Rooms with a view! City starts search for Pier 1 hotel developer

Rooms with a view! City starts search for Pier 1 hotel developer
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The city has moved forward with plans to build condos and a hotel at Pier 1 of Brooklyn Bridge Park — locking in a long-sought revenue source for the waterfront park’s $16-million annual maintenance budget.

Park officials announced on Thursday that they are seeking developers for the mixed-use complex that will include a 10-story hotel plus a lower-rise residential building and restaurant inside the park along Furman Street, just south of the park’s primary entrance at the foot of Old Fulton Street.

“The hotel and residential component represent a critical element of our park maintenance plan,” said Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. “The development’s amenities will benefit all park users for decades to come.”

As part of the project, developers would get a 98-year lease after building a 170- to 225-room hotel, a 150- to 180-unit residential building, and creating at least 300 parking spaces, public restrooms and park storage facilities.

The two-parcel site is on land that once contained the Cold Storage Warehouses, a set of 19th-century buildings that the city demolished last year in anticipation of development.

The Pier 1 development remains one of the less-controversial elements of the park’s unique funding arrangement — which stems from a 2002 agreement that requires the $350-million greenspace and development to raise its own maintenance budget so it would not become a drain on city and state coffers.

As part of that funding plan, the city will collect ground rent and property taxes earmarked for the 85-acre greenspace from Pier 1 and future high-rises at John Street in DUMBO and the southern leg of the park at Pier 6.

The development of Pier 1 comes on the heels of a deal between the city and state lawmakers to move ahead with plans for luxury housing inside the park. The scale of development on Pier 6 at the park’s southern end will depend on how much property tax revenue is eventually generated after the sale of 30 currently tax-exempt properties by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

The city is not requiring a specific “look” from the winning developer — but the resulting buildings cannot block views of the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty from the Brooklyn Heights promenade, which is protected under “special scenic view” zoning.

That rule, however, does nothing to protect the views of surrounding buildings, most notably 25 Columbia Heights, a Watchtower property across Furman Street that currently pays no property tax. The building’s property taxes will be used for park maintenance after it is sold by the Watchtower Society as part of last week’s deal between the city and state lawmakers to finance park upkeep.

If views from the building are blocked by the hotel, the building’s property value — and therefore its property taxes — could drop. But the winning developer can reduce the hotel’s height — after negotiating a reasonable fee with the Watchtower Society.

The new hotel would be small by city standards, but rooms would likely cost a small fortune; the views will be so breathtaking that rooms may need to be stocked with oxygen tanks for supplemental air when guests open the blinds for the first time.

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park starts at about $1,000 a night, so there’s no telling what comparable rooms would cost in Brooklyn.

Proposals are due by Oct. 24. For info, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.brooklynbridgeparknyc.org.