The city must use eminent domain to seize the Williamsburg waterfront property it needs to finish building the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park after the land owner refused to accept Mayor DeBlasio’s offer of $100 million by an Aug. 8 deadline, said dozens of residents and pols who rallied outside City Hall on Monday.
“The city’s offer was an important step, and as it expires today, eminent domain can guarantee our promised park becomes a real park,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Williambsburg), who joined the crowd of around 100. “No deal, no solution, and no park is not okay — I urge the city to continue to insist on making a complete Bushwick Inlet Park a reality.”
DeBlasio finally made the offer to buy the CitiStorage warehouse at Kent Avenue and N. 11th Street in June, following years of pressure from residents for the city to make good on its 10-year-old pledge to buy the site and turn it into parkland — a promise it made when rezoning much of the neighborhood for luxury high-rises.
But property owner Norm Brodsky didn’t bite in the 60 days Hizzoner gave him to accept, calling it a “low ball” offer and asking others to submit competing bids by July 20.
And now Brooklynites say it is time for the city to take more drastic measures before the property mogul sells the land — which sits right in the center of the planned 28-acre park — for private development.
“If City Hall is unable to negotiate for this parcel that will make Bushwick Inlet Park whole, then it is incumbent upon them to take the next steps toward eminent domain proceedings,” said Borough President Adams, who spoke alongside Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D–Greenpoint) and other electeds.
Brodsky tweeted photos of a boozy party he held at the property on the eve of his own deadline that he captioned “celebrating,” but is yet to announce any other buyers or offers, and the city is still hoping he will come around to the $100 million.
“The city remains open to discussions with the owner about ways to guarantee that the community needs are met,” said City Hall spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas. “A negotiated sale is the most expedient way to acquire this property, and the city’s offer is fair.”
The city is worried it would end up having to pay far more for the land if it pursues eminent domain, a rep said, because the price is often decided by a court. That’s how it ended up paying $90 million for the park’s first eight acres — $78 million more than it had anticipated spending.
Residents say they’re touched the mayor is protecting their taxpayer dollars, and if he can bring Brodsky to the negotiating table without using eminent domain, they’re all for it — but they also think the promised green space is worth sinking public funds into.
“As a taxpayer I’m glad they’re looking out for us, but we realize significant investment is necessary to get this piece of land into the park,” said Greenpointer Steve Chesler, of activist group Friends of Bushwiock Inlet Park.
The activists and some legal experts also don’t believe eminent domain will necessarily end up costing the city more, as the Citistorage site is only zoned for heavy industrial use — which means no housing — and courts can’t set prices based on a speculative rezoning.
Brodsky’s broker, Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey, declined to comment.