City seals deal to take over Brooklyn Bridge Park

Housing in the park continues to look likely
Roger Swingle / IntervisionMedia

The city on Wednesday officially took over development of — and funding for — Brooklyn Bridge Park, an agreement that supporters say “guarantees” that the waterfront development will indeed be completed.

The takeover plan, offered in part by state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights), includes a commitment from the city to complete construction of the $350-million park, a long-delayed 1.7-mile strip of green from John Street in DUMBO to Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill built partially on the former Port Authority piers under Brooklyn Heights.

The resulting greenspace would not be an actual city park, but would be overseen by a new public authority to replace the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a state development agency. As such, the most-controversial element of the waterfront development — the requirement that its $16-million annual maintenance be self-financing — will remain, city officials said.

Bloomberg today told The Brooklyn Paper that a “money-making venture,” housing or otherwise, would still be built in the park to keep the self-sustaining mandate in place.

But as part of the takeover plan, a panel of political appointees would search for alternatives to raising the park’s maintenance budget without the current scheme: housing and other commercial operations inside the park’s boundaries.

For starters, that committee will decide by 2011 whether housing at a site on John Street or Pier 6 is the only way to go, Squadron said.

Hailing the takeover, Squadron said that changing the piers’ zoning from manufacturing to “parkland” would make it harder to build structures that are not laid out in the original park plan.

Pier 1, at the foot of Old Fulton Street, is ostensibly done, but its opening has been repeatedly delayed as this city-state deal was being hammered out. A portion of Pier 6, at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, is expected to open this spring, though without its money-making venture, a restaurant.

Challenges remain regarding the construction of the remaining four piers, which could cost $250 million. The mayor has promised $55 million right now to build the stalled Pier 2 and its recreation space, but the remainder is up in the air.