The Change Would Dramatically Alter The Park's Current Financial Model
Rendering of the proposed 31 and 15-story towers at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is trying to justify the need to build this additional housing to help pay for the park. The City's Comptroller's office has asked the corporation that oversees Brooklyn Bridge Park to explore the possibility of issuing bonds to finance future capital improvements instead.
By Geoffrey Croft
The office of the City Comptroller Scott Stringer has asked the corporation that oversees Brooklyn Bridge Park to look into the feasibility of issuing bonds to finance future capital improvements.
If adopted the move would remove Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation's (BBPC) stated rational for developing the controversial Pier 6 project. Opponents of the housing want the three acres developed into additional parkland.
Yesterday First Deputy Comptroller Alaina Gilligo wrote to Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) and raised the issue of whether the corporation can access the municipal bond market for capital needs financing.
"Since the public hearing on August 6, 2015, the Comptroller's office has received inquries from community stakeholders concerning whether BBPC may use tax-exempt or taxable bonds to finance Brooklyn Bridges Park's capital needs that would then be repaid by BBPC," the September 16th letter states.
"Proponents of bond financing believe that the mechanism could fill the financial gap until the BBPC generates a surplus from concessions and Payment's in Lieu of Taxes ("PILOT'S").
The Comptroller's office found that BBPC may be able to issue tax-exempt bonds through an arrangement with a governmental agency to finance park capital improvements.
"Because BBPC is a New York non-for-profit corporation, it may be able to issue tax-exempt bonds through a conduit governmental agency such as Build NYC Resources Corporation ("Build NYC") — an arm of the New York City Economic Development Corporation ("EDC") — to finance park capital improvements. "
The Comptroller's office wrote that the issue requires further analysis and advises BBPC to seek formal outside legal advise.
Several elected officials who represent the area had asked the Comptroller's office to look into the feasibility of issuing the bonds to cover capital improvements.
The move would dramatically change the park's current funding model which relies on money generated from real estate, including "PILOT'S", concessions, and park fees.
Issuing bonds to finance capital improvements would bring the park in line with the rest of the city park system which the BBPC is unlikely to support voluntarily.
The corporation claims the funds from the proposed new housing are necessary to ensure the park's long term fiscal stability including maintaining the park's 13, 400 pilings under its piers.
Open space advocates have long argued that the heavily utilized park should be funded by the government and not by funding schemes.
The model of paying for the park with housing has been the subject of bitter debate since Mayor Bloomberg wrestled control of the park from the Governor and adopted a "self sustaining" model which has dramatically changed the development and operation of the park.
Critics also point out that the current funding mechanism creates enormous disparities between the haves and the haves nots, including the well funded Brooklyn Bridge Park and the vast majority of other parks which rely on chronically underfunded municipal funding. Mayor de Blasio has repeatedly said he was against these disparities.
Until very recently the General Project Plan (GPP) allowed for building in the park only if a financial need could be demonstrated, which critics maintain they have no done.
Initially just high-rise luxury housing, Mayor de Blasio added an affordable housing component which the administration had hoped would make the controversial plan easier to swallow. That has not happened.
In June the BBPC awarded the Pier 6 project to developer Robert Levine, President & CEO of RAL Development Services weeks after Levine donated $10,000 to the mayor’s fundraising committee. Levine is also the developer of controversial One Brooklyn Bridge Park.
All in the Family: Prospect Park Alliance flack, and former New Yorkers for Parks spokesperson James Yolles heads up pr for developer Robert Levine for Risa Heller Communications. Risa tried in vein to help Major League Soccer seize parkland in Flushing Meadow Corona Park to build a new stadium. Belinda Cape, formerly from State Senator Daniel Squadron office is heading up pr for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation team.
In May Comptroller Scott Stringer wrote to Regina Myer asking the BBPC provide greater financial transparency including a longer term projections. The office has requested a 50-year revenue, operating expenses including the capital repair costs projections.
A Walk In The Park - July 30, 2015