‘Park’ construction to begin with a teardown

The first construction phase of Brooklyn Bridge Park will be some demolition.

Late last month, the Empire State Development Corporation gave the green light to the demolition of five of the six piers within the waterfront development site, which stretches 1.3 miles from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue.

The $18-million, nine-month plan also calls for the Purchase Building, an Art Deco structure built under the Brooklyn Bridge during the Great Depression, to meet the wrecking ball.

Although the 70-year-old building is within the Fulton Ferry Landing Historic District, it is not landmarked. Preservationists fought to save the building, citing its roots as a project of the Works Progress Administration, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted in 2006 to allow its demolition.

Some hoped that the building would be used as a visitor’s center, but planners said it would obstruct waterfront views from the other end of the sprawling development. Current plans call for the building’s footprint to be used as an ice-skating rink in the winter.

A number of supporters of the project — where new housing and retail establishments are expected to be joined by open space and recreational venues — are relieved to see action. The site has hosted a number of cultural events — including a floating pool — even as construction has stalled.

Now, though, the ESDC said a ceremonial groundbreaking will be held early this year. If that sounds eerily familiar, it’s because Mayor Giuliani presided over just such a groundbreaking in 2001 — and a press release from that event said the development would be finished in two years.

Six years later, in April, 2007, another groundbreaking was scheduled — but it never happened.

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