‘Park’ towers shrink, grow

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Bowing to critics, planners of the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront development have proposed bringing down the height of some of the commercial buildings that would subsidize it.

But the smaller buildings would come at a cost.

One building, on Furman Street at the foot of Joralemon Street — which was not slated for residential development in prior renderings — would now be converted to high-end condos.

And in one scheme, a 30-story condo tower rising near Atlantic Avenue, would shrink by 10 stories — but a neighboring building would grow in height to compensate.

Critics slammed such changes as merely tinkering around the edges of a misguided park-and-residential scheme.

“They are switching up the chess pieces — they aren’t improving the game,” said Judi Francis, president of a group that opposes the current development plan.

But designers clearly tried to fix some gripes.

On John Street in DUMBO, planners trimmed a proposed residential building by 100 feet. And instead of a 15-foot-wide sidewalk at the Atlantic Avenue entrance, which critics said did not properly welcome the public into a park, visitors will pass through a 70-foot, tree-lined entrance.

Planners also eliminated a controversial roadway — covering that area with grass.

But the changes weren’t enough for Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association President Sandy Balboza: “Shorter here, taller there— residential development on Atlantic just isn’t going to benefit the avenue.”

Both Balboza and Francis got a sneak-preview of the latest plans on Wednesday at the office of park designer Michael Van Valkenburgh. The private meeting was the latest in a series of public discussions meant to quell the tide of criticism that the $150-million plan has provoked in the neighborhoods that will surround it.

The development will stretch from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue when it’s complete in 2012.

The new design will be unveiled to the public on Tuesday before it moves into the final round of environmental assessments and ultimate approval in Albany. .

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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