Tower play: Bridge Park developer threatens funds if state doesn’t green-light high-rises

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Call it pier pressure.

The developer behind two widely hated housing high-rises planned for the Pier 6 end of Brooklyn Bridge Park is threatening that its funding — and, in turn, the park’s coffers — could dry up if state officials don’t approve the project after months of stalling amidst community opposition.

“We have reached a critical juncture,” said Ral Companies’ chief Robert Levine in a recent letter to the state’s quasi-governmental development arm the Empire State Development Corporation. “Our financial partners have informed me that unless substantial progress … is achieved by April 30, 2016, financing for the project will be jeopardized.”

The agency was supposed to vote on the two towers, containing more than 300 units and a 75-seat pre-school — which park hochos claim are needed to fund the sprawling green space — after a lengthy public hearing spree wrapped up in August.

But it put the whole thing on ice indefinitely after local residents and pols came out ferociously against the plan — with critics arguing that big buildings will stick out like a sore thumb, add too many new kids to local schools, and likely flood next time a superstorm hits.

Some also believe the park is fudging its finances, and already has plenty of cash to stay afloat thanks to the condominiums, hotel, marina, and shops already in the works there.

The Pier 6 project wouldn’t have needed the state’s okay, except Mayor DeBlasio insisted on shoehorning 117 below-market-rate units into the buildings, and activists successfully argued the changes required a review.

Now Levine says his backers are questioning whether the government officials can really get it up after all, and they’re getting impatient.

“Our financial partners have come to doubt the city and state’s ability to execute the project,” he wrote.

A spokesman for the developer later backpedaled on the letter’s suggestion that the entire plan is in peril, however — the backers will just have to restructure or it will find new ones, he said.

But DeBlasio says he is raring to go now — he says the state agency should just forge ahead regardless to sure-up the cash for the park’s kitty and the so-called affordable housing, which would contribute to the 80,000 new below-market units he has pledged to create by 2023.

“Dropping the ball on this project would result in forfeited park funding for one of the city’s treasured open spaces and a squandered opportunity for sorely needed affordable housing and pre-K space,” said City Hall spokesman Austin Finan. “The ESD should see that the project is moved forward.”

But a rep for Empire State Development said it remains hopeful the community and developer will reach a resolution soon, and will “stand ready to assist” until then.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
Oh no. A luxury developer and the mayor are concerned about their profits, I mean afordable housing. What a joke on the community and city. Any more corruption crying to report today? (Corruption as in unnecessary buildings on a public park facilitated by city officials).
March 28, 2016, 9:29 am
John Wasserman from Prospect heights says:
Perhaps a paper route? I don't like that I said that, with the rain and all.
John Wasserman
March 28, 2016, 1:18 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Lauren, you should have a sign above your desk, and that of your editor: "Stop me before I pun again."
March 28, 2016, 1:57 pm
Maria R from Sunset Park says:
Don't these people get it? The community doesn't want this and the electeds are finally siding with the people. You guys are lucky that you are not represented by Carlos Menchaca because he would be pushing this thru regardless of what the people wanted.
March 29, 2016, 12:47 pm
Guest from NYC says:
Just build it.
March 29, 2016, 2:02 pm
ChrisC from Park Slope says:
Classic NIMBYism. Why are people who won't live in these buildings so concerned about flood mitigation? The buildings will 'Stick out like a sore thumb'?- nonsense- the adjacent building (which has been there for decades) is absolutely massive. Just build the buildings already and keep the popular park's finances in the red so that ALL New Yorkers can enjoy it.
April 3, 2016, 2:25 pm

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