There are presently two lawsuits contesting the height of the two development parcels comprising the Pierhouse hotel and condominium project at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
In the lawsuit challenging the intrusion by the southern building’s penthouse into the protected Scenic View Plane, the BHA and Save the View Now (STVN) moved for a preliminary injunction and the defendants moved to dismiss. Those motions are currently being considered by the court.
The original STVN lawsuit challenging the excessive height of the northern Pierhouse building was dismissed. The appeal by STVN has been filed and is being briefed.
As the plans emerged for the development of the Brooklyn Bridge Park more than a decade ago, it became clear to the BHA and others in the community that the 110-foot hotel/residential complex planned for the area adjacent to Pier 1 (now known as Pierhouse) would interfere with the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade. As a result, the BHA led the community in reducing the height of that building and obtaining a 100-foot height limitation. That height was selected in relationship to the 97-foot height of the structure in that general area at the time, the Cold Storage Warehouse. Standing on the Promenade at a point between Pierrepont and Clark Streets, it appeared that a three-foot higher building would still preserve the Promenade views of the Bridge, its roadways, and its necklace.
That agreement to limit the height of Pierhouse to 100 feet was incorporated in the General Project Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Park in 2005 and 2006. An agreement to ensure that there would be no violation of the Scenic View Plane (a view across the East River protected by statute) was incorporated in those documents as well.
Years passed before the development of Pier 1. At some point in those years, the plans changed. During the construction of the north section of Pierhouse it gradually became apparent that the building was much higher than the 100 feet that had been agreed to: the roofline with parapets is approximately 10 feet higher and there are two huge bulkheads on top of the roof, one 20-feet and one 30-feet high.
In late December of 2014 a community organization called Save the View Now (STVN) arose to lead a fight against these violations of the 100-foot height agreement.
As STVN delved into the matter, it also learned that Pierhouse was not even located where it had been shown in the plans presented during the environmental review process—the southern end of the taller northern building was located north of Squibb Park in the plans presented to the community in 2005 and 2006. By moving that supposedly 100-foot building south, the expected improved views from Squibb Park and the Middagh Street area were completely destroyed and views from the Promenade even more negatively impacted.
After failed attempts to have the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the Empire State Development Corporation, and Toll Brothers correct these violations, STVN began a lawsuit asking a court to correct them. BHA has supported STVN’s efforts from the beginning. Unfortunately, the case was dismissed, a decision that is now on appeal to the Appellate Division.
Finally, as the penthouse on the southern building emerged, it became apparent that at least part of it violated the Scenic View Plane (an explicit statutory protection of views from the Promenade), also in violation of the General Project Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Statement. BHA and STVN together have filed a separate lawsuit in connection with that violation. That case is awaiting decision on the motion for a preliminary injunction and the cross motion for dismissal.
From The New York Times (Jan. 25, 2016): “By Blocking View of the Brooklyn Bridge, a Building Incites a Battle”
The BHA and STVN statement on the Scenic View Plane lawsuit can be read here.
The BHA and STVN complaint is here.
The BHA’s press release on the SV-1 violation is here.
View a diagram depicting the SV-1 Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District here.
For more information, visit the Save the View Now website here.