Bridge Park approves Pier 6 towers, as locals prepare for legal fight

Brooklyn Paper
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Board members of the semi-private organization that runs Brooklyn Bridge Park voted to approve two controversial towers at the Pier 6 end of the green space on Tuesday morning.

Members voted 12–4 to approve the new buildings at the end of Atlantic Avenue, with those in favor arguing the park needs the money the towers will bring to fund its upkeep — especially to eliminate the tiny crustaceans slowly devouring the timber piles that hold it up.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure this park is funded and doesn’t fall into the East River,” said Henry Gutman, a board member who owns a condominium at a separate condo development in the park.

Those opposed sided with local residents, who have for years insisted that the park has plenty of cash to stay afloat, and that any extra development contravenes its pledge to only build the bare minimum needed to stay solvent.

Board members Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), Zeeshan Ott — a spokesman for state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) — Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon’s (D–Cobble Hill) appointee Michael Stinson, and Matthew Wing — who is Gov. Cuomo’s former press secretary — all voted against the towers.

Dozens of local residents showed up to the public meeting armed with placards, jeering throughout the proceedings, then slamming the board after it approved the plan.

“You have permitted the greed of a few, and the arrogance of the several, to cause the loss of more precious parklands, at its most critical entrance, to the detriment of all,” said Judi Francis, president of advocacy group the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund.

Influential civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association immediately vowed to sue to stop the towers.

“There’s about to be a lawsuit in light of your voting today,” said Heights resident Richard Ziegler, who is a partner at law firm Jenner and Block.

It wouldn’t be the first suit — in fact, Tuesday’s vote was the culmination the last one, which was eventually settled in 2015 when city and park honchos agreed to go through a state approval process for changes they had made to the original plan for the Pier 6 development, including the addition of below-market housing.

But state officials last month refused to approve the changes amidst the ongoing spat between Mayor DeBlasio and Cuomo and a probe into Hizzoner’s campaign finances, leading City Hall honchos to declare they had satisfied the spirit of the law by “seeking” its okay and vowed to plow ahead.

On Monday, the head of the state’s economic development arm the Empire State Development Corporation sent a letter to the board saying he doesn’t think the so-called “affordable” housing requires the state’s okay anyway.

But several pols, including Squadron and city Comptroller Scott Stringer, said they didn’t agree the rules of the settlement had been satisfied, and warned it could open the whole thing up to additional legal challenges.

“Today’s decision by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to ignore the settlement agreement and push forward only increases the risk of additional litigation and is bound to escalate the animosity with the local community,” said Stringer’s spokesman Eric Sumberg.

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

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Why build more housing in Brooklyn Heights when you can just redirect rich people to displace people from Bed-Stuy instead? That's not Steve Levin's problem then.
June 7, 2016, 4:08 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
This is a pure example of the corruption of the public interest through the transfer of public assesets to private hands for no reason other than the exchange of favors between public figures and private developers for the benefit of the rich at the expense of everyone else. Shame on this board who was entrusted but betrayed the public trust.
June 7, 2016, 10:32 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It takes a perverse mind to read a conspiracy theory into an attempt to alleviate our housing shortage.
June 8, 2016, 10:29 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, laws mean nothing when there are developers that happen to have friends in high places. Such relationships allows them to bypass or even side step certain laws. This is exactly how Bruce Ratner got to built the Atlantic Yards (now Pacific Park) complex just by being friends with then-governor George Pataki that allowed him to side step ULURP for SEQRA when it came to reviews. I won't be too surprised if the developer for this project did the same thing. Overall, what's the point of having property rights and zoning laws when they can just be overridden in certain ways?
June 8, 2016, 3:54 pm
Alec from Red Hook says:
Displacement is occurring because there are too many people, not because there's too little housing. Building in a flood zone is perverse.
June 9, 2016, 8:38 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
If you think there are too many people, get out. "Get out" isn't an ideal solution for the big picture, but it is for people like you who write bad comments and have bad ideas.
June 9, 2016, 10:39 am
A from RH says:
Mike, you seem confused. The building is not yet constructed. 'Get out' doesn't apply.
June 9, 2016, 12:55 pm
Laurie says:
Staging area for repairing the two tiered highway?
June 9, 2016, 1:38 pm
Dianna from Fort Greene says:
The start of Atlantic Avenue should be more strategically addressed with regards to infrastructural needs. The location is significant, not some arbitrary loose end.
June 9, 2016, 1:46 pm
Sci-fi? from Brooklyn says:
June 9, 2016, 3:30 pm
Joe from Cobble Hill says:
Yup, the greed of deBlasio and his pay to play. And the arrogance of creeps like Hank Guttman and Joanne Witty who own condos in the park and voted up on getting a few more services for themselves - grocery store, dry cleaners...all on the public's dole in these new park buildings. And you talk about corporate greed? It nothing close to this personal greed and arrogance - it ain't even their money but they use the public's money - taxes that will come from these buildings - for their own good with landscaping and UPS delievies...inside the borders of a park
. Disgusting.
June 10, 2016, 6:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If the damage is done, the least they could do is ban cyclists from the Pier 6 towers, as lazy bikers are ne'er do wells that are parasites on the taxpaying, law-abiding motorists in this city who have to work for a living. I am tired of being Hamased by the zealouts at Streetsblogger, so spare me the inevetible personal attacks as I am merely expressing my views, which I am aloud to do.
Aug. 11, 2016, 1:13 pm

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