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Double parking: Brooklyn Bridge Park could get twice as big with development of Red Hook waterfront

Double the green: California-based engineering firm AECOM wants to nearly double the size of Brooklyn Bridge Park with six additional piers as part of its plan to develop Red Hook.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s Brooklyn Bridge Park 2.0!

Gov. Cuomo’s call to develop Red Hook by kicking out a shipping terminal and bringing a new subway stop could double the size of Brooklyn’s Front Yard, engineers pushing a similar plan for the nabe told The Brooklyn Paper.

California-based AECOM’s proposal would transform the Port Authority-owned piers currently occupied by the Red Hook Container and Brooklyn Cruise terminals — a massive port that runs from Atlantic Avenue to Clinton Wharf — into a sprawling grassy meadow called the “Fields at Columbia Piers” that would connect to Brooklyn Bridge Park, an executive at the company said.

“You would basically bring the whole topology of Piers 1 to 6 and recreate that same kind of park atmosphere down from Piers 7 to 12,” said Chris Ward, who previously served as an executive director at the state-run Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “And really have that waterfront park expanded with luxury housing built on top of the raised platform.”

AECOM execs, who recently opened a Sunset Park office, initially pitched their idea to extend the 1 train from Manhattan to Red Hook and build massive high-rises in the superstorm-Sandy ravaged nabe in 2016.

And the proposal’s viability is gaining steam in the wake of Cuomo’s Jan. 3 State of the State speech, in which he asked honchos at the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to look into building an underwater Red Hook-to-Manhattan subway tunnel and shipping the nabe’s maritime operation down to Sunset Park to free its piers for potential development.

Ward envisions three stops for Red Hook’s new subway: one on the current container-terminal site, another near the Red Hook Houses public-housing complex, and a third adjacent to the F- and G-train station at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street.

He estimated that expanding the infrastructure would cost about $4 billion, and said revenue generated from developing the waterfront would foot the bill.

But Ward’s vision for a Red Hook with new subway stations and an expanded Brooklyn Bridge Park is currently little more than a pipe dream, he said, as it would take years for any work to begin and would first require a rezoning.

“This is just the beginning. There’s a tremendous amount of work that would need to be done, plus cooperation between state and city,” Ward said. “The political complexity between city and state exceeds my capacity, all I’m saying is that someone’s going to have deal with it and I think the governor, to his credit, recognizes that at least.”

And a rezoning isn’t in the cards for the neighborhood, according to Mayor DeBlasio, who told concerned residents at a December town hall that he didn’t anticipate such a change happening in the near future.

“There’s no vision of rezoning that would allow for more zoning than could happen right now in this community,” Hizzoner said.

But development in Brooklyn Bridge Park — which is jointly run by the city and the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation — is mandated by the park’s independent General Project Plan, which trumps local zoning laws and permits construction in the green space only to generate revenue needed by it.

Development in the current park is at capacity, however, and a green-space spokeswoman said she can’t speculate on what would happen in a possible expansion.

“Brooklyn Bridge Park is currently 90 percent complete or under construction. We are focused on completing the park as designed, and maintaining and operating a world-class park that stretches 85 acres from John Street in Dumbo to Pier 6,” said Sarah Krauss. “We understand there are various ideas about the future of the Brooklyn waterfront, and cannot speculate on conceptual plans or what they might mean for the area at this time.”

AECOM’s Brooklyn outpost joins its five already-open offices on the distant isle of Manhattan, and comes amid the engineering firm’s work on other local infrastructure projects, including a possible expansion of the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian promenade and the reconstruction of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever in Brooklyn Heights.

The firm also worked with the city on a controversial environmental study of a toxic site officials plan to build a Coney Island homeless shelter on, which activists blasted as inaccurate, and assisted in the construction of Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway line.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:50 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ishikawa says:
If what's been built along the Brooklyn waterfront thus far is an indicator, nothing constructed will be of any significance. Anyone can build and build garbage they will.
Jan. 12, 7:12 pm
Andrea from Williamsburg says:
AECOM? Are you f'n kidding me?
Jan. 12, 7:42 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
It's a pleasant change to have a bold plan for brininging much needed housing and transit to Brooklyn. De Blasio of course is going to obstruct and pander fear of change.
Jan. 12, 7:54 pm
Thomas from Brooklyn Heights says:
This city can't stop shtng on itself... literally.
Jan. 12, 8:11 pm
John B. from Heights says:
Chris Ward: "...bring park atmosphere to 7-12...". "Park atmosphere" is not park lands. Do you see any ball fields, public swimming pools or ice rinks here? Of course not. We should be building parks for parks-sake, not promenades or front lawns for the wealthy. We are killing our city by ignoring the needs of families and children. The headline is also misleading as these are not protected park lands but lawns and a promenade for the more than 150,000 new residents who will live there. They, and those of us who now live here, deserve much better.
Jan. 13, 10:21 am
Ryan from Cobble Hill says:
Good point John -- the headline sounds great, but the photo looks like a nightmare.
Jan. 13, 1:16 pm
Walter from Brooklyn Heights says:
aecon
Jan. 13, 4:43 pm
resume buff says:
Because Chris Ward did such a great job at the Port Authority-- nice work if can get it, turd. Your accomplishments-- your "legacy", hah hah-- are what again?
Jan. 14, 3:09 am
Michael from Brooklyn says:
They should use this area to build nightclubs. It could be a great place for fun, and be a real attraction. It's far from residential areas, so the noise would be no problem. There's a huge lack of big nightlife venues. Would be a great way to use the space.
Jan. 14, 7:08 am
Marcus from Park Slope says:
AECOM? Really? How depressing. Nothing less than the likes of a firm such as Buro Happold should be allowed close to NYC floodplains.
Jan. 14, 1 pm
Daniella from Boerum Hill says:
Enough already with the halfa55 schmaltz.
Jan. 14, 1:52 pm
Benji from Red Hook says:
I've seen better public housing (in other parts of the world) than this underwater Miami crap.
Jan. 14, 2:54 pm
Chet from Red Hook says:
To be honest, this plan would be a long ways away, and is a great conversation starter for productive, sustainable community growth. Love a good dialogue.
Jan. 15, 12:34 pm
Walter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Good dialogue involves knowing who is paying AECON.
Jan. 15, 5:13 pm
Property Owners from Red Hook says:
This is one guys fantasy who is going to get paid whether he wins of fails.

No community outreach was done and property owners were not asked.

It's bad enough he went ahead with this without Port Authority & NYC approval, but even more arrogant to do it with someones private property.
Jan. 16, 11:37 am
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
And with climate change, this area will be awash at high tide by the end of this century.

Also, in the photo, I don't see any lowrise buildings that are there now. I guess they've overturned Landmarks and replaced everything with skyscrapers.

Read my lips: Not. Gonna. Happen.
Jan. 17, 1:52 pm

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