The battle over housing at Pier 6 of Brooklyn Bridge Park is really bringing out the NIMBYest of the NIMBYs in the neighborhood. At a meeting about the development last night, one woman, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, literally yelled, “Why does it have to be in Brooklyn Heights. Why not build it in Williamsburg?” The statement, albeit ridiculous, highlights the feelings of a large group of residents and neighbors who believe that two residential towers are a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. The buildings would rise 29 and 14 stories near Atlantic Avenue, bringing 339 condos to the area, 30 percent of which would be affordable. Like all development in the park, they have been part of the plan since the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation created its General Project Plan in 2005, and the corporation insists that they are vital to the park’s continued financial stability, as the green space received no government funds.
Last night’s meeting coincided with the release of a new report from economist Barbara Byrne Denham that was commissioned by the park corporation. According to Crain’s, Denham ran “several stress tests on the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s financial model to predict what might happen if Pier 6 isn’t built. In 11 different scenarios, all of which assume current or more favorable projections—such as 25 percent more revenue or 50 percent less capital costs—the corporation would still be operating at a deficit, often in hundreds of millions of dollars, without the new development.”
If the park were not built on the water, this likely would not be the case. The biggest expense is the continued upkeep of the piers upon which the park is built. There are 13,000 deteriorating wooden piles that need to be maintained, and sine 2012, costs for these repairs have already increased 25 percent.
But opponents called the report into question, and they were peeved that the corporation didn’t release it before yesterday’s meeting. “They didn’t have the courage to provide it to the public in time for our financial analyst to take a look at it,” Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, told Crain’s. Previously, opponents have argued that the park is “overfunded” and will reap a financial windfall from tax breaks at the already-built properties that will render Pier 6 housing unnecessary.
Many of the arguments from opponents certainly come off as superfluous and self-involved, especially when coming from people who live in One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the first condo building in the park. Last year, one resident, Blair Guppy, said he would have never bought his condo if he knew he’d be living near “100% subsidized housing,” and then told the Times, “By no means am I looking to come across as an elitist.”
But local officials have a more reasonable argument. With the redevelopment of the Long Island College Hospital just up the street, plus other projects in the neighborhood, hundreds of new apartments are already in the works, and they are concerned about overcrowding and a lack of schools. In a six-page letter voicing his opposition, State Senator Daniel Squadron said, “When considered alongside the LICH development (literally), PS 8 wait lists, and other rapid changes, all of which are contemplated in isolation, it is impossible to argue that these developments do not have a collective impact on neighborhood character.”
Councilman Brad Lander reiterated this opinion at the meeting: “We will allow both of those properties to be put up for sale for development without making a plan for where those kids are gonna go to school in a neighborhood where all the schools are overcrowded? That is insane!”
The meeting marks the start of a 30-day review period before park officials vote on the development plan. Earlier this month, the park corporation chose RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group as the developer of the planed buildings. Renderings by ODA showed industrial-inspired buildings with large windows and retail on the ground floor. Part of the modified plan allows the inclusion of affordable housing, which was not accounted for in the original 2005 plan.
· Last night: Heated Debate Over Towers at Brooklyn Bridge Park [BK Paper]
· Pier 6 Development is Vital to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Report Says [Crain’s]
· De Blasio Position Assailed at Brooklyn Bridge Park hearing [Capital NY]
· Battle Over Pier 6 Luxe and Affordable Housing Heats Up [NYP]
· Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Controversial Pier 6 Towers, Revealed [Curbed]
· All Pier 6 coverage [Curbed]