About This Issue

2.1.4_BrooklynSpeaksThe BHA is a member of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition with 10 other civic and community-based organizations. BrooklynSpeaks was originally launched in 2006 to address the City’s and State’s lack of transparency with respect to the governance of the Atlantic Yards Project, advocate for public involvement in the project’s decision-making process, and force attention to the project’s adverse environmental impacts and the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2014, BrooklynSpeaks sued Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, the project’s developer, over the project’s racial discrimination with regard to its displacement of the area’s minority residents. A court settlement was reached which greatly accelerated the completion of the project’s affordable housing and established the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, which provided for greater involvement by representatives of the affected communities in oversight of the project. However, the settlement also meant an effective end to BrooklynSpeaks’ original role.

A New Mission: Focused on Overdevelopment

A new mission for BrooklynSpeaks has resulted from ongoing discussions initiated by the BHA with representatives of the coalition since the fall of 2015. The principals involved have reformulated BrooklynSpeaks’ mission around the issue of overdevelopment throughout the borough. They are developing a set of principles and strategies to contribute more effectively to policy and political debates on this issue within Brooklyn, as well as citywide. The BHA envisions BrooklynSpeaks as an appropriate platform to support its response to the development projects in and around Downtown Brooklyn that threaten to create a wall around Brooklyn Heights.

A Collective Voice for Comprehensive Planning

Since BrooklynSpeaks represents a coalition of downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods, it can serve as a collective voice in advocating for City development policies that give much stronger heed to the need for comprehensive planning, adequate investment in the infrastructure needed to support new development, and greater concern for the historic fabric, scale, and quality-of-life concerns of neighborhoods.  

Learn More

For more on BrooklynSpeaks and the coalition of community-based organizations that are part of this initiative, go here.

Update

The Fortis Property Group announced in November 2016 that it would build the As-Of-Right (AOR) Plan rather than the substantially larger ULURP Plan. Since the AOR Plan complies with existing zoning, Fortis is able to undertake it without any City approvals. When Fortis presented the two options in May 2015, the AOR plan consisted of nearly 900,000 square feet of development with four towers rising 35, 28, 16 and 14 floors in addition to 4-story rowhouses. 

In its 2015 presentation, Fortis informed the community that the four towers included approximately 530 units of market-rate housing, a substantial community facility that could be a college dormitory, and the NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Center.  There would be no affordable housing, public school or retail facilities, all of which would only be part of a ULURP Plan. However, until Fortis releases its AOR plans, it is not known what the design or exact configuration of the AOR project will be.  

In preparation for the start of construction, Fortis will demolish the garage at 352 Hicks Street, the pharmacy/nurses’ residence at 349 Henry Street and the Dog Lab at 112 Pacific Street.  Permits for interior demolition of the latter two buildings have already been obtained.  The pedestrian bridge over Amity Street is also being removed to convert the Polhemus Building into apartments.

The demolition of the hospital buildings on Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street has been on-going throughout much of 2016.  The new NYU Langone facility will have about 160,000 square feet served by a 400 person staff, including more than 70 doctors, and a surgical suite for outpatient procedures.  Its stand-alone emergency department will serve 75-90 patients daily using 22 beds.  Emergency patients requiring more advanced care will be transferred to a hospital with in-patient services. 

An investigation begun in July 2016 by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is looking onto Mayor de Blasio’s role in the sale of Long Island College Hospital to Fortis.  Despite the Mayor’s promise to keep LICH open during his campaign, de Blasio subsequently supported the sale after his election and after soliciting contributions to his Campaign for One New York from developers bidding to acquire LICH from SUNY Downstate.

Following the announcement of the investigation, the BHA released a statement that it “is gratified that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating potential wrongdoing by Mayor de Blasio in the sale of the Long Island College Hospital.  We would urge the U.S. Attorney’s office to also investigate what the BHA and six other community  organizations alleged, in a letter sent to the U.S. Attorney in September 2014, to be serious misconduct and violation of law by SUNY during its acquisition, operation and closing of LICH.  To our knowledge, those allegations were not investigated at that time.”

