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Tower play: Brooklyn Bridge Park, activists reach settlement on Pier 6 development

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Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos can move ahead with their plan to erect two more apartment towers in Brooklyn’s front yard, but will have to make some concessions to anti-development activists, after the two parties settled a 10-month legal battle on Wednesday.

Park officials can resume the process of selecting a developer for the site, but have agreed to place height restrictions on the buildings, get the state’s approval on their latest plans, and give the public time to respond before the building designs are finalized, which the activists say is still a win for park lovers and a win for transparency.

“This is a victory for the tens of millions of current and future visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Lori Schomp, a spokeswoman for the plaintiff, a group called People For Green Space. “This park already has millions of square feet of development. Before blocking the park entrance with unneeded private condos and cars, the public should have a say.”

Schomp said her group’s biggest triumph is that Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the semi-private body that administers the park, will now have to give 14 days’ notice before its board members meet to approve a developer for the Pier 6 site, giving the public time to look over the plans and air their objections. The park must also keep the towers at a maximum height of 315 feet and 155 feet — about 30 and 15 stories, respectively — including the kind of rooftop machinery that has caused headaches at the park’s other developments.

The towers are two of seven high-rises that park bigwigs say are needed to help pay for the maintenance of the sprawling waterfront green space. But last year, Mayor DeBlasio announced that 30 percent of the units in these final towers would be below-market-rate, leading opponents to question whether the park really needed the money the development would generate after all.

People For Green Space filed its suit in July last year, arguing that the addition of so-called affordable housing was a big enough change to the original concept that the board needed to formerly amend its plan and subject the whole project to a new environmental impact study. A judge then placed a temporary restraining order on the project until the spat could be settled.

Under the settlement, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will have to seek approval for the amended plans from the Empire State Development Corporation — a process that will include a chance for members of the public to comment — but it won’t have to go through the new environmental review. Schomp said her group is still allowed to push for that again some time in the future, however.

The park is currently considering 14 proposals from different developers. Suggested features on the various plans include swimming pools, rooftop greenhouses, outdoor chess tables, and something called an “art garden.”

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ian from Williamsburg says:
This Mayor's view of neighborhood development is so myopic and solely focused on his centrally planned subsidized housing issue that he's no longer in touch with the communities. It is ludicrous to interject his housing for the poor in a prime park and waterfront development when nobody in the Brooklyn Heights community wants the component and it could be more affordable placed in a different location. The high end development was suppose to subsidize a park for the community, but now it's subsidizing homes for a few lucky lottery winners. Get this guy out of office.
May 30, 2015, 11:39 pm
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
No Ian from Williamsburg. More affordable housing! Even on the water front. it shouldn't be exclusive to just ugly minded rich people
June 1, 2015, 7:50 am
JUSTINE SWARTZ from BROOKLYN HEIGHTS says:
The affordable housing will be warehoused in another neighborhood. The Wealthy won't even have to have a 'poor door'. Brooklyn Heights community library Cadman Plaza is being replaced by a 55 floor
condominium and the affordable housing will not be
located in the condo but elsewhere in Community 2.
June 1, 2015, 1:30 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
This is subsidized housing for the lucky few that win the lottery. Section 8 vouchers are a better nationally tested system because you can take your voucher to a market rental, but our politicians are in the dark ages of economics. Under the 421a program developers could contribute the proceeds to develop subsidized housing in a location that's more economically efficient, but De Blasio is changing this to require his social engineering. It makes no sense to subsidize less units at a higher cost location because it costs everyone more dough.
June 1, 2015, 9:50 pm
tina from dumbo says:
how can you put low income(no income) next to people that have spent many hours getting an education and working 12 hour days and making their life better, next to people that are either slow or mentally ill....this is crazy....if not for nice neighborhoods which ny is limiting how can you live in NY and the rich pay a lot of taxes - this is a recipe for disaster and very crazy!
Sept. 1, 2015, 9:34 am

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