Robert Levine’s RAL, partner tapped for Brooklyn Bridge Park resi project

Developers to acquire ground lease for $106 million
By Rich Bockmann | June 30, 2015 04:05PM

A joint venture led by Robert Levine’s RAL Development Services will make an up-front payment of $106 million to acquire a long-term ground lease on two parcels in Brooklyn Bridge Park where the partners plan to build a pair of residential buildings.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation announced today that the partnership between RAL and Oliver’s Realty Group, headed by former Related Cos. vice chairman David Wine, beat out 13 other developers who responded to a call for proposals last year to develop a pair of residential buildings at the park’s Pier 6.

“They came in with the strongest bid overall,” said Regina Myer, president of the nonprofit Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. that operates the park. In addition to the financial offer, which includes additional ground rent and payments in lieu of real estate taxes, the selection came down to factors including design, amenities and the affordable housing component of the bid.

The deal still needs to be approved by both the park’s board chaired by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and the Empire State Development Corp. in early fall.

The partners’ proposal for a pair of buildings designed by Eran Chen’s ODA New York came in smaller than the 440 units originally planned for the project in deference to community sensitivity over development in the park.

The developers agreed to shorten the heights of each building by about 30 feet, and in the process trimmed the number of apartments by more than 20 percent.

“We certainly made certain concessions” to address the community’s concerns, Levine said.

The developer couldn’t immediately put a value on the foregone units, but called it “significant.”

The partners plan to build a 29-story building with 192 market-rate condos and a 14-story, mixed-income rental building next door with 30 market-rate units and 117 affordable units.

“There is one lobby for the rental building,” Levine said as he smirked, an apparent nod to the controversy over the “poor doors” included in other affordable projects.

The announcement comes roughly a month after a state judge ruled that the nonprofit that runs the park could go ahead with development. Activists had challenged the proposal, arguing that only a minimum level of development needed to fund the park’s operations should be allowed.

Development at the northern end of the park has also faced opposition. There, activists sued over Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital’s Pierhouse condos, claiming the building will block views of the Brooklyn Bridge, contrary to an agreement from the developer to adhere to a 150-foot height limit.

A state judge ruled just two weeks ago, however, that the building is within  the established height restrictions and that the activists filed suit to late in the process after community groups, the public sector and the developers hammered out an agreement.