Background on the closure of LICH and the investigation can be found here.


About This Issue

The Long Island College Hospital (LICH) served residents of downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods for over 150 years. The State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center operated LICH after buying it from Continuum Health Partners on May 27, 2011. Citing ongoing operating deficits, SUNY closed LICH on May 22, 2014, despite intensive local opposition and lengthy litigation.

Following a contentious bidding process, SUNY then sold the 4.8-acre LICH site for $240 million to the Fortis Property Group. Fortis selected NYU Langone to operate a medical center and freestanding emergency facility, but not a full-service hospital, and proposed a massive redevelopment of the remaining LICH site.

In seeking bids for the LICH site, SUNY set no restrictions on the scale of the development proposals. By ignoring the 50-foot height limitation of the adjacent Brooklyn Heights’ and Cobble Hills’ historic districts, the State sought to maximize revenue from the sale at the expense of the communities.

In May 2015, Fortis shocked neighborhood residents when it released two alternate development schemes: an As-of-Right Plan (AOR) and ULURP Plan.


“As-of-Right” Plan Does NOT Require Approval

As-of-Right Plan (AOR)

The AOR plan would not be subject to the City’s approval process since it complies with existing zoning requirements. Within its 896,490 total square feet (SF), there would be 528,935 SF of market-rate housing, a 262,555 SF community facility, for which Fortis proposed a college dormitory, and a 105,000 SF NYU Medical Center. Four towers of 35, 28, 16 and 14 floors would rise adjacent to 4-story rowhouses. The AOR plan would have no affordable housing.

ULURP Plan Significantly Larger

2.1.3_FORTIS_LICH_ULURP

ULURP Plan

In exchange for a mix of “community benefits,” Fortis’ ULURP Plan, so-called because it would require City approval through the Uniform Land Use Review Process, would be significantly larger at 1.28 million SF. In addition to about 900 market-rate housing units in 900,000 SF, it would also include 225,000 SF of affordable housing, a 40,000 SF public school, and 10,000 SF of retail, as well as the NYU Medical Center.

The ULURP plan includes 120-180 units of senior housing above the school, and converts the popular “tot lot” on Hicks Street into a public school playground. The ULURP Plan would be subject to a 6-month public review with final approval by the City Council.


Broad Opposition by Elected Officials and Coalition of Community Group

Fortis has claimed that the ULURP Plan would be more sensitive to Cobble Hill because the bulk of the development is located in the northwest corner of Cobble Hill, away from the heart of its historic district, closer to Brooklyn Heights. However, Fortis has been unwilling to engage in meaningful discussion with the community and its elected officials to devise a smaller ULURP plan that might gain local support. For that reason, Councilman Brad Lander, Senator Daniel Squadron, and Assemblywoman Jo Ann Simon publicly announced their opposition to the Fortis ULURP Plan at the Cobble Hill Association’s (CHA) November 18, 2015 Annual Meeting. Their positions reflected the input that CHA obtained from 20 block association meetings, Lander’s online survey, and public meetings. In December 2015, the community presented the Mayor’s Office with 2,400 signatures on a petition opposing the ULURP Plan.


BHA Fully Engaged in Planning of New Medical Center

The BHA has been a full participant in the public engagement process over the summer and fall of 2015 that sought to broker a compromise over the shape and dimension of the Fortis redevelopment of LICH. In addition to supporting CHA’s position, the BHA is a participant in the LICH Transformational Planning Group that is reviewing and commenting on plans for NYU Langone Medical Center, an ambulatory care center that is replacing LICH’s Othmer Building.

NYU has proposed a 160,000 SF facility at 70 Atlantic Avenue, off Hicks Street, that is scheduled to open in 2018. It will provide outpatients with such services as multispecialty ambulatory surgery, a cancer center, a diagnostic imaging center, a laboratory, clinical pharmacy, and physicians’ offices. The freestanding emergency department will have 10 patient bays, 12 private flex-patient spaces and two inpatient beds. Patients requiring services that cannot be accommodated at the Cobble Hill facility will be transported to the NYU Medical Center in Manhattan or to NYU Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park.

