Brooklyn Bridge Park, Phase One, July 11. 2010. The city is still refusing to take responsibility to pay for the maintenance and operation of the park according to a final draft study released last night. (Photo: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on image to enlarge
If there was any doubt left – all roads now point to the city moving forward with plans to build more controversial high-rise condos at Brooklyn Bridge Park, according to the Brooklyn Blog.
The findings in a final draft of a city-commissioned study by Bay Area Economics released earlier this evening contend there isn’t enough alternative funding opportunities to stop at least some of the new housing set for John Street in DUMBO and by Pier 6 in Brooklyn Heights from being built.
Both developments are slated to bring in $8 million in revenues to help finance the park’s anticipated $16.1 million maintenance budget. The 85-acre park project is being built in segments.
The findings are no shock. They are similar to what BAE’s preliminary report released in February showed: that up to $7 million in annual revenues could be raised through alternatives like selling naming rights and adding additional paid parking spots.
However, $4 million of the $7 million is through a plan to create a Park Improvement District that would raise funds through an additional tax on property and business owners near the park. A PID would need to be approved by the community affected, but such support is dramatically lacking.
Critics say the findings are a sham to push an agenda to build more housing in the park.
Many questioned why the city didn’t study a popular plan to tap into the Jehovah Witnesses’ dozens of properties in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, convert them into luxury condos and put tax revenues from the sales toward the parks maintenance costs.
BAE and city officials have said it was because the Witnesses aren’t warm to moving fast enough on the plan to meet construction timetables at the park.
But state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn) says the city didn’t try hard enough to study the plan.
He said the report “calls the city’s commitment to complete” the 85-acre park project “into question.”
City officials will now consider what to do with the findings during a June 14 meeting at the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Heights branch, 280 Cadman Plaza West.
Under a 2010 agreement that allowed the city to take control of the park from the state, the city has to explore alternate revenue sources to the luxury condos planned.
Also, under the deal, the city can’t pursue the John Street housing before next month or Pier 6 condos before July 2013. And – most importantly -- both Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman hold veto power over the construction of housing at those sites.
When asked if he would ever block housing with his veto, Squadron said it’s an option that remains on the table.
Judi Francis, who heads a grass-roots group fighting to keep housing out of the park, ripped Mayor Bloomberg for “denying us a true park” by pushing luxury condos.
Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a political hot potato since project planners announced in December 2004 that more than 1,200 luxury condos would have to be included to raise enough money to offset the park's now-estimated $16.1 million annual maintenance costs.
Only one high-rise offering 440 luxury units at Pier 5 has been built; another 780 units are on hold because of the slumping economy.