The BHA filed a lawsuit in July 2016 against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) and Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), as well as the two developers chosen to build two towers on Pier 6, to halt their development. The BHA’s action followed the BBPC Board’s decision in June 2016 to proceed with the construction of the 15-story and 30-story towers. On December 5, 2016, Justice Lucy Billings of the NYS Supreme Court agreed to hear opposing arguments. The hearing, originally scheduled for March 6th, has been postponed to a later date. The BHA will post that date as soon as the new hearing date is known.
The BBPC’s approval of the Pier 6 project occurred despite the fact that ESDC did not approve BBPC’s earlier request to modify the General Project Plan, which governs the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Specifically, it limits commercial development in the park to only that amount of housing necessary to operate and maintain the park.
The BHA, along with People for Green Space Foundation and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, have questioned the necessity of the Pier 6 towers given the huge increase in real estate values in this area over the past ten years. The values of the BBPC’s existing real estate developments, as determined by the NYC Department of Finance, will be the basis for the payments in lieu of taxes that fund the park’s operations. In particular, we believe that One Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pierhouse, John Street and Empire Stores will generate far more revenue than BBPC anticipated in 2005-06 when the General Project Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)were produced.
In addition to questioning BBPC’s revenue assumptions, we also questioned why the Park Corporation switched its approach to repairing the pilings that support the park’s piers to one that requires their repair all at once rather than being spread over a 40 year period. In our view, the combination of accelerating the park’s expenses while undervaluing its revenues are the basis of the BBPC’s claim that the 30-story tower is required to support its operations. Indeed, the BBPC itself admits that it has no financial need for the 15-story tower it has approved.
Now that our lawsuit has given us the opportunity to fully analyze the BBPC’s financial model, we have identified numerous errors – some of which BBPC has now admitted – that understate the revenue the existing developments will generate. As a result, we continue to believe that a fair assessment of the Park’s current financial condition and an objective review of its maintenance needs would demonstrate that the massive real estate development the BBPC Board approved last June is unnecessary — and the Pier 6 parcels should be devoted, at least temporarily if not permanently, to Park uses at the critically important Atlantic Avenue entrance.
In July 2016, the BHA filed an Article 78 Petition with the court that seeks to: 1) enforce the limit on housing in the park to only that necessary to support the park; 2) require the BBPC and ESDC to undertake a Supplemental EIS that addresses the previously disregarded overcrowding in local elementary schools and, in view of the tremendous escalation in property values, to meaningfully consider newly-feasible alternatives, such as doing no building, building less housing, or deferring the development until the City has completed the valuation of its existing real estate developments, and 3) challenge key procedures followed by the BBPC in pursuing the Pier 6 project.
The BBPC and the developers have committed to providing three weeks notice before the start of any Pier 6 construction. In the event that the BBPC notifies the BHA that it will start construction before March 6, the BHA is prepared to file an order to show cause for emergency relief to delay construction until after the hearing.