“We’re going forward anyway,” - Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development & Chair - Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation board.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is trying to justify the need to build additional housing to help pay for the park. In 2015 the City’s Comptroller’s office asked the corporation to explore the possibility of issuing bonds to finance future capital improvements instead. (image: Oda/Ral DEVELOPMENT SERVICES/OLIVER
Despite a sudden reversal by New York State officials, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio is forging ahead with plans for two residential towers in a park on the Brooklyn waterfront that would include market-rate and subsidized apartments as well as a school, according to the New York Times.
The project at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park has encountered a series of delays since it was announced in May 2014, including a lawsuit brought by some nearby residents, park advocates and elected officials.
New York City settled the suit one year ago and, in recent weeks, negotiated a new agreement for the towers with a developer and state officials.
All parties had planned to announce the agreement this week, but over the weekend, state officials abruptly pulled back, citing potential conflicts of interest. City officials say they will not be deterred.
“We’re going forward anyway,” Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said on Tuesday. “We stand by the rationale for the project. It puts the park in a better position to address its maritime and capital needs. And we have an obligation to build affordable housing, particularly in these expensive and rapidly changing neighborhoods.”
Brooklyn Bridge Park is supposed to pay for itself by allowing a limited amount of luxury residential development. After his election, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, pushed to include affordable housing.
Ms. Glen, who is also chairwoman of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, a nonprofit responsible for the park’s operation, said the project could progress solely under the authority of the corporation. But critics contend that the state has to agree to the changes that the city has made to the state-approved project plan before the developer can proceed.
Under the new agreement, the developer — a partnership between RAL Development Services and Oliver’s Realty Group — would build two buildings: a 26-story market-rate tower of 116 condominiums and a smaller, approximately 12-story tower with 188 apartments, 131 earmarked for low- and moderate-income families. The developer agreed to pay the city $98 million, down from $105 million, as well as a modest annual rent.
Whatever the merits of the project, the city’s decision will almost certainly deepen what has become a long-running feud between the mayor and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, and spur another lawsuit opposing the project.
In recent days, the state officials raised questions about the developer and a Chinese company, China Vanke, which has invested in the project. RAL, like many developers, contributed money to the Campaign for One New York, a now defunct nonprofit that Mr. de Blasio created to promote his mayoral agenda. RAL gave $10,000 in 2015, one month before it was selected for the Pier 6 project.
City officials say RAL submitted a proposal with a better financial deal than other applicants, which is why it was chosen.
Vanke is also peripherally involved in a Manhattan project currently under investigation by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general.
“We will not move forward with any changes until we are fully confident that all newly raised concerns have been addressed,” said Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the state’s economic development agency, Empire State Development.
But the developer and the city say that the information about RAL has been public for a year, and Vanke has been an equity partner in the deal from the beginning.
Robert A. Levine, a principal at RAL, said in a statement on Tuesday that the developer had contributed money to the campaign in support of the mayor’s work on universal pre-K.
“We’re proud of the plan we put forward,” Mr. Levine stated. “Just when we thought we’d worked to reach a positive resolution for a great project, the state called off its vote. We’re shocked and disappointed.”
Councilman Stephen Levin and State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, two Democrats whose districts include Pier 6, both oppose building any additional housing in the park.
Mr. Levin and Mr. Squadron insist that, before moving forward, the city needs state approval for the amendment to the state-approved project plan for Pier 6.
City Pushes Ahead on Plan for Towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park
New York Times - May 17, 2016 - By Charles V. Bagli
Deal to Put Towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park Is Set Back
The Wall Street Journal - May 17, 2016 - By Josh Dawsey
Comptroller To Brooklyn Bridge Park - Explore Using Bonds To Pay For Capital Improvements
A Walk In The Park - September 17, 2015http://awalkintheparknyc.blogspot.com/2015/09/comptroller-to-brooklyn-bridge-park.html