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Brooklyn Bridge Park's Controversial Pier 6 Towers, Revealed

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Just one week after a public board meeting of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, during which attendees once again expressed opposition to the plans to construct apartment buildings within the southern swath of Brooklyn Bridge Park known as Pier 6, the park has announced its chosen developers for the project: RAL Development Services and Oliver's Realty Group. (It helps, too, that the lawsuit detractors filed has been settled.) At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, the developers also debuted renderings for the two towers from the ubiquitous boxy-building experts at ODA Architecture. The taller of the two, "Parcel A," will contain market-rate condominiums; while the other, on "Parcel B," will contain a mix of affordable and market-rate rentals for a total of 339 apartments. The choice of developers is still pending approval by the park's Board of Directors.

Although plans to put housing on Pier 6 have been floated since 2005, the prospect of doing so has been controversial—just look at the timeline of brouhahas. To name a few of the hot-button issues, Brooklyn Heights residents have raised concerns over the proposed development's environmental impact, its potential interruption of the park's aesthetic, and its overall necessity, which might result in profits above and beyond the park's original promise to only build housing that produces the funding necessary to maintain its operations and upkeep. That last controversy climaxed with the People for Green Space Foundation suing the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, though the lawsuit was settled out of court a month ago.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation's president, Regina Myer, explained that the developers and architects took into account the public's concerns when coming up with the design and plan for the buildings. The development will also allow more middle-class households to move into the neighborhood, according to Myer, as more than 30 percent of the total units will be affordable. In addition, to better integrate into the surrounding neighborhood, the developers made the buildings shorter—their design comes in 30 feet (roughly three stories) under the maximum heights dictated by the General Project Plan (GPP), subsequently reducing the unit count from 430 to 339. Lastly, in a move that received the endorsement of Build Up NYC, the developers promised to use union labor for construction and guaranteed that the jobs, both temporary and permanent (which includes the eventual positions at the ground-floor retail shops, the lobby, and the pre-K facilities), will meet industry standards in terms of safety and benefits.

Myer and RAL CEO Robert Levine emphasized that the development is meant to expand and contribute to the park as an "active entry" or gate. As a result, the buildings, which will be adjacent to an existing playground and dog run, will also contain retail space, a 75-seat pre-K facility, and other areas for community use.

"I wish you all could have been here 12 years ago," said Levine, referring to the drastic changes the park has brought to the Brooklyn waterfront. (He speaks from experience; RAL developed One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the first major housing project in the area.)

Myer contended that the development of Pier 6 into housing is necessary for the survival of the park, as a 50-year projection study indicated that the park, which has never before received public funds, would run out of money in 10 years if the housing wasn't built. But when asked to elaborate on how this squares with the reduction in the number of units, Myer responded that this would be discussed at a later public meeting and reemphasized that the proposal was the best compromise between the public's concerns and the allowances of the existing GPP.

Last week, the boards of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation and the Empire State Development Corporation voted to approve a modification of the GPP that concerns affordable housing, the closing of the loop on Pier 6 that will become expanded park space, and the moving of retail space from the proposed rental building to the condominium. The public will be allowed to comment on this modification, and other concerns in a meeting on July 30.
—Wesley Yiin

All Pier 6 coverage:
· De Blasio Asked to Halt Possible Residential Towers at Pier 6 [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 Towers Could Take These Shapes [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park Seeks Developer For Final Condo Site [Curbed]
· Affordable Housing May Be Coming to Brooklyn Bridge Park [Curbed]
· Neighbors Sue to Prevent Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park [Curbed]
· Designs Unveiled for Controversial Brooklyn Bridge Park Sites [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park To Proceed With Contested Pier 6 Towers [Curbed]
· Can Tax Increases Fund the Future of Brooklyn Bridge Park? [Curbed]
· Squabble Over Brooklyn Bridge Park Towers Continues [Curbed]
· Protest Reignites Fight Over More Brooklyn Bridge Park Towers [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. Dismisses Concerns Over Towers [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. May Officially Change Housing Plan [Curbed]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 Towers Will 'Almost Certainly' Rise [Curbed]
· Plan for Housing at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 Is Still Hated [Curbed]
· All Brooklyn Bridge Park coverage [Curbed]

Brooklyn Bridge Park - Pier 6

Pier 6, Brooklyn, NY 11201