

The Eagle reports that the Brooklyn Heights Association has joined with Save The View Now as plaintiff in a new lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the City of New York, and Pierhouse developer Toll Brothers. The suit is based on a survey, commissioned by STVN, that is said to show a portion of the southern part of the Pierhouse complex encroaching on the protected view plane from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. STVN took the results of the survey to the City’s Department of Buildings, which declined to take any action. The suit asks the court to order Toll Brothers to halt construction of the portion of the Pierhouse that is alleged to interfere with the view plane, and to remove any part that does so interfere.

]]> 2