Demo regrets: City officials lament tearing down rental buildings to make way for long-delayed DoBro park

EDC may select new developer for Willoughby Square Park

Rendering of Willoughby Square Park
Rendering of Willoughby Square Park (Credit: NYCEDC)

After green-lighting the demolition of residential and rent-stabilized buildings in Downtown Brooklyn, city officials are now facing the possibility that a deal to build a park on the sites may fall apart.

The city promised a one-acre park — dubbed Willoughby Square Park — back in 2004 as part of the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn. Roughly a decade later, the city tapped Long Island–based American Development Group to build the park and a 700-car parking garage. But now, the Economic Development Corporation is saying that the developer doesn’t seem to have the necessary funds for the project and is mulling replacing American Development Group, Crain’s reported.

City Council member Stephen Levin said he wouldn’t have supported the demolition of apartment buildings on the site if he knew that the project was going to take this long.

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“Frankly, it’s embarrassing,” Levin said. “The city took down some residential, rent-stabilized buildings because we were willing to all agree that the infrastructure being built here was for the public good. But obviously, the longer this all goes on and the longer the public good is delayed, the less tolerable it is. Before the 20th anniversary [of the 2004 rezoning], that would be my hope to have a park. We certainly won’t have it by the 15th.”

Perry Finkelman, CEO of both American Development and Automotion Parking Systems, said his company has financing for a smaller scale project, one that would feature a 500-car parking garage instead. Finkelman said lenders are leery about financing a larger garage. He added that his company has invested millions of dollars into the planning of the project and predicated that finding another developer would likely delay construction by a few more years.

The EDC is expected to decide on whether to find a new developer within the next month. [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel