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Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 housing drama returns to court

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Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and Brooklyn Heights Association are in for the long haul

The battle over Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 housing rages on (and on, and on). In the latest chapter, the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) return to court, after settlement talks failed last month, the Brooklyn Paper reports.

At issue is whether the two-tower residential development rising at Pier 6 is, in fact, providing too much housing, thus violating the BBPC’s agreement with the BHA to develop “only the amount [of housing] necessary to fund the park’s financial needs.”

The plan, as it currently stands, is to build two apartment towers on Pier 6: The mixed-income 15 Bridge Park Drive, which will have 100 affordable apartments and 40 market-rate apartments, and 50 Bridge Park Drive, which will be entirely market-rate. BBPC’s original proposition was to put in taller buildings with 300 apartments in total, but developers chosen by BBPC adapted the plans in response to community concerns in the summer of 2016. Needless to say, the community was not, in fact, happy, and remained very, very concerned.

In the present lawsuit, BHA alleges that BBPC is in violation of the initial agreement to build as little housing as necessary and that the group already has plenty of money from other park developments like the ritzy Pierhouse. BBPC maintains they need the funds the additional housing would provide to keep up the timber piles supporting the East River pier, which are being “devoured by wood eating crustaceans.”

The judge presiding over the case, Justice Lucy Billings, is not convinced the initial agreement actually required BBPC to build only the bare minimum for maintenance of the park, noting that the language in the agreement is somewhat ambiguous. “It doesn’t appear to me to impose an obligation,” she said. (The lawyer representing BHA begs to differ.)

But while that seems potentially promising for the BBPC and its mission to build Pier 6 housing, the BHA and supporters were not without victories of their own. The multi-pronged lawsuit also alleges the BBPC violated its own laws when it selected the developers, RAL Companies and Oliver’s Realty Group. In court, according to the Brooklyn Paper, the developers admitted that they “did not file proper paperwork with the city before they were chosen.”

When reached by Curbed, a Brooklyn Bridge Park spokesperson said, “The proposed development at Pier 6 will provide essential long-term funding for the park, as well as needed affordable housing and union construction jobs. We look forward to presenting our case in July.”

And so the saga continues. While Billings will eventually rule in one direction or the other, both sides will first have another chance to argue their case in July.

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