Activists: Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos lying about finances

Shrouded: A whimsical rendering for one of the proposed luxury tower pairs at Pier 6.
Alloy Design and Bjarke Ingels Group

Brooklyn Bridge Park has enough money coming in to be paid for forever and plans for two more residential towers on the park should be scrapped, according to activists, citing a newly released analysis of the park’s finances.

The sprawling waterfront green space is supposed to be complete by 2017, and the residential high-rises lining it are supposed to fund its operation and maintenance in perpetuity. The board that runs the project, which is privately rather than city-operated, says funding it will take seven towers, five of them residential. But activists, including members of the park’s Community Advisory Council, say that the five towers built and under construction will do the job, and that the numbers show there is no need for the final two planned for Pier 6.

“The financial information provided by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has been contradicted and challenged by financial experts in the community,” said Sandy Balboza, a member of the advisory group.

Balboza demanded that the board alter its plans at its Nov. 7 meeting at Saint Francis College, where a group called People for Green Space presented the financial analysis. Activists with the group argued that the projections given by park honchos to justify building luxury housing in the park do not extend far enough into the future to accurately show how much money the park will generate over time.

“This park is going to be here for 100 years,” said Henry Richmond, a financial analyst who lives in One Brooklyn Bridge Park. “We should be looking at the funding over a long period of time.”

The group’s report criticizes park administrators for only calculating revenues through 2018, while tax breaks on residential developments in the park begin expiring in 2020. They also said that appreciating property values in the area mean that the taxes collected for these properties will far exceed original projections.

“The property values are massively higher,” Richmond said. “Let’s make sure we’re making decisions based on the right figures.”

During the meeting, park president Regina Myer touted recently opened recreational facilities in the park, and said nearly all of the parkland will be complete by 2017. Afterwards, she said the board will review the community group’s analysis.

The influential Brooklyn Heights Association weighed in late last month with a letter to Myer asking for a detailed breakdown of the project’s finances, and calling for lowering the height of the planned 30-story tower at Pier 6, the taller of the two proposed high-rises.

“We believe that a 315-foot structure is simply too tall and we ask that BBPC significantly reduce the size of the structure,” wrote Carolyn Ziegler, a member of the civic group’s parks committee. “We request for ourselves and the larger community your revenue and cost projections and assumptions in sufficient detail and for a sufficient time frame for us to review and fully understand your anticipated long-term financial requirements.”

A lawsuit filed by People for Green Space resulted in a temporary restraining order that prohibits the park from selecting a developer for the Pier 6 projects. The next court hearing is Dec. 3.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Peel back the mask: Ithier Lopez, a member of the labor group Build Up NYC, calls on the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation board to reveal the developers behind 14 proposals for new residential towers at Pier 6 in the park.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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