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Brooklyn Bridge Park Hotel

Toll Brothers win bid to develop hotel at Pier 1

The Brooklyn Paper

Toll Brothers, the country’s largest developer of luxury homes, will construct a $295-million hotel and condominium complex at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania-based home-builders won a highly competitive design contest to erect a 10-story, 200-room hotel and a 159-unit residential development at the foot of Pier 1 after Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation board members overwhelmingly approved the plan this morning.

Mayor Bloomberg hailed the decision as a “vote of confidence in Brooklyn and its future as a great place to live, work, and visit.”

“This project will ensure that the thousands of New Yorkers and tourists who visit Brooklyn Bridge Park will be able to enjoy a beautifully maintained space,” he said.

The vote ends a 10-month bidding process between developers eager to build hotels and homes in the green space — a controversial funding strategy intended to cover the costs of building and operating Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Park planners said that Toll Brothers’ proposal is the most financially sound and its aesthetics — which include grassy roofs and interlocking pathways — best reflect the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“This is a real turning point for our park,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president Regina Myer. “It brings funding stability to the project and allows us to build more park in the future.”

The giant development — which boasts two multi-tiered glass, stone, and grass structures — will take up four city blocks south of Old Fulton Street and adjacent to the entrance of the park at Pier 1.

Toll Brothers senior vice president David Von Spreckelsen, whose company has a 97-year lease on the site, said he is excited to be developing the waterfront.

“It’s about being able to build in a park with stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, the harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Von Spreckelsen, whose company constructed Northside Piers on the Williamsburg waterfront and pulled out of a planned Gowanus Canal project after the waterway was slated for a federal cleanup. “It’s really a unique parcel.”

Condo dwellers and the hotel operator will give the city roughly $3.3 million per year in payments in lieu of taxes and rent — cash that will fund maintenance and operations of the waterfront park.

Toll Brothers expects to break ground on the site by spring 2013.

The project is slated to provide new public restrooms, pathways connecting to the park, street trees and landscaping on Furman Street, a banquet space and meeting rooms for community groups, and 210 permanent jobs and 300 construction jobs at the site.

But longtime critics of the plan to allow housing in the public park say the deal sets a dangerous precedent for future development projects.

“I have been against housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park since I ran for the City Council,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), who cast the lone vote against the plan. “Today’s vote by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation was on the issue of housing at Pier 1 and I voted my conscience.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

Updated 3:32 pm, June 20, 2012: Story updated fix a botched measurement of acreage.
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Reader Feedback

Ken from Montague St. says:
This sucks, what a shame to put a hotel in a park!
June 20, 2012, 10:15 am
Ben from Greenpoint says:
Councilman Steve Levin what else can you do for Brooklyn not just complain???
June 20, 2012, 11:34 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Not to be too cynical, but there is a good chance the only reason for building the park was to give public land away to a private developer, again. I guess the normal procedure in our country now is to take from the majority of the people and give away what is taken to the very wealthy. Pathetic people ... what a state of affairs we find ourselves in.
June 20, 2012, 2:33 pm
Jbob from PS says:
"will give the city roughly $3.3 million per year in payments in lieu of taxes and rent" -has there been any anaysis to determine whether this is a good deal financially or not?????????????
June 20, 2012, 5:30 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
The 3.3 million is payment in lieu of real estate taxes and ground lease payments. The pilots are supposed to be exactly the same as any person's real estate taxes. the ground lease payments`were part of the competitive bids. In addition any room taxes or city income tax on people employed there go into the city's budget. One Brooklyn Park also makes a payment to the park every time an apartment is sold.
June 20, 2012, 8:33 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/about-us/brooklyn-bridge-park/project-approvals-presentations

lots of information here
June 20, 2012, 8:53 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
It's funny that the park planners were said to have chosen the Toll Brothers design because it includes "grassy roofs and interlocking pathways ." When you look at the different proposals it's clear grassy roofs and interlocking pathways were mandated in the RFP. Betcha the Toll Brothers had bought guarantees from local pols and city officials regarding the site on the Gowanus, and when federal action on the cleanup nixed that the politicians and bureaucrats had egg on their face and owed them one. The other proposals never had much of a chance.
June 21, 2012, 9:54 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
It will be better to have an attractive facility on Furman instead of the derelict vacant lots that have been there for decades. It will bring new visitors and new attention to Brooklyn, and that will bring more money to Brooklyn businesses. Mom and Pop shops will see increased traffic. Larger businesses will locate here because they like the energy and the cachet. That all means jobs.

It's only a matter of time before movies and TV shows are filmed there. Look how many times the previous vacant lot next to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge was used to depict mafiosi disposing of bodies. Wouldn't it be better to have the world form different associations with Brooklyn now?
June 21, 2012, 10:10 am
Matt from Carroll Gardens says:
Scott from Park Slope, it would have been even better if those 4 city blocks of land actually had been developed as a park! And great, the rich folks get a nice view, and the film companies get nice shots, and the people get...what? Does nobody remember the original park plan, developed by the community, that didn't require $16 million in annual operating costs, before the State and City came up with this "necessary" financing plan that just coincidentally involves mega-real estate deals???

As Sid from Boerum Hill points out, the PILOTs are the same as the tax rates, but they are also tied to "market forces": One Brooklyn Bridge Park paid considerably less the first year (or two?) because they claimed they weren't selling as well as expected. So the whole thing is a giveaway to developers and the return to the citizens is a crapshoot that will have to be watched every minute for manipulation. Maybe the park "expenses" will go up and require more buildings, or naming rights, or tickets? What new contrivances will they find to shave this park down to what the developers actually want: the world's most expensive private front lawn?
June 21, 2012, 10:55 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Matt, I don't disagree with you. It would be much better if our elected representatives were motivated by what's good for their constituents, not corruption and greed. A Brooklyn Bridge Park that is all park is better than a park that is partly park, partly mega-corp giveaway kickback scheme. The latter, as aggravating as it is, is better than no park/vacant lots with no waterfront access that has been the case for decades and decades.

I was trying to look on the bright side.
June 21, 2012, 11:26 am
sid from boerum hill says:
the law establishing the park requires that no more than 20% of the footprint be used for development. I think the actual number is closer to 15%. The problem with the expenses at the park are the piers and its pilings. Personally I have always thought those should be a capital expense but what happens is that capital gets deferred, the costs escalate and the piers would become unusable.
One BBP didn't have to pay anything they could have stayed outside the park. They have been paying each year on time and the full amount due. The agreement with them also provides key payments when the apartments are sold...not required by any thing really.

hey Scott they already are down there filming all the time. every once and a while the city calls a moratorium and they leave for a while.

Do people in Central Park consider it their lawn? Hudson river park(paid for by Battery Park City)...

One BBP has been there for years without an issue of their front lawn and its a much bigger bulky building(predates the lamdmarked view plane)
June 21, 2012, 12:30 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
The requirement that it be self sufficient for operational purposes is in the law that established the entity. Its in the agreement between the State and the City. Its been there from day one. yes some people think its too much money but that is another issue.
June 21, 2012, 12:33 pm
jonb from south brooklyn says:
10 years from now, when one compares BBP with HRP, we will all be glad we went the hotel/condo route. Thanks to an abundance of activists and civic types in BK, BBP will never function as a private front lawn.
June 21, 2012, 2:31 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
sid, jonb, I am a bit torn on the formulation of BBP. Intellectually the idea of a self-funding park is appealing, but this formula comes with a lot of strings attached. I had thought organisations like the Prospect Park Alliance were the right way to buffer the parks against budget cuts and neglect.
June 22, 2012, 2:02 am

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