Brooklyn Heights

CB2 Committee approves Pier 6 Tower Plan on Brooklyn Bridge Park

Recommends More Low-Income Housing

July 15, 2015 By Dipti Kumar Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members from various community groups listen to the proposed modifications to the General Project Plan presented by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation's Vice President for Real Estate David Lowin at the Community Board 2 meeting on Monday evening at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. Eagle photo by Dipti Kumar
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Members of the Community Board 2 Parks and Recreation Committee on Monday voted 6 to 1 to approve the proposed modifications of the General Project Plan (GPP) that would allow affordable housing in/on the Pier 6 development.

They also recommended that more low-income housing be included in the affordable housing plan.

The decision was made upon hearing the proposed changes to the GPP, as explained by David Lowin, vice president for real estate at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.

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The bigger issue of the evening, however, was the nuanced details in the amended statement in the GPP that had everyone debating whether to vote for or against the modified plan.

The park board inserted a line that stated, “Notwithstanding anything else in the GPP, and without regard to Project finance…” that received much discussion.

“The reason for that section of the modification is to allow the park to include affordable housing without having to justify affordable housing as it relates to how it provides additional revenue,” said Lowin.

The initial version of the GPP stated:

“One building would be approximately 315 feet in height and have up to 290 units; the other building would be approximately 155 feet in height and could contain up to 140 units. This building could possibly include a ground floor retail use.”

The recently amended version now states, “Notwithstanding anything else in the GPP, and without regard to Project finances…the Board of Directors of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the Brooklyn Bridge Park operating entity established by The City of New York, shall have the discretion to determine the number of affordability or residential units in each building and other characteristics of the building, including the types and location of community facility and retail uses, if any, consistent with the Technical Memorandum dated November 2014.”

“The motion we’re taking eliminates only one of the paragraphs,” said committee member Andrew Lestowecky in an attempt to clarify the arguments.

“It is an attempt to eliminate the commitment [to the community],” said Carolyn Ziegler, a lawyer and director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. The commitment in this case being to build the minimum development necessary to cover the park’s maintenance and operations needs.

The park maintains that it seeks to use the revenue generated from the development to help with maintenance and operation costs that will be incurred in the future.

Attendees persisted that voting in favor of the GPP could open up a can of worms.

“This modification, which you have been asked to vote on, gives the BBPC total discretion to do whatever it wants there… so long as it doesn’t exceed these heights and the 430 units…that means they can recommend a developer to the board; they can even enter a contract with their board. But if during the design process they want to make changes, they have total authorization. You are giving them total authorization to do whatever they want on Pier 6 as far as housing goes. They could, in fact, decide…well maybe we can’t afford the affordable housing…this land was supposed to be parkland,” said Ziegler.

Affording Affordable Housing

Other issues that were brought up included the affordability of affordable housing and how people would be selected to occupy those units.

“Right now, low-income people have no apartments in this design,” said Barbara Zahler-Gringer, a member of the CB2 Committee.

The committee agreed that it was necessary to include low-income housing in the affordable housing mix.

According to the New York City Housing Development Corporation, the median income for a family of four in Manhattan is $66,000, as compared to $44,000 for a Brooklyn family and $54,000 in Queens. This year’s Average Median Income (AMI) is $86,300 for a family of four.

“At 80 percent, your lowest level, you’re still talking $69,000, that’s still above the price range for every borough,” said Bell Flounoy, a member of the CB2 Committee.

“We don’t dispute that we need affordable housing lower than this…it is a fact of life in New York City that even at these levels we are talking about there is a need for affordable housing,” said Lowin.

“I think saying affordable is a misnomer. I think this is moderate,” said Flounoy.

Additional concerns that were raised pertained to overcrowding in schools and closing off the elbow loop road located between park drive and the park itself.

The CB2 full board meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 15 at 6 p.m. at St. Francis College, (180 Remsen St.) in Brooklyn Heights.

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