City commits Bridge Park funds

Brooklyn Bridge Park,
the 70-acre commercial and recreational development along the Brooklyn
Heights and DUMBO waterfront, moved one step closer to reality this week
when the city reached an agreement to turn over $65 million for design
and construction costs.

“This is huge,” said Sharon Soons, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn
Bridge Park Coalition, an independent non-profit group of 60 organizations
that has been involved with the project’s planning for almost 15
years.

The difference between the city’s years-old pledge of the money and
what was announced this week is that the city has now signed an agreement
that enables the money to flow from the city budget to Brooklyn Bridge
Park, said Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman Janel Patterson.
Construction is slated for completion within a decade.

In December, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced an
agreement to kick in $85 million in construction costs and agreed to turn
over piers 1, 2, 3 and 5, between Old Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue
once an environmental impact statement is completed.

The 1.3-mile development, stretching from Jay Street near the Manhattan
Bridge to Atlantic Avenue, is part of a far-reaching plan to transform
a stretch of the formerly industrial and maritime Brooklyn waterfront.
In September, a small segment of the park opened in DUMBO.

Operation and maintenance costs of the project’s park component will
be funded in part by revenue generated from commercial properties associated
with the project.

Developer Shaya Boymelgreen will be converting the vacant Empire Stores,
a row of Civil War-era brick warehouses fronting Empire-Fulton Ferry park
and Water Street between Main and Dock streets, into a Chelsea Market-like
commercial complex.

Designed for general storage and distribution of spices, tobacco and coffee
arriving from around the world, the complex is slated to house a mix of
galleries and stores.

“The public good that Brooklyn Bridge Park provides and has potential
to provide is worth every penny of the city’s support,” said
Evan Thies, a spokesman for City Councilman David Yassky, whose district
includes a portion of the site.

Gov. George Pataki also lauded the city’s release of funds, saying,
“This announcement is great news not only for the residents of Brooklyn,
but for all New Yorkers, who will now have a waterfront that is rich with
recreation uses.” “This means the park is moving forward,”
she said.

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