Flush with cash, Brooklyn Bridge Park tussles over development plans

High property values already cover the cost of maintaining the park, critics say

Feb.February 24, 2017 10:10 AM

Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Credit: Toll Brothers City Living)

Is Brooklyn Bridge Park suffering from too much of a good thing? With the park poised to see a windfall of revenue from private development, locals are coming out against future building along the East River.

The argument is the latest skirmish in the long-running dispute over development at the park. At issue now are higher property valuations for the four existing developments at the park, which help pay for the park’s maintenance, the Wall Street Journal reported.

While park administrators want to add a fifth development, they’re facing opposition from the Brooklyn Heights Association, which sued last year to stop the project and now say the park has enough money without the fifth project.

The planned development would include two residential buildings with 266 units, including 100 affordable apartments. Developers RAL Development Services TRData LogoTINY and Oliver’s Realty Group signed a 93-year lease at the foot of Pier 6 last year, agreeing to pay $104 million.

But in the lawsuit, BHA members said the city promised to forgo development if the park didn’t need additional revenue to maintain the park.
Recent valuations, they say, support their case.

Pierhouse, a condominium developed by Toll Brothers where for-sale units average $5.8 million, for example, was valued at $230 per square foot by the city’s Department of Finance, BHA claimed. That’s 56 percent higher than the $147 per foot projections by the park corporation. The difference could yield $1.1 million for the park, or 12 percent of its annual budget next year. Over the next 50 years, the additional revenue could swell by $300 million.

Park advocates say that windfall eliminates the need for further development, but the city maintains the money is required to repair up to 13,000 timber pilings that support the park. David Lowin, the park corporation’s interim president, called the higher valuation “simply incorrect and misleading,” in a court filing in September.

“We have repeatedly made clear the necessity and merits of this project, and look forward to responding to [the neighborhood group’s] erroneous claims in court,” he told the Journal. [WSJ]E.B. Solomont

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