City pays high price to fulfill promise of park land in Williamsburg

November 08, 2011 09:53AM

Parks Department commissioner Adrian Benepe and a rendering of the Finger Building in Williamsburg
The very same measures the city put in place to spur residential development in Williamsburg are coming back to haunt it as it tries to fulfill parkland promises to residents near the hated “Finger Building,” according to the New York Times.

The 200-foot-tall building, located at 144 North 8th Street, managed to be grandfathered in after the city rezoned large portions of Williamsburg and Greenpoint to reduce the height of buildings off the waterfront to 60 feet. But the larger purpose of the rezoning was to encourage inland development, which would have brought thousands more residents to an area that was already short on public green space. As a result, the city had promised a 28-acre patch of land to the community, which it would turn into a park.

Though the development has come, most of the park has not. The city has encountered astronomical prices as it tries to acquire the land, largely because the current owners of the land recognize the value it could hold for the very same residential developments the city was encouraging.

The city has paid $95 million for an 8.7-acre parcel, a 2.5-acre plot for $30 million and is working to buy another piece for about $80 million from Bayside Fuel Oil. Norman Brodsky, owner of a parcel that would be part of the park, is believed to be asking $120 million for his 11-acre parcel.

“The city is investing in excess of $315 million in this one community, which is a quarter of our total capital budget for 20 years in the borough of Brooklyn,” said New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. [NYT]