Brooklyn Heights

Trouble at both ends of Brooklyn Bridge Park

Separate groups fight Pier 6 towers, try to save Brooklyn Bridge view

January 20, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two advocacy groups say they won’t be uniting in their fight against two unrelated developments in Brooklyn Bridge Park – one at the southern end at Pier 6, and one further north near Pier 1. Left: A rendering of one of more than a dozen Pier 6 proposals, courtesy of Asymptote Architecture. Right: The Pierhouse project near Pier 1. Photo by Mary Frost
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Two different advocacy groups are fighting two separate developments in Brooklyn Bridge Park – one at the southern end at Pier 6, and one further north near Pier 1.

Despite the fact that the issues appear to be similar, opponents plan to go their own separate ways in battling developments in the park.

Save the View Now, headed by Brooklyn Heights resident Steven Guterman, seeks to trim the height of the Pierhouse hotel and condo project going up near Pier 1. Pierhouse partially blocks the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Heights Promenade, contrary to an agreement advocates say was ironed out years ago.

At the park’s southern end, the Save Pier 6 advocacy group, headed by fellow Heights resident Lori Schomp, is seeking to put a stop to plans to build two high rise residential towers near Pier 6.

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When asked about joining forces with Schomp’s group, Guterman told the Brooklyn Eagle, “The legal issues … are very different so will likely need to be pursued as independent actions.”

“These two different issues on the far ends of the park have very different timing needs, totally different histories, totally different zoning, contractual, architectural, visual and ethical problems,” said Heights preservationist Martin Schneider.

“Because it is at this very moment under construction, the Pierhouse problem must be dealt with and treated with all deliberate speed.  The vast concerned community needs to be totally focused like a laser beam on that unnecessary, view-blocking structure,” he added.

Both issues have garnered roughly 4,000 signatures on petitions, and both groups have expressed concern with what they call a lack of transparency by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC).

“Lori and I are in communication and both strongly agree we need to get much greater transparency from the BBPC,” Guterman said. BBPC is backing both development projects.

Advocates, including state Senator Daniel Squadron, have complained about what they call flawed financial projections for the park, and BBPC’s refusal to disclose the list of real estate developers bidding on the Pier 6 development.

At BBPC’s November board meeting at St. Francis College, Board President Regina Myer said the board was acting in a fully transparent manner.

“As you saw today, the board saw our full audited financials,” she told the crowd.

Both Save Pier 6 and Save the View Now will be presenting at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council (CAC) meeting to be held on January 27 from 6:30 – 9 p.m. at Congregation Mount Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West.

Save Pier 6 is also sponsoring a town hall on Saturday, January 24 at 3 p.m. at the Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church, 125 Henry St. (Those attending may submit questions in advance to [email protected].)

About Save Pier 6

Save Pier 6 advocates have pushed to put the Pier 6 development on pause while revisiting the park’s 10-year-old General Project Plan (GPP). Supporters say there have been many changes in Brooklyn Heights since the GPP was written, including a boom in local population, overcrowded schools, an increase in traffic, further development in the pipeline and other issues.

While the group says that income from the Pier 6 development is not necessary, BBPC argues that revenue from the Pier 6 development is needed to support ongoing park maintenance, operations and pier repairs.

About Save the View Now

The goal of Save the View Now is to force the Pierhouse developer, Toll Brothers, to stick to an agreement struck with the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) in 2005, which negotiated a hotel height limit of 100 feet to protect the iconic view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

“In recent months, we have watched in stunned disbelief as construction of the Pierhouse has obscured those views,” BHA said in a statement on Jan. 5.

BBPC’s Myer told the BHA that current park leadership didn’t hear about this agreement until just this September, and denied that the agreement to preserve the bridge view was “codified” in the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

BBPC also maintains that “the northern portion of the project does not lie within the protected Special Scenic View District,” and that rooftop mechanical equipment is permitted to exceed the 100’ height limit at the northern end.

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