Learn More

The BHA and CHA have jointly submitted this letter to NYU articulating our concerns regarding traffic, parking and accessibility issues arising from the Medical Center, and seeking to be more directly involved in the planning study being performed by NYU’s traffic consultant, Sam Schwartz, the former NYC Commissioner of Transportation. NYU’s response can be found here.

For more detail on the Fortis/LICH project, view the developer’s website here.

Update

2.1.2_PIER_6_AERIAL-FINAL-03

In June 2016, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (the “Park Corporation”) announced that it would proceed with the two planned Pier 6 towers even though the Empire State Development Corporation had declined to approve the requested modification to the General Project Plan. As a consequence, the BHA filed an Article 78 Petition with the New York State Supreme Court in July that: 1) seeks to enforce the commitment in the Park’s governing General Project Plan to limit housing on Pier 6 to only that necessary to support the Park, 2) calls for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement in light of the significant changes in our community since 2006, and 3) challenges several of the procedures followed in the development of the Pier 6 project. A court hearing has been scheduled for March 6, 2017. The BHA is represented by Jenner & Block acting as pro bono counsel.

About This Issue

The BHA continues to work with neighborhood groups, primarily People for Green Space Foundation (PFGSF) and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, to ensure that the Park Corporation lives up to the commitments it made in 2005-2006 to build only that amount of housing in the park which is required to maintain the park.  We take this commitment very seriously. We were among the groups that acquiesced to the reality that the Park had to be self-supporting and that some level of revenue-generating development on Pier 6 might become necessary. But our agreement was predicated on a firm commitment, memorialized in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the General Project Plan, that housing on Pier 6 would be built only if it was demonstrated unequivocally that it was financially necessary to support the maintenance and operations of the park.  We firmly believed then, and continue to believe today, that the piers we and others worked so hard to save from development should be parkland for Brooklyn.

A Rush to Build, A Lack of Transparency

As the Park Corporation prepared to move forward with the original plan to build two huge towers on Pier 6, one 15 stories and the other 30 stories, members of our community began to question whether that development was necessary. In particular, this question arose from the huge increase that has occurred in real estate values in this area in the past ten years that would necessarily mean that the already existing commercial projects in the Park, One Brooklyn Bridge, Pierhouse, John Street and Empire Stores, would generate far more revenue for the Park than was anticipated in 2005-6. Since the financial structure of the Park permits it to receive all property tax payments from development within its boundaries (known as payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTS), the more valuable the property taxed, the more revenue the Park receives. The BHA, PFGSF, our local elected officials and the Park’s Community Advisory Council all asked the management of the Park for its financial model with its underlying data so that we could independently assess what revenue, if any, it would need from Pier 6.  The BHA even filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for that information.  The BBPC staff refused to provide the model and data that underlies their position that Pier 6 housing is necessary to support the Park until the BHA filed its Article 78 petition in July 2016.

A Surprise Rise in Near-Term Expenses

As the community began to question some of the Park’s financial revenue assumptions, the Park Corporation also announced that its expense budget was higher than the one they had been relying upon for years. Its expenses had greatly increased due to its choice to use a new  method of repairing the piles that support the piers.  Whereas for the past decade the Park Corporation  had planned to use a reactive maintenance approach that involved wrapping each pile in concrete when it had neared the end of its useful life, it now proposed a preventative approach that involved using an epoxy grout on many piles even before the end of their useful lives.  Whereas the reactive approach spread the costs of pile repair over approximately 40 years, the new approach required the expenditure of $90 million in 2016—thus allegedly requiring the development of housing on Pier 6 to pay for it.

Affordable Housing Confuses the Issue

When the Request For Proposals for development of the Pier 6 towers emerged, it immediately became apparent that the City was violating its commitment to build only that amount of housing needed to support the Park.  Instead of using the improved real estate market to reduce the scale of the towers planned for Pier 6, the City decided to keep the housing exactly the same and make approximately 30% of it affordable housing.  Without seeing one number at that time from the Park, it was patently obvious that the housing could be significantly smaller than originally planned since at least 30% of the revenue from this project was not needed.   While the BHA is not opposed to affordable housing, for more than a decade it has been opposed to any housing in the middle of desperately needed parkland unless it is needed to support the Park. 

