The deadline for the public to comment to the Empire State Development Corp. (ESD) on the proposed Pier 6 development in Brooklyn Bridge Park is Monday, Aug. 31, at 5 p.m.
The board of the ESD will have a major decision on their hands. While the city says two high-rise towers at the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance are financially necessary and provide a spot for affordable housing, opponents – including neighborhood organizations, officials and local residents — have presented a nearly solid wall of opposition.
At a recent five-and-a-half-hour hearing hosted by ESD in Brooklyn Heights in July, every elected official representing the area, along with civic groups like the Brooklyn Heights Association, stood up against the plan.
The ESD comment period is part of a process that would allow modifications to the park’s General Project Plan (GPP).
The modifications to the GPP would allow affordable housing in the towers and allow the park’s board of directors “to determine the number and affordability of the residential units and other characteristics of the building.”
Other changes include the addition of retail, a community facility, a 75-seat pre-K space and the elimination of a road looping around the two parcels.
The most controversial modification to the GPP would allow the park to build the Pier 6 towers regardless of financial need.
The city and state had originally promised they would build no more housing than is necessary to fund the park, which is mandated to be self-sufficient. The modification removes that commitment.
De Blasio pushes to site affordable housing in the park
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appointed Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen to chair the park’s board, is eager to site 115 units of affordable housing in the park, alongside the luxury condo tower, for a total of 339 units.
At the July hearing, Glen said, “Let’s not turn this into something that it’s not. It’s about affordable housing. In the past six months alone more than 100,000 people applied for affordable housing in this community board.”
Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) also maintains that the development is financially necessary to support the park and maintain its piers.
“Without revenues from the Pier 6 development site, BBP will run out of money in the near term and will not be able to fulfil its mandate to be financially self-sufficient,” the park board says on its website. The park says it has built in a 15 to 20 percent contingency to cover future unknown variables.
Park President Regina Myer testified in July that that Pier 6 “is absolutely essential to the park,” and that the development sites were designed to minimize the project’s footprint. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Build Up NYC have thrown in their support as well, saying the project would bring new jobs and businesses to the area.
Opponents say that Brooklyn Bridge Park is fully funded by other developments already built or under construction, and call the park’s financial statements unreliable. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has also called for more financial transparency from the park board.
The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) says that the park’s own projections show almost $400 million in excess profits over 50 years, which would be transferred to the City General Fund.
“We should not be selling parkland in the main park entrance to fund the city budget,” BHA said in a suggested email to ESD.
Officials, including state Sen. Daniel Squadron, have called for a new environmental study, saying the Pier 6 development will only add to already overcrowded schools, streets and infrastructure. They point to other projects planned for the neighborhood, including one proposed for the massive Long Island College Hospital site, whose potential impact was not considered in environmental impact studies. And they have highlighted the park’s location in a flood zone.
Glen and Myer maintain that further environmental review is not needed since a November 2014 Technical Memo, commissioned by BBPC, concluded that the Pier 6 project would not have any additional significant adverse impacts.
The ESD has not ruled out a new environmental study. In a June meeting, several members of the ESD board left the door open to consideration of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the development.
Written comments can be submitted by email to email@example.com or faxed to 212-803-3778.
Comments can also be mailed to Ms. Rose-Marie Mahase, Empire State Development, 633 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017.
Board of Directors of the Empire State Development Corp.
Howard Zemsky, (Ex Officio Director); Empire State Development, President and CEO; NYS Department of Economic Development, Commissioner
Kenneth Adams; NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, Acting Commissioner
Peter J. Beshar; Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Derrick D. Cephas, Esq.; Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Partner
Robert R. Dyson; The Dyson-Kissner Moran Corporation, Chairman and CEO
Hilda Rosario Escher; Ibero-American Action League, President and CEO
Benjamin Lawsky (Ex Officio Director); NYS Department of Financial Services, Superintendent
Joyce Miller; Tier One Public Strategies, CEO