more OKs for Bridge ‘park’
Plans for the Brooklyn Bridge Park residential, commercial and open space
development moved forward with back-to-back approval votes by two state
bodies this week.
On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation unanimously
approved the plan it had created with the Empire State Development Corporation,
which gave its own approval the next day.
The plan — which relies on luxury development within the project
to pay for public greenspace — will now move forward towards a final
approval early next year.
Many members of the public say the financing scheme will jeopardize the
public character of the site’s park-like components.
Area residents got another chance to complain about that scheme on Tuesday,
when project architect Michael Van Valkenburg joined city officials at
a briefing on the $150-million development.
Privately owned development will amount to 8.2-acres — or 10 percent
— of total parkland.
“There is always going to be a conflict between condo residents and
park users,” said Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association President
Sandy Balboza. “The financing needs to be worked differently. I still
feel that way.”
Van Valkenburgh avoided commenting on the development’s commercial
element, emitting exasperated sighs each time the topic surfaced.
Van Valkenburgh mostly stayed out of politics, but he did field several
tough questions about the demolition of a building near the intersection
of Old Fulton and Water streets.
The 1936 Modernist warehouse — also known as the Purchase Building
— is slated for demolition.
Preservationists want to see it converted for recreational use, but Van
Valkenburgh said that the bulky building must be razed to improve views
in the park.
“It is very important that people in the park know where they are
going and that there is a sense of connectivity between all parts of the
park,” he said.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Wendy Leventer
offered an olive-branch to project critics at the end of the presentation.
“We want to assure you that the park will be built before all development
starts,” she said.
The development would stretch from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.
Planners say it will include a luxury hotel, condos and retail space,
plus more than a mile of open space including sports fields, basketball
courts and a large “safe-water zone” where swimming in the East
River will be permitted. .
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010