First Lawsuit Calls for a Supplemental EIS

Frustrated by the lack of disclosure and dialogue on the central question of whether Pier 6 housing was needed, PFGSF filed a lawsuit, primarily arguing that given all of the changes in our neighborhood since the preparation of the original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the Park Corporation should be ordered to prepare a supplemental EIS to reflect those changes.  PFGSF asked the court to consider changes in school population, traffic, and flooding, as well as the changed economic conditions since the original conclusion that no alternatives existed to the proposed towers.  The law firm of Jenner & Block, acting as pro bono counsel for the BHA, prepared an amicus brief in support of PFGSF. 

Before any court decision, however, a settlement was reached with PFGSF. The defendants essentially agreed that their plan to build affordable housing on Pier 6 violated the General Project Plan which limited housing to only that financially necessary and that they would therefore commence a multi-step process to amend the General Project Plan to permit affordable housing.  Amendments to the General Project Plan must be approved by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD).  To our shock, the amendment submitted to the ESD did not simply request permission to build affordable housing, but asked the ESD to eliminate the fundamental commitment that had been made in 2006—that financial necessity would be the pre-condition of any development on Pier 6.

The Failed and Futile ESD Proceeding

2.1.2_PIER6_ACREAGEIn accordance with the procedures established in the settlement of the PFGSF lawsuit, the BHA and others in our community provided hours of testimony and submitted thousands of pages in opposition to the proposed modification. The BHA and two local community group partners released three reports on February 29, 2016, in the continuing effort to demonstrate that real estate development on Pier 6 to fund Park maintenance is premature, at best, and very likely unnecessary at all. The first report was done by an expert appraiser who was tasked with calculating what the likely revenue will be from existing projects in the Park; the second analyzed the impact of the findings of the appraiser on the Park’s financial model; the third evaluated the Park’s new approach to maintaining the piles. The reports raise significant questions as to whether the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (“BBPC”) has significantly understated the revenue it will receive from the existing projects in the Park (One Brooklyn Bridge, Pierhouse, Empire Stores and John Street) and whether it chose an inappropriate method of pile repair that would, at a minimum, increase its near-term expenses significantly. The letter to Board members of the Park CorporationBBPC and the ESD Empire State Development Corporation which summarizes the findings of the three reports, as well as the three reports, can be found below in “Learn More.” This lengthy and time consuming procedure ultimately led nowhere. The ESD declined to rule on the request for a modification and the City announced that it would proceed with its plan anyway. In June the Park CorporationBBPC Board approved the Pier 6 towers. It should at least be noted that before that vote the BHA proposed a compromise solution in which, essentially, we agreed to support the development of affordable housing in the underutilized building at 340 Furman Street in exchange for a delay in the development of the towers until the existing developments in the Park were appraised by the New York City Department of Finance and the revenue stream they would provide to the Park became clear. That proposal was rejected. The BHA was left with no path forward other than litigation, which it has now commenced.

Learn More

For more background information on this issue, visit www.savepier6.org

Below are links to key documents and articles:

August 2015

The BHA’s letter to the Empire State Development Corporation Board and to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Board, dated August 24, 2015, signed by 17 civic organizations and Public Advocate Letitia James, can be found here.

July 2015

The BHA’s statement made at the public hearing in July 2015 on the proposed modification to the General Project Plan can be found here.

November 2015

A Brooklyn Eagle editorial can be found here.

February/March 2016

Click here for the joint letter from the BHA, People for Green Space Foundation, and Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund summarizing the three reports the group commissioned to demonstrate that real estate development on Pier 6 to fund park maintenance is premature, at best, and very likely unnecessary at all.

The three reports can be found here:

Appraisal Report: This report by an expert appraiser calculates the likely revenue from existing projects in the park.

Impact on Financial Model: This report analyzed the impact of the appraisal findings of on the park’s financial model.

