Pier 6 settlement talks fall through; back to court for Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Heights Association
Hearing set for June
Settlement talks between the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation over a controversial development project inside Brooklyn Bridge Park have fallen through.
Now it’s full steam ahead for the lawsuit brought by BHA to block two residential towers at Pier 6, at the southern end of the popular park. The case will be argued before state Supreme Court Justice Lucy Billings in early June.
During two previous court appearances in April, Billings had urged the two sides to try to reach a compromise, and she continued her efforts on Wednesday.
The attempts to find common ground were unsuccessful, however.
“Unfortunately, no progress was made towards settlement,” BHA said in a statement on Wednesday. “Barring further discussions between the parties, the next step will be an argument before Justice Billings on the merits of the lawsuit on June 7th or 9th.”
On Thursday. BHA Executive Director Peter Bray told the Brooklyn Eagle, “The BHA has been consistent in its position that the Pier 6 development would violate the Park Corporation’s legal commitment to build only the minimum development needed to maintain and operate the park. The BHA is confident in the merits of its case and is looking forward to presenting its arguments in court in June.”
The park declined to comment.
‘Fake news’ of a secret deal
A kerfuffle had broken out about a week ago when rumors of a “secret deal” between BHA and the park, which would leave out community groups long fighting the towers (Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund and the People for Green Space Foundation), began to circulate.
BHA squelched the “fake news” in an e-blast on April 21, saying, “The BHA has not and would not enter into any resolution of the Pier 6 issues without consulting with our community and we have consistently said just that to the court and to the respondents, i.e., the other party.”
BHA continued, “We have asked the respondents numerous times, both in and out of court, to obtain permission to include our community partners in future discussions, and yesterday they agreed we could expand the confidentiality tent to include the two community leaders with whom we have worked most closely from the beginning of this case.”
BHA says towers not financially necessary, park says they are
In June 2016, the park’s board voted to approve a joint venture of RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group to develop the two residential buildings at the Pier 6 site. The taller building is set to be 30 stories high, while the shorter building would be 16 stories.
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who chairs the park’s board, touted the affordable affordable housing aspect of the project. Mayor de Blasio has made affordable housing one of his top priorities.
BHA says the park’s approval of the project violates the law that governs development at the park. An agreement with the city requires that real estate development in the park be limited to only the amount necessary to fund the park’s financial needs.
“Do they really need as much revenue as they say they do?” attorney Richard Ziegler, representing BHA, asked the court on April 12. He said that real estate taxes have increased dramatically, thus bringing in more income than the park projected, and claimed that the park corporation hadn’t made a case showing financial need for the Pier 6 development.
Attorneys representing the park said that the park corporation board had determined that income from the entire Pier 6 development was needed to fund the park, and that BHA would not be satisfied with “anything short of preventing affordable housing and changing the project in a major way.”
Ziegler responded that the community began fighting unnecessary development in 2005, “long before affordable housing was a factor in the project.”
BHA is suing the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC); Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its subsidiary, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation; and developers RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Real Estate Group.
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