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CitiStorage lot sale talk riles park advocates

Standing up: Rally organizer Dewey Thompson rallies for Bushwick Inlet Park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They are not giving up without a fight.

Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents who have been demanding the city purchase the so-called CitiStorage waterfront lot to turn into parkland say the news that two private developers now have an option to buy the land will just commence the latest battle in the fight to make the city keeps its promise.

“They would remiss to underestimate the force and fervor with which the community would respond to that land being residential developed,” said Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park member Jens Rasmussen.

Crains New York reported on Friday that it got word from an unnamed source that two development companies, Midtown Equities and East End Capital, have signed up for an option to purchase the 11-acre waterfront site on Kent Avenue between N. 10th and N. 11th streets where the CityStorage facility burned down in February.

But the city promised a decade ago to purchase that lot and others and use them to nearly triple the size of Bushwick Inlet Park to 28-acres. The city has since purchased the other two lots to make the future size of the park 21 acres, but it has not moved to purchase the CitiStorage lot, which owner Norman Brodsky has claimed he could sell for upwards of $500 million.

But park activists say that the developers are unlikely to purchase the land because it is zoned for manufacturing, and doing so would require great risk.

“Those are some pretty big hurdles to coming in and plopping down $250 million on a property when their options are that curtailed,” said Williamsburg resident and park activist Adam Perlmutter, who has been considering the legal options that the community can use to get the park.

Some communities members said that it makes sense that CitiStorage owner Norman Brodsky would be looking for a way to sell the land that now has the wreckage of the February fire on it, and that it is up to the city to deal with this quickly before a sale goes forward.

“The responsibility lies with the city stepping up to the plate and figuring out how it is going to fulfill its promises,” said Greenpoint resident and activist Katie Naplatarski.

The timing of this news is likely to make a pro-park expansion rally and march planned for this weekend even stronger, said Rasmussen.

“They are handing this to us on a platter,” he said.

Brodsky did not return repeated calls for comment. Neither did Midtown Equities or East End Capital.

Hope of the city purchasing the lot fell to new lows last month, when Mayor DeBlasio made no mention of it while announcing his “One New York” environmental agenda.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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