Bridge Park approves Pier 6 towers, as locals prepare for legal fight

Tower play: These are the towers Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos plan to erect near Pier 6.
ODA/RAL Development Services / Oliver’s Realty Group

Board members of the semi-private organization that runs Brooklyn Bridge Park voted to approve two controversial towers at the Pier 6 end of the green space on Tuesday morning.

Members voted 12–4 to approve the new buildings at the end of Atlantic Avenue, with those in favor arguing the park needs the money the towers will bring to fund its upkeep — especially to eliminate the tiny crustaceans slowly devouring the timber piles that hold it up.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure this park is funded and doesn’t fall into the East River,” said Henry Gutman, a board member who owns a condominium at a separate condo development in the park.

Those opposed sided with local residents, who have for years insisted that the park has plenty of cash to stay afloat, and that any extra development contravenes its pledge to only build the bare minimum needed to stay solvent.

Board members Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), Zeeshan Ott — a spokesman for state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) — Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon’s (D–Cobble Hill) appointee Michael Stinson, and Matthew Wing — who is Gov. Cuomo’s former press secretary — all voted against the towers.

Dozens of local residents showed up to the public meeting armed with placards, jeering throughout the proceedings, then slamming the board after it approved the plan.

“You have permitted the greed of a few, and the arrogance of the several, to cause the loss of more precious parklands, at its most critical entrance, to the detriment of all,” said Judi Francis, president of advocacy group the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund.

Influential civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association immediately vowed to sue to stop the towers.

“There’s about to be a lawsuit in light of your voting today,” said Heights resident Richard Ziegler, who is a partner at law firm Jenner and Block.

It wouldn’t be the first suit — in fact, Tuesday’s vote was the culmination the last one, which was eventually settled in 2015 when city and park honchos agreed to go through a state approval process for changes they had made to the original plan for the Pier 6 development, including the addition of below-market housing.

But state officials last month refused to approve the changes amidst the ongoing spat between Mayor DeBlasio and Cuomo and a probe into Hizzoner’s campaign finances, leading City Hall honchos to declare they had satisfied the spirit of the law by “seeking” its okay and vowed to plow ahead.

On Monday, the head of the state’s economic development arm the Empire State Development Corporation sent a letter to the board saying he doesn’t think the so-called “affordable” housing requires the state’s okay anyway.

But several pols, including Squadron and city Comptroller Scott Stringer, said they didn’t agree the rules of the settlement had been satisfied, and warned it could open the whole thing up to additional legal challenges.

“Today’s decision by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to ignore the settlement agreement and push forward only increases the risk of additional litigation and is bound to escalate the animosity with the local community,” said Stringer’s spokesman Eric Sumberg.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Strong coalition: Locals packed into a Tuesday morning meeting to show their opposition to the plan to build two towers at Pier 6, holding signs and jeering.
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

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