Judge: Pier 6 towers’ construction can proceed, but won’t influence ruling

Here they are — your Pier 6 tower plans
ODA/RAL Development Services / Oliver’s Realty Group

They’re going up — for now.

A judge denied an order to halt construction that began this week on two towers at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 during a Thursday emergency hearing, allowing work to proceed as litigants wait to make final arguments in a lawsuit over whether the high-rises can be built at all.

Civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association had petitioned Justice Lucy Billings to issue a temporary restraining order to stop construction on the proposed 15- and 28-story towers at the foot of Atlantic Avenue after developers filed paperwork with the city earlier this month to start work — which includes a 34-day process of hammering 400 steel beams into the ground — on July 19.

The Heights Association’s attorney, Richard Ziegler, argued the construction will be noisy and intrusive to the park and surrounding neighborhood, especially since the site is adjacent to a playground popular among youngsters in the summer.

Billings agreed that there might be irreparable harm, but said she could not do much about it since the work does not violate any city noise codes.

“It’s not a harm that violates any environmental code,” she said.

Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos cheered the ruling and said they were thankful to the court.

“We are gratified that the judge agreed with us and decided not to grant the temporary restraining order,” said David Lowin, vice president of real estate for the green space.

Ziegler was worried that Billings would be less likely to rule in favor of the civic group if part of the high-rises already were built, but she guaranteed that the progress of construction will not influence her decision.

“I can’t see that’s anything that can’t be undone,” she said.

And though the Heights Association did not win its request for a restraining order, Ziegler, who had his first opportunity to argue the merits of his case on Thursday, said the hour-long hearing yielded some positive developments.

He made the case that the park’s 2006 General Project Plan — the agreement that mandates it only build what is necessary to fund its upkeep — declares the green space’s development lots can only be used to make money for it. And since developers RAL Companies and Affiliates and Oliver’s Realty Group’s 15-story tower will contain below-market-rate units, it will not generate any cash, Ziegler said.

“It was a very worthwhile session with the judge because she was very candid about skepticism she has previously hinted at,” he said outside the courtroom. “I don’t think we had previously been quite so clear in drawing the distinction that [the smaller tower] is an even clearer violation of the GPP than [the 28-story tower].”

Billings, who has been charged with administering asbestos cases, said she will be tied up with those and asked at the beginning of the hearing if the litigants wanted to change justices, which they both declined.

But the judge later said that in deciding to allow construction, she was more inclined to come to a quick decision on the case.

“At least you guys have compelled me to make a decision as early as possible,” Billings said.

Litigants will return to the courtroom on August 4 at 11 am in what is expected to be their final appearance before Billings rules.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill