Residents Take Aim at Brooklyn Development

     MANHATTAN (CN) — More condominiums set to join the outcropping of high-rises in the tony neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights prompted a court petition from residents.
     The Brooklyn Heights Association filed Thursday to block the development of another high-rise in their neighborhood that would reduce the sweeping views owners enjoy of the Manhattan skyline across the East River.
     Several high-rise towers have sprouted up around the neighborhood over the years, and the neighbors aren’t happy about it.
     Their 91-page petition takes aim at newest “disfigure[ment]” headed their way : a $500 million development of two condo towers at Pier 6 near Brooklyn Bridge Park.
     The 43 stories of real estate voted in last month by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. includes more than 400,000 square feet of new apartments, residents say.
     Such “action will take much-needed land that would be an important part of the park (its entrance), exacerbate the dramatic overcrowding in the community’s schools, which are already in crisis, and loom incongruously over the adjacent low-rise neighborhood of Brooklyn,” the petition states.
     Noting that the area was deemed New York City’s first historic district, residents counted “multiple legal flaws” with the development.
     In their host of complaints, the NIMBYs complain that the city didn’t perform a proper environmental analysis on the impact of the project.
     Though the general project plan authorizing for the towers dates back to 2006, the petition quotes a caveat that developers were “to build only what is necessary to support annual maintenance and operations.”
     Brooklyn Bridge Park has experienced a renaissance of late, which added a carousel, a winding park, and several other features to lure the wealthy to live there.
     But adding the two towers would diminish the value of other properties, plaintiffs say.
     The petition quotes then-City Councilman-and-now-Mayor Bill De Blasio as criticizing the 30-story proposal as too high in 2006, saying “there are other ways to achieve the revenue.”
     De Blasio keeps a home in another ritzy Brooklyn neighborhood, Park Slope.
     Developers hoping to save the towers wrote to a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge in 2006 with promises that they were “committed to building the minimum development necessary to cover the park’s maintenance and operations needs,” according to the petition.
     “If, once requests for proposals are issued for the development components, it becomes clear that the market conditions will allow for less development to support the park’s need, the development program would be reduced accordingly,” they said.
     But now, the two towers will sky over the low-rise community as development continues to evolve.
     Real estate values in the neighborhood have skyrocketed since 2014, according to the lawsuit.
     Things got ugly when developers announced plans for a “different maintenance approach,” the petition says.
     They allegedly planned to repair a “large majority of the timber piles,” calling it a “preventative” maintenance approach.
     But residents say developers changed course again. Deciding that the piles couldn’t hold up the structure, they planned to apply an epoxy to the timbers.
     The developers’ plan “has all the earmarks of a plan intended to justify the Pier 6 development, rather than a plan compelled by sound maintenance practice,” the lawsuit states.
     Residents say the developers’ need to “spend $100 million in the very near-term makes no local sense.”
     “Independent technical experts have noted that repairing thousands of timber piles before they otherwise require repair will simply accelerate the time at which those piles will require repairs again,” according to the petition.
     Accusing the developers of “circular” logic, residents say they “ignored the costs that the development of more than 400,000 square feet of real estate at Pier 6 will impose on the park and the community.”
     The whole issue of the development went up for review in light of all the community’s objections and continued development in the area. But the plan passed, like it or not.
     The Brooklyn Park Conservancy declined to a request for comment Friday. A representative said it’s not for her to discuss and the matter should be taken up with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp., which hasn’t responded to a forwarded email.
     Richard Ziegler, with Jenner & Block in Manhattan, represents the Brooklyn Heights Association.Named as respondents are the New York State Urban Development Corp., the Empire State Development, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp. and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp.
     
     Editor’s Note: A day after this article ran, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Bridge Park called the Pier 6 project the result of a “meticulous, merit-based process.”
     “We’ve exhaustively demonstrated that the Pier 6 development is essential to the long-term funding of the park – in addition to providing sorely needed affordable housing and union jobs in the process,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “We’re confident that we’ve satisfied all legal requirements, and look forward to ensuring that the park will have the funding it needs to serve millions of New Yorkers long into the future.”

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