The Real Deal New York

Judge tosses lawsuit seeking to block development at Pier 6

Construction on Brooklyn Bridge Park project has been ongoing
By Kathryn Brenzel | February 16, 2018 04:40PM

Rendering of Pier 6 and RAL’s Robert Levine (Credit: ODA and RAL)

A state Supreme Court Judge on Friday tossed a lawsuit seeking to block a two-tower development planned for Brooklyn Bridge Park, finding that the project was an appropriate scale.

Judge Carmen Victoria St. George dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) seeking to stop RAL Development Services and partner Oliver’s Realty Group from building a 28-story condominium and 14-story rental building at Pier 6, which have a combined 266 units. The lawsuit alleged, among other things, that the project violated the park’s 2006 General Project Plan, which required that any development on Pier 6 only be done to “enliven the area” and assure the financial stability of the park.

The community group argued that smaller scale buildings would’ve satisfied this requirement. The group pointed to the fact that 25 percent of the square footage of the projects was being set aside for affordable housing as proof that buildings of that size and scale weren’t needed to sustain an already wealthy park. BHA previously alleged that the towers would create $300 million in extra revenue in the next 50 years — a calculation that officials contested.

The judge also didn’t buy the group’s argument.

“Respondents are entitled to consider the future financial needs of the park and the potential fluctuations in the economy in their financial analysis and to make conservative projections to ensure future financial stability in a worst-case scenario,” the judge said.

When reached by phone on Friday, RAL CEO Robert Levine said he was pleased with the decision. He said construction on the project continued as the lawsuit made its way through the court. The court ruled in July that construction could commence before a final decision on the lawsuit was made — though, at the developers’ peril. Levine said he wasn’t concerned about the court ruling in the group’s favor.

“The merits of the initial arguments in court provided us confidence that we would prevail,” he said.

Representatives for BHA didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the decision.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp., the nonprofit that controls the 85-acre park, tapped RAL and Oliver’s in July 2016 to develop Pier 6.

“In addition to critical long-term funding for Brooklyn Bridge Park guaranteed by today’s decision, the Pier 6 project will also provide much-needed affordable housing and union construction jobs,” Eric Landau, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said in a statement.

The lawsuit also alleged that Oliver’s failed to register with a database of companies that do business with the city — something that’s required of companies that donate to local political campaigns. The judge noted that though the failure was “troubling,” it didn’t impact the developer’s contract.