Brooklyn Heights

Final OK on Pier 6 plan expected Tuesday

City Finance Department says claims of $800 million surplus inaccurate

June 6, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is set to OK a plan to develop Pier 6. Shown: Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Rob Abruzzese

Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) is set to OK on Tuesday a recently revised plan to develop two residential towers in the park at Pier 6. The vote is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. in NYU Dibner Pfizer Auditorium at 5 MetroTech Center.

At press time on the eve of the meeting and vote, there were still irreconcilable differences between a coalition fighting the Pier 6 development and BBPC and its supporters.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a last-minute letter to BBPC on Monday expressing his concern with the Pier 6 project and urging that the park board delay the vote and sit down with the community to negotiate. Failing to do so, he said, “will result in greater delays and animosity.”

Sources told the Brooklyn Eagle that BBPC will be basing its decision in part on the NYC Department of Finance’s (DOF) rejection of claims by project opponents that the development is not necessary to support the park.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is obligated to be financially self-sufficient, but is bound by a longstanding community agreement to allow only the amount of development necessary.

The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund and the People for Green Space Foundation (PFGSF) — community groups that have been fighting the controversial towers — released two privately-funded studies in February which concluded that the park would be running an $800 million surplus, even without the Pier 6 towers.

DOF says, however, that the studies used a method to establish the value of the Pier 6 and surrounding real estate that is different from the one use by DOF. The difference had the effect of greatly increasing expected PILOT (Payments in Liu of Taxes) payments.

In a May 16 letter to Henry “Ren” Richmond, financial analyst and board member of PFGSF, DOF representative Samara Karasyk wrote, “The law does not permit us to value condo or co-ops” in the manner utilized by appraiser Rosin & Associates, author of one of the studies commissioned by the community groups.

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DOF said the law does not allow valuing condo or co-ops at the unit level, nor does it allow the valuation to be based on actual sales prices of condo an co-op units, as Rosin had done.

Another community-funded study, produced by the firm Goldenrod Blue, was rejected by the park because of the assessor’s lack of expertise in timber pier maintenance. This study had recommended repairing the park’s piers on an as-needed basis instead of pre-emptively.

The community coalition maintains that DOF will appraise other properties in the park, including Pierhouse and John Street, at a higher level than projected by the park, and that the Rosin Report hews closer to the law than an earlier report commissioned by the park.

Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said in a May 11 statement that the Pier 6 plan, by RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group, was chosen by the board because of the “superiority of its financial offer, the overall quality and qualifications of the respondent team, a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context, all while generating hundreds of prevailing wage jobs.”

The board was expected to proceed with the Pier 6 development despite the May 18 decision by the state-controlled Empire State Development Corp. (ESD) to not approve — for now — Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to allow affordable housing at the site.

The city believes that ESD’s permission is not necessary.

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