Order applies only to shorter building, but advocates see it as a start

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The Department of Buildings has issued a partial stop work order halting construction at 130 Furman St., the southern portion of the Pierhouse project at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, seen here on the right. Rendering courtesy of Toll Brothers City Living.

The Department of Buildings has issued a partial stop work order halting construction on and above the second floor at 130 Furman Street, the southern portion of the Pierhouse project at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The order comes at the request of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is asking the city’s Department of Buildings to confirm that the Pier 1 development complies with Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District (SV-1) restrictions.

The height of the condo/hotel complex has raised the ire of preservationists in Brooklyn Heights, who say the taller northern portion, at 90 Furman St.,  partially obstructs the protected tower-to-tower view of the Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from the Promenade.

Advocates from the group Save The View Now say the 90 Furman section exceeds a height limit of 100 feet, negotiated by the Brooklyn Heights Association in 2005, by 30 percent. The extra 30 feet are made up of building mechanicals. BHA was represented by noted preservationist Otis Pearsall in these discussions.

The stop work order doesn’t apply to this section, however, which has already topped out at 130 feet.

“This action speaks to BBP’s steadfast commitment to the preservation of the Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District – a responsibility we take so seriously that we will ensure there is no construction activity that could possibly encroach upon these protected views,” Regina Myer, president of BBP, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“DOB took this action due to BBP’s request that the developer seek confirmation of compliance from them,” she added.

Save the View Now, headed by Brooklyn Heights resident Steven Guterman, issued a statement on Wednesday saying the group “is grateful to the NYC Department of Buildings for quickly investigating our concerns and issuing a stop work order for 130 Furman Street until construction plans that meet the SV-1 regulation are submitted. We also thank Senator Squadron for requesting that the DOB expedite the review of the complaint filed on Wednesday January 21, after our meeting with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp, about the current plans.”

According to DOB records, however, the complaint submitted by Save The View Now on Jan. 21 was found by DOB on Jan. 23 to be “unsubstantiated based on department records.”

The same complaint submitted by BBP on Jan. 26 resulted in the partial stop order, “as per 1st Deputy Commissioner.”

Advocates maintain it was their questioning that ultimately led to DOB’s action.

“I am delighted that since we have questions about possible scenic view plane violations, the Buildings Department has issued a stop work order until it is assured that construction at the southern building will be in compliance with Scenic View Plane requirements,” Carolyn Ziegler, chair of the BHA Parks Committee, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We hope that the BBPC will also now make sure that the southern building does not exceed its agreed to 55 foot limit, including any possible bulkheads.”

She added, “Of course this action today does not address the continuing intrusion of the northern Pierhouse building on views that our community was repeatedly guaranteed would be preserved.”

Save The View Now said they expect BBP “to honor their commitment” that the maximum building height for 130 Furman “will be no higher than the 55′ including any bulkheads — as was stated in the GPP, the FEIS and the Parks’ Design Guidelines.”

Guterman added, “BBPC and Toll Brothers must now address the major deviations relative to the original plans that exist with the Pierhouse hotel complex located on Parcel A.”

Schneider: DOB Order Alarming

Preservationist Martin Schneider told the Brooklyn Eagle that the DOB order “is a bit alarming because it seems [to] focus only on the view plane issue.”  In the design guidelines in the RFP (Request for Proposals), “the height issues which apply to both the north (Parcel A) and south (Parcel B) buildings are very clearly delineated,” he said.

In the RFP, the maximum height allowed on Parcel A is set at 100 feet, while Parcel B is limited to 55 feet. The RFP states that “almost all of Parcel B and a small portion of Parcel A” fall within the SV-1 special zoning district, “which may further limit the height in those areas.”

“This stop order, good as it is, should be only the first step in bringing this runaway developer back in line with the original Pearsall [BHA] understandings of 2005,” Schneider said.

A Buildings Department spokesperson told the Eagle on Wednesday, “Following a request for an additional plan review, the Department of Buildings determined that a partial stop work order was warranted as the height of the project at 130 Furman Street was not in compliance with zoning regulation.”

Save The View Now will present to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council (CAC) on Tuesday, February 3, at Congregation Mt. Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West, Brooklyn Heights. The meeting takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The group said they will be asking the CAC to pass a resolution calling for a halt of the construction of the Pierhouse until remediation plans can be put in place.

Another group — Save Pier 6 — seeking to block development of two residential towers near Pier 6 at the southern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park will also be making their case at the meeting.

Pierhouse, a Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital project, is expected to generate $3.3 million in revenues towards the maintenance of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

SV-1 limits the height of buildings between the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the waterfront to protect the views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Updated at 3:15 with more details about the complaint filed with DOB.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. with a quote from Carolyn Ziegler, chair of the BHA Parks Committee.

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Sidebar:

The Pierhouse complex consists of three sections with three different addresses:

  • 60 Furman St., the site of the 1Hotel, will be the northernmost portion of the project when completed.
  • 90 Furman St., a residential section that recently topped out at 130 feet, is the largest and tallest section. Preservationists say it blocks the view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • 130 Furman St., is a smaller residential development at the southern end of the project. The stop work order applies to this section.

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