The Real Deal New York

Pier 6 development in jeopardy after ESD removes support

RAL Development’s $10K donation to de Blasio nonprofit has state officials wary

May 18, 2016 09:36AM

Rendering of Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6 (inset: Howard Zemsky

Rendering of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 (inset: Howard Zemsky, president & CEO of Empire State Development)

RAL Development Services’ plans for a two-tower residential development at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 have been dealt a serious blow after the Empire State Development Corp. pulled its support for the project.

State officials are reportedly wary of a potential conflict of interest, with RAL having made a $10,000 contribution in May 2015 to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York – the nonprofit presently at the center of state and federal investigations into the de Blasio administration’s fundraising practices.

RAL and partner Oliver’s Realty Group were subsequently selected to develop the project at the end of last June, beating out 14 other proposals submitted to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp., according to the Wall Street Journal.

But an Empire State DevelopmentTRData LogoTINY spokesperson told the Journal that the organization “will not move forward” with plans for Pier 6 “until we are fully confident that all newly raised concerns have been addressed.”

City and state officials are believed to have struck an agreement late last week for Pier 6, which would include affordable housing and a preschool but has faced opposition from local stakeholders concerned about additional housing being built in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The development would see two residential towers rise on the site: a 28-story building with 126 market-rate condominiums and a 14-story, mixed-use building with 40 market-rate units and 100 affordable units.

Empire State Development, controlled by de Blasio’s rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo, backed out the deal on Monday, reportedly stunning city officials. De Blasio spokesperson Austin Finan described the development as “deeply disappointing,” and said RAL and Oliver’s Realty were selected for the project because they promised the largest financial contribution to the park and were “committed to good union jobs.”

In addition to concerns over a potential conflict of interest between RAL and City Hall, there are also questions over the involvement of Chinese development giant China Vanke’s involvement in the Pier 6 project. Vanke reportedly made a little-known investment in the development several months ago, and is currently involved in the controversy over the city’s handling of the former Lower East Side nursing home known as Rivington House. [WSJ]Rey Mashayekhi

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