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Activists: City figures show Bridge Park is way undervaluing its properties

Brooklyn Paper
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They’re right on the money.

A new Department of Finance report shows Brooklyn Bridge Park stands to rake in $300 million more from private development than it originally projected, claim activists — and locals say the figures vindicate their long-contested allegations that the park doesn’t need to erect any more housing to cover its costs.

“We knew that we were right and, big surprise, we were right,” said Judi Francis, president of advocacy group Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund.

Private buildings in the waterfront meadow pay the park an annual tax based on their value, which is calculated by the Department of Finance, and park honchos use that cash to pay for its upkeep.

But the numbers projected in the park’s budget are well below the agency’s latest valuations, influential local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association claims in new court filings.

In what it describes as the most “graphic” illustration of the disparity, the park’s budget values the new luxury Pierhouse condo complex at $147 per square foot — but the Department of Finance’s latest calculations say it is actually worth $230 per square foot, the group says.

Across the whole park’s development, the agency’s latest valuations show it will reap $300 million more than it initially anticipated over the next 50 years, the civic council estimates.

The association is suing the quasi-private organization that runs the green space to stop two controversial new towers at Pier 6, claiming it is violating an agreement that it will only allow the minimum amount of development in the park necessary to cover maintenance costs.

One of the group’s key arguments is that the park’s bean-counters have undervalued Pierhouse to justify going ahead with the additional apartment blocks.

The park’s board members approved the towers last summer, even though opponents at the time argued that they should wait until the finance department’s assessments for the 2018 fiscal year came out in January for a more accurate picture of the park’s finances and Pierhouse’s true value.

Now the critics have been vindicated, Francis says.

“There’s absolutely no need for more housing,” she said. “There’s an incredible necessity for more parkland and this is the place to do it.”

By way of response, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation offered only a statement that said the Heights Association’s claims are wrong and that the Pier 6 project is needed.

“We have repeatedly made clear the necessity and merits of this project, and look forward to responding to the BHA’s erroneous claims in court,” said David Lowin, the park’s interim president.

Francis said the statement reminded her of another president.

“That’s pretty damn pathetic that they could possibly be fighting this reality,” she said. “Their response is Trumpian and they should be ashamed of themselves.”

The case will go to court on March 6.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 11:20 am, February 24, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Jamie from Brooklyn heights says:
Judi Francis has become a joke.
Feb. 24, 8:35 am
Blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Judi Francis is right on the money as to non-need
for additional housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The facts are the facts. Judi and her group to be
praised.
Feb. 24, 9:25 am
Judi Francis from Brooklyn says:
Thank you, Bill. The BHA has also been wonderful in this last battle for more parklands, too.
I am sorry Jamie you feel that advocating for more parklands for the thousands of new apartments in the pipeline and the scant 1/2 acre in Fulton Mall as "new parklands" is sufficient. Either you don't value light and air, or you have other axes to grind. I am sorry if I offend you but I get nothing out of this long, long fight except sleeping well at night knowing we are trying to do the right thing.
Feb. 24, 11:42 am
Judy Loo says:
Typical Asian businessmen trying to defraud the city :-(
Feb. 24, 2:58 pm
ujh from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Judi Francis and others seem to have short memories. Robert A. Levine was unable to sell his condos in One Brooklyn Bridge Park when the financial crisis hit and the offering plan was amended to allow rentals. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, no PILOTS were made by the development for several years; this fact was confirmed by the BBP leadership. To this day, the commercial space sits empty.

Considering our uncertain environmental future, BBP is smart in setting aside larger reserves than "absolutely necessary" by current estimates. The decades-long problems that have delayed the completion of Hudson River Park because of lack of maintenance funding should be a lesson to all, particularly to the critics of BBP.
Feb. 25, 10:46 am
Joe from Brooklyn Heights says:
Ahh, the fear mongering playbook.
#UJH seems to forget there is, today, a $300 million park surplus. What will these new towers add, another billion dollar surplus? I thank g-d people are pushing for more parklands. It is insane to want more buildings and in a flood plane no less.
Feb. 26, 4:41 am
Frank from Furter says:
These last two buildings take up two small sites. One of the buildings will be a rental. We can all wait and see if it is affordable. The alternate plan wanted a pier with retail and amusements...not a park at all. The South street pier across the harbor failed as retail mall and as someone else pointed out the retail on one bbp has been almost empty for 15 years. My friends grandkids love the swing park. It is an unusual park. Well used by all. You don't think they know it's in a flood plain?
Feb. 26, 12:26 pm
Cerisse from Fort Greene says:
Jamie, please explain what you mean by calling someone a joke. Do you have an argument? Saying someone is a joke, is a moron, pathetic, offensive, etc. means nothing except that you don't have anything to say. Is Judi Francis a joke for being right about Regina Myer and BBP lying about the numbers? What a funny thing to say.
Feb. 27, 2:15 pm

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