The plan to finance Brooklyn Bridge Park, the upkeep of which costs $16 million a year, through residential buildings in the park has always been controversial. Even so, that's exactly how the 1.3-mile long green space has operated since its inception under the Bloomberg administration. The condo building One Brooklyn Bridge Park launched several years ago (and has since sold out), a new condo/hotel is rising beside Pier 1, and a developer was recently selected for another batch at John Street. But now that City Hall is under new leadership, parks advocates are trying once again to halt residential development in the park. The next sites up for development sit beside Pier 6 near Atlantic Avenue. Two towers are set to rise here, and the Times reports that a group of city and state officials, including State Senator Daniel L. Squadron and City Councilmen Stephen T. Levin and Brad Lander, recently sent a letter to new mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to "work collaboratively on alternative park financing, rather than moving forward with the Bloomberg plan."
But wait! Wasn't an alternative plan for these sites agreed upon back in 2011? Why, yes, it was. But the deadline to make that deal happen has passed, so it's now void.
The 2011 agreement, put forth by Squandron and State Assemblywoman Joan Millman, wouldn't have eliminated the two apartment buildings at Pier 6, but it would have limited their size. The complicated deal involved some Watchtower properties owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses, who have been selling off their holdings in Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights. The plan was to rezone the Watchtower buildings, which are mostly zoned for manufacturing, to allow residential use so they would be more valuable and generate much more property tax revenue for the city when they sold. This extra tax revenue would offset whatever profits were lost from making the residential buildings smaller.
However, the sale and the rezoning had to take place by January 1, 2014 or the deal would be nullified. Well, the rezoning never happened, so the city is now free to issue Request for Proposals to develop the two sites as originally planned. And it seems like that's exactly what de Blasio plans to do. A spokesman for the mayor told the Times, "The mayor has been a longstanding supporter of Brooklyn Bridge Park and sees this model as critical to the park's long-term financial sustainability."
· De Blasio Is Urged to Alter Housing Plans at Brooklyn Park [NYT]
· Watchtower Sale May Mean Fewer Condos for Brooklyn Bridge Park [Curbed]
· All Pier 6 coverage [Curbed]