Pile Maintenance Analysis: expenditure that could be avoided at this time. The Brooklyn Eagle’s coverage of the release of the group’s findings can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal’s coverage can be found here.

Update

2.1.1_Pierhouse_Heights_Press 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.  

About This Issue

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.

Height Agreement Clearly Documented

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.

2.1.1_PIERHOUSE_STVN_POSTEREnter “Save the View Now”

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.

Discussion Failed, Lawsuit Filed

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.  

Learn More

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.

Update

In late 2015, Anbau Enterprises, a Manhattan-based developer of high-end residential properties, offered $75 million to the Whitman Owners Corporation, with the intent of acquiring Pineapple Walk to build a 40-story luxury condo with new retail spaces. The funds would significantly augment Whitman’s ability to maintain 75 Henry Street, and each of its 374 shareholders would benefit personally from the sale.  To the amazement and delight of the Brooklyn Heights community, the shareholders rejected Anbau’s offer by a decisive margin, 191 to 112.  As a result, the Whitman board has stated that it will not consider further offers from developers in the foreseeable future. 

About This Issue

In the current construction boom, developers are leaving no plot of land unexamined in their search for available building sites. Brooklyn Heights is particularly attractive to developers eager to cash in on its location, quality of life, and spectacular views, so it did not come as a surprise when Anbau Enterprises identified Pineapple Walk as ripe for redevelopment.

2.1.7_PINEAPPLE_WALK__

View of Pineapple Walk

The co-op board established a process to enable its shareholders the opportunity to decide whether to proceed with assessing the offer, or to reject it outright. The shareholders met January 11, 2016, to discuss the offer and their votes were tallied on January 15th.

2.1.7_PINEAPPLE_WALK_PETER_BRAY

BHA’s Peter Bray Addresses Public Forum

 

The shareholders’ rejection of  Anbau’s offer was even more surprising given that Anbau increased its offer from $75 million to $130 million days before the scheduled vote.

The community expressed its concerns prior to the vote at a public forum attended by hundreds of residents, including some from 75 Henry Street. Many resided at 140 Cadman Plaza, 101 Clark Street, and 10 Clinton Street, which, along with 75 Henry, were originally built in the 1960s as middle-income apartments under the Mitchell Lama Program when the site underwent “slum clearance”  as part of the federal urban renewal program. Of these buildings, only 75 Henry Street had voted against extending their participation in the Mitchell Lama Program, which enables their shareholders to sell their shares at market rate.  

The BHA, which addressed the community forum, provided a letter (See below) to the Whitman shareholders and released the following statement after their vote:  “The BHA commends the shareholders of 75 Henry Street for the courage of their convictions.  Their rejection of Anbau Enterprises’ offer to purchase Pineapple Walk for a luxury condominium that would have added to the neighborhood’s congestion and school overcrowding and blocked their neighbor’s views is a dramatic statement that some things, such as what it means to be part of a community, are truly priceless.  They placed a higher value on preserving the integrity of their community than on the cash they would have received, and for that, we are sincerely and deeply appreciative.  Brooklyn Heights is fortunate to have them as our neighbors.”

Learn More

The BHA’s letter to the Whitman Owner Corporation shareholders encouraged them to consider rejecting the offer.

At its 2016 Annual meeting, the BHA recognized the Whitman Owners Corporation with its Good Neighbor Award.

Coverage of this story in The Brooklyn Eagle can be found here.

Update

In May 2016, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership released a Community Vision Plan for nearly 50 acres of parks, plazas and walkways that reflected two years of community workshops and planning. Developed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design with input from residents, community groups, elected officials and City agencies, the plan set forth a set of recommendations for major changes to the disconnected green spaces that exist between Borough Hall and the Brooklyn waterfront.  The City will review the recommendations and determine which of these recommendations can and will be implemented, which will largely depend on as yet unidentified sources of funding.

Among the plan’s specific recommendations are to create a “Gateway to Brooklyn” from the Brooklyn Bridge and a market under the bridge at the Anchorage Plaza in Dumbo, reopen the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Park for public use, and realign portions of the ramps to the BQE to improve the connections between currently isolated parcels of open space.

