Brooklyn Heights

Judge partially halts construction of Pierhouse project in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Save the View Now initiates lawsuit; BBP calls group’s claims ‘spurious’

April 23, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Workers on the roof of the incomplete Pierhouse, at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Mary Frost
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The preservationist group Save the View Now announced on Thursday that a Brooklyn judge has issued a partial Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Pierhouse development at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, pending the outcome of a lawsuit the group filed on Tuesday.

Steven Guterman, who heads the group, said the TRO issued by state Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel temporarily halts work on the penthouse section of the shorter residential building known as Parcel B, at 130 Furman St.

Save the View Now says in its complaint that both sections of the hotel/residential project are taller than originally promised, partially blocking the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade.

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The height limits were negotiated by the Brooklyn Heights Association and preservationist Otis Pearsall, among others, in 2005.

The project is “in violation of the 2006 Modified General Project Plan, which limits the height of Parcel A, to the north, to 100 feet and Parcel B to 55 feet,” inclusive of bulkheads or other additions, Guterman said at a press conference on Thursday.

“Instead of staying inside the limit, Toll Brothers added 6 feet by starting to measure from a higher point, not the sidewalk, and another 4 feet of parapets,” he said. “Then, they added multiple bulkheads on the roof, the tallest being 30 feet. That is massive,” Guterman said.

The penthouse section affected by the TRO extends to 72 feet – “Way above the 55-foot limit stated in the documents,” he said.

Guterman also alleged that the size and location of the parcels has changed from the original plan. “Parcel A, the north building, is 100 feet closer [to the Promenade]. It feels bigger and blocks the views.

“It does not match what was originally shown to the public. We’re asking the court to rectify that.”

A spokesperson for Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) said in a statement late Wednesday, “We are pleased that under today’s decision construction at the Pier 1 development will continue. This lawsuit is an unfortunate attempt to enshrine the unprotected views of a select few at the expense of the millions who use the park.

“The Pier 1 development underwent an extensive, transparent design review process dating back to 2011. All design changes, including modifications following Hurricane Sandy, were shared and discussed publicly,” BBP said. “These buildings comply with the park’s General Project Plan and the Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District. We’re confident that the plaintiff’s spurious claims will not be permitted to interfere with the completion of the Pier 1 project, which will provide critical funding to keep the park safe and well-maintained for park visitors for years to come.”

In a joint statement released late Thursday, local elected officials said the lawsuit and TRO “reinforce real concerns about the projects on Pier 1.”

“These developments again highlight the need for real community process on park decision-making and the complications that arise from development in the park,” state Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Stephen Levin and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said. “Our constituents need to be able to trust that park processes are transparent, open, truly take community needs into account, and respect our neighborhood’s historic landmarks.”

They added, “It’s alarming when communities are left feeling like the only way to engage with park decision-making is through lawsuits. We’ll continue to work with advocates and community members for a better Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

The case will go to court on May 11, Guterman said. Save the View Now is suing BBP, the City of New York, the Empire State Development Corp., Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp, Toll Brothers Real Estate and Starwood Mortgage Capital LLC.

Updated with statement from elected officials at 7:30 p.m.


Also see: Legal hardball: Brooklyn Heights preservationists put more muscle behind ‘Save the View Now’


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