Two more OKs for Bridge ‘park’

The Brooklyn Paper
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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
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