Brooklyn Heights

Plans unveiled for Pier 6 residential buildings at Brooklyn Bridge Park

June 30, 2015 Special to the Brooklyn Eagle from Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park has announced plans for a joint venture of RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group to develop two residential buildings at the Pier 6 uplands development site. Renderings courtesy of ODA/RAL Development Services/Oliver's Realty Group
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Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) on Tuesday announced plans for a joint venture of RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group to develop two residential buildings at the Pier 6 uplands site. If approved by the BBP Board of Directors, the new project will ensure the long-term financial stability of BBP, add new park space, bring much-needed affordable housing and pre-K seats to the community and generate hundreds of good union jobs.

Adjacent to the southernmost section of the park, the Pier 6 uplands site consists of two parcels, each approximately 10,000 square feet in size. Each of the site’s two buildings would be reduced by three floors from the heights permitted under the Park’s 2005 General Project Plan (GPP) while including a substantial affordable component.

In response to community concerns, the recommended project comprises 339 units — a reduction from the 430 permitted at the site — space for a 75-seat pre-K facility, a 1,500-square-foot community facility, plus ground floor uses and streetscape upgrades to enhance the park experience and create a welcoming gateway to the park.

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The project would be built with union labor under an expected project labor agreement between the developers and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The design architect on the project is ODA New York.

A lawsuit challenging the Pier 6 development site Request for Proposals was settled last month, allowing BBP to move forward with the GPP modification process and recommend this selection to its board of directors.

“Today’s selection marks the culmination of a decade-long effort to solidify Brooklyn Bridge Park’s long-term financial stability,” said Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park. “As the Pier 6 discussion continues, it’s essential that the public has as much information as possible about what’s to come: more parkland, affordable housing, universal pre-k and community facilities. We released 50-year financial projections earlier in June to further inform this process, and we are releasing this information today in that spirit. We’re proud to recommend RAL, which has been a strong partner since the beginning and understands how important this project is — for the park, for the city and for the millions who enjoy this waterfront gem every year.”

“We’ve been proud partners of Brooklyn Bridge Park since day one, and are thrilled to work with the park to complete its funding model,” said Robert A. Levine, president & CEO of RAL Development Services.

“This project has something for everyone: we’re addressing affordable housing needs, creating pre-K and community space, and providing critical funding for long-term park maintenance and operations,” Levine continued. “Thanks to Regina Myer and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. for their partnership — from 360 Furman St. in 2004 to Pier 6 today. We at RAL and Oliver’s are proud to create homes where New Yorkers of mixed incomes can live and raise their families in some of the city’s most treasured locations.”

“We applaud the decision of Brooklyn Bridge Park to select a responsible developer for the construction and operation of Pier 6,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of Build Up NYC. “We believe this is the first step toward investing in safe, good jobs and demonstrates BBP’s commitment to building a stronger middle class by creating real economic opportunities for Brooklyn’s working families. We are encouraged by the selection of a company that has been committed to the safety of workers and the public by ensuring that the construction, operations and maintenance work will be done by workers who have had sufficient training on safe work practices and by employers committed to safe and responsible work practices.”

Under the terms of the settlement reached last month, BBP is seeking a modification to the Park’s GPP in a process encompassing numerous opportunities for public engagement over several months. The boards of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC) and Empire State Development (ESD) both voted last week to allow [the GPP modification process to move forward]. A public hearing on the proposed modifications will be held in late July, incorporating a written comment period, followed by two more public meetings.

Planned since 2005, development of the Pier 6 site is permitted under the park’s GPP for residential development with a maximum height of 315 feet on Parcel A, while Parcel B allows for residential, ground floor retail and a maximum height of 155 feet. Under the terms of the lease, the proposed building on Parcel A would be reduced in height by approximately 30 feet, offer 3,870 square feet of retail space, approximately 192 market-rate condominium units, a resident parking garage and public restrooms adjacent to the park.

The building on Parcel B would also be reduced by approximately 30 feet and include space for a 75-seat pre-K facility, 930 square feet of retail space, 1,500 square feet in community facility space, and a mix of approximately 117 affordable and 30 market-rate rental units. Ultimately, more than 30 percent of the overall units within the proposed project would be dedicated to permanently affordable housing for moderate- and middle-income households, while the education facility would help meet the high demand for pre-K seats in the surrounding community. In addition, potential upgrades made to the adjacent Pier 5/6 Loop Road could result in the addition of 10,000 square feet of parkland.

In 2002, BBP was established with a mandate that the project site itself would generate revenue to maintain the park. That funding is provided by developments on sites at the edges of the park project. Pier 6 is the final development site and will mark a milestone for BBP — completing its long-term financial model and guaranteeing the future of the park. In June 2015, BBP released an updated 50-year financial projection showing that without the Pier 6 development BBP would not be financially self-sufficient and would run out of money in a little more than 10 years. Additionally, BBP announced that it had retained an outside consultant to review the park’s financial model. A copy of that report is expected to be ready soon.

Over the course of the proposed 94-year lease term, the fixed payments from the development site are projected to result in $118 million of net present value to fund park maintenance and operations. RAL & Oliver’s expect to achieve LEED Silver Certification and will work with ODA New York throughout the development project. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2016, with a completion expected in fall 2017.

Following the release of the Pier 6 Request for Proposals in May 2014, BBP received an unprecedented 14 responses. The RAL/Oliver’s plan was determined to be the best proposal by a selection committee comprised of representatives of the park, of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, of the Department of Parks and Recreation and of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, based on the strength of its financial offer, the inclusion of generous public amenities and a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context that inspires a welcoming entrance to the park. If approved by the BBP Board, the project will enliven the southern end of the park and strengthen connections to the growing commercial businesses of Atlantic Avenue and Columbia Street and the Carroll Gardens and Red Hook neighborhoods beyond.

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