About This Issue

2.1.6_BROOKLYN_STRAND__0_Aerial-HRes-1400-xxx_q85The Brooklyn Strand Project was conceived to link and improve disconnected parks, plazas and green spaces from the Borough Hall area and Downtown Brooklyn to Brooklyn Bridge Park. If fully implemented, it would reclaim open space ignored by the Parks Department or made inaccessible by the BQE in order to create a world-class promenade providing pedestrian access to the waterfront from Downtown Brooklyn’s transit hubs.

Big changes could be coming to a 21-acre swath of unconnected parks, public spaces and plazas running from Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn to Brooklyn Bridge Park. At a public meeting of Community Board 2’s Parks and Recreation Committee shone a spotlight on the plan to connect and reinvigorate these public spaces, dubbed the Brooklyn Strand.The Brooklyn Strand would consist of two sets of spaces: 1) the 27.9-acre Cadman Connector, which would incorporate Borough Hall Park, the Korean War Veterans Plaza, Whitman Park, Cadman Plaza Park, the Anchorage Plaza, and Old Fulton Plaza; and 2) the 12.9-acre BQE Connector, which would tie together the open spaces under and along the BQE from the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges to Commodore Barry Park adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and a design team led by WXY Studio sponsored 250 workshops and meetings in 2015 to elicit ideas from stakeholders within the affected communities, including the BHA. (See “Learn More” for the workshop recommendations.) Though it is unlikely that the final plan can be fully implemented at once, the Partnership anticipates that segments can be completed as funding becomes eligible. 2.1.6_BROOKLYN_STRAND_scene

In July 2015, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams allocated $1 Million towards the estimated $11.8 Million expense of transforming the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Park, closed to the public more than 25 years ago, into a visitor’s center with a rooftop café, events space, and a veteran’s wall of honor. The result will be an improved Cadman Park. Another $500,000 will fund improvements to Borough Hall Park.

Learn More

For a comprehensive view of the possibilities for the Brooklyn Strand initiative, see the Brooklyn Strand Urban Design Action Plan featuring recommendations by community groups, including the BHA.

For more on the Brooklyn Strand initiative: Downtownbrooklyn.com

For more on the Brooklyn War Memorial renovation: Curbed.com DNAinfo.com

Update

2.1.5_LIBRARY_XTERIOROn December 16, 2015, the New York City Council approved the plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights branch library site into a high-rise condominium tower that will house a new state-of-the-art library. An interim library at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 95 Remsen Street, opened on July 26, 2016. Demolition and construction of the branch library site is expected to begin in fall 2016 and be completed in 2020.  As a result of changes approved by the City Council, the new library will have 26,620 square feet on three levels, and the building will also contain 9,000 square feet for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classrooms and labs on the lower level operated by the Department of Education, with access from a dedicated lobby on Clinton Street.  An additional 5,000-square-foot library will be built near the Farragut Houses in Vinegar Hill. The bas-relief friezes on the existing library will be carefully removed and stored for possible reinstallation in the new library.


About This Issue

T2.1.5_LIBRARY_INTERIORhe BHA has supported the Brooklyn Public Library’s plan to redevelop the site of the Brooklyn Heights branch library because we believe that a state-of-the-art library will benefit our neighborhood, the associated 114-units of affordable housing will benefit the CB2 community, and the funds generated will benefit libraries throughout the borough.

The BHA’s support was contingent upon the Brooklyn Public Library’s commitment to uninterrupted interim library service during construction, and guarantees that the proceeds from the sale will go to capital improvements of other branches of the Brooklyn Public Library.  In addition, the BHA lobbied for all service entrances to the library and the condominium to be located on the Cadman Plaza side of the lot, rather than on Clinton Street.

Learn More

The Brooklyn Public Library has information about the project on its website here.

Council Member Steve Levin has written about why he supports the project here.

The most recent public plans for the building are available here.

The BHA’s testimony before the City Council is here.