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Report: Brooklyn Bridge Park has plenty of money, doesn’t need Pier 6 towers

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Brooklyn Bridge Park is flush with cash and doesn’t need to build any more luxury housing to finance its waterfront green space, according to a series of new reports released on Monday.

The reports from real-estate appraisers and marine engineers claim the park will reap some $800 million in extra moolah over the next 50 years, proving it doesn’t need to construct its controversial planned towers at Pier 6 — or any other buildings — according to the local activists who commissioned the studies.

“These reports cast significant doubt on whether any development at Pier 6 is necessary for Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation to achieve its financial objectives,” says a letter from the leaders of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association, and activist groups People for Green Space and Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund to the park’s board of directors.

Parks honchos say they need to build high-rises on the lot to pay for “preventative” maintenance of the 1950s timber piles that hold the pier up but are being slowly eaten away by tiny crustaceans called marine borers — a plan its own engineering experts say will save money in the long run.

But the new analysis by marine engineering outfit Goldenrod Blue Associates says that is a waste of time and money — it could save $90 million by tackling the borers with regular inspections like those conducted on the Lake Pontchartrain bridges in Louisiana, which are also held up with timber pillars, the firm says.

The study also claims a July 2015 report on the park’s finances used a model inconsistent with Department of Finance methodology to determine its revenue for the next half-century, resulting in estimates that vastly undervalue its future spending money.

The park will haul in $22.5 million annually from the stores, office buildings, hotel, and housing it has already built, rather than the $13.5 million it is predicting, according to appraiser Rosin and Associates.

And it will become more apparent the park is rolling in dough when the tax revenue comes in next year, claims an activist and financial analyst who assessed the studies. He claims projections based on the Rosen report show the open space will have some $800 million in cash to splash over the next 50 years.

“It will be very obvious that there’s no need to develop Pier 6,” said Henry Richmond, who lives in a condominium in the park and is head of the People for Green Space Foundation. “It’s going to be undeniable the park is going to generate excess amounts of money.”

A rep for the park says it is still looking at the reports, but maintains that it needs to build at Pier 6 to stop the docks from disappearing down the guts of tiny bugs. It also stands by its projections, which she says are based on the taxes of condominium buildings in the area surrounding the park — an approach the Department of Finances doesn’t take when looking into returns.

“While some may never accept it, we’ve exhaustively demonstrated that the Pier 6 project is essential to the park’s long-term financial stability,” said spokeswoman Belinda Cape, noting the marine engineering expert the activists hired is not an expert in wood pilings. “To put the financial future of a park enjoyed by millions at risk — as these groups advocate — is simply unacceptab­le.”

Park honchos are currently awaiting approval for construction on towers from the Empire State Development — a quasi-government state agency in charge of overseeing development in the park — though it has stalled its vote following locals’ objections, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 5:30 am, March 2, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Informedreader from Greenpoint says:
Excellent reporting here - thank you!

The co-opting of not-for-profit city institutions and resources in recent years by the real estate industry is a major scandal of our times and deserves massive coverage and reporting. This has happened with parks, charities, libraries, etc.
Feb. 29, 2016, 3:18 pm
The Truth from 11222 says:
The wealthy owners in and around the park were able to beat back affordable housing to keep the poors out of their neighborhood. That is what this is about. You heard their odious comments about putting the poors in Williamsburg instead. The moneyed class in Dumbo/BK Heights is able to browbeat the pols into serving their interests, while North Brooklyn is inundated with developments (affordable and otherwise) without regard to parkland or infrastructure. Disgusting.
Feb. 29, 2016, 3:26 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
There's no truth in "The Truth's" comment. The buildings originally planned for Pier Six had no affordable housing; this was only added later by Mayor DiBlasio. The original plan was for expensive housing, in order to gain the most money for the BBP coffers. Oh, and the word is poor; there's no such word as poors.
Feb. 29, 2016, 4:09 pm
Bill Orme from Brooklyn Heights says:
The precise method and probable long-term cost of preventive maintenance of the wooden pilings beneath the park piers is certainly open to serious discussion, as this is under any analysis an essential investment. The pilings and the piers they support have to be protected for many decades to come, and it will be expensive. This is a separate issue from the longstanding housing-in-the-park dispute. The November 2015 pier maintenance report released by the Park was very detailed and persuasive in its advocacy of an up-front permanent fix, in line with what is now being done beneath the piling-supported stretches of the FDR Drive and other similarly constructed structures on the New York Harbor waterfront, where increasingly clean water had led to a proliferation of those voracious wood-eating borer worms (or 'shipworms' as they were once known). One result has been the collapse of some sections of the Hudson River piers. The Bridge Park has worked to avoid a similar fate for the Park piers with continual maintenance of the pilings since at least 2009, but the marine engineers it contracted have concluded the permanent proactive epoxy-encasement would be both more effective and less expensive in the long run. Following that counsel seems like sound public policy. If the new NHA-commissioned report mentioned in the story authoritatively refutes that analysis, that would be important information; it's hard to know, as the report has not been posted on the BHA website, nor is there a link to it here. But the cited example of the routine maintenance of piers and bridges on notoriously turgid and contaminated Lake Pontchartrain seems almost deliberately disingenuous, as pollution itself keeps borer worms from thriving. Luckily for us, but unfortunately also luckily for borer worms, our waters here are far healthier, and are getting cleaner all the time.
Feb. 29, 2016, 4:14 pm
rjg from Downtown Brooklyn says:
@Bill Orme
1 for your thoughts
* * *
I found a copy of the reports on Scribd.com
Here's the link:
https://www.scribd.com/doc/301247216/Brooklyn-Bridge-Park-reports
Feb. 29, 2016, 5:49 pm
Don Y. from Carroll Gardens says:
Wow Mr. Orme, how much do you get paid to shill for the park? And you are an engineer with decades of experience in marine biology, right? Or are you just so darn happy to have free access to a major new building inside the park, free of rent. Keep on truckin' man.
Feb. 29, 2016, 6:16 pm
Lori from UWS says:
Dearest everyone,

PRGSF and coalition (BHA and BBPDF) reports are available here
http://www.savepier6.org
Feb. 29, 2016, 6:51 pm
rjg from Downtown Brooklyn says:
INFO FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOOKING FOR DETAILS:

*** BBP's Marine Infrastructure Preventative Maintenance report is at:

https://brooklynbridgepark.s3.amazonaws.com/p/3266/BBP%20Preventative%20Maintenance%20Plan%20Report_11-3-15.pdf

*** BBP's Financial Model is at:

https://brooklynbridgepark.s3.amazonaws.com/p/2925/BBP%20Financial%20model%20for%20July%20Public%20Presentation%2007%2009%2015b.pdf

*** Barbara Byrne Denham's Report on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Financial Model is at:

https://brooklynbridgepark.s3.amazonaws.com/p/3008/BBD%20Final%20Report%20withcoverletter730.pdf
Feb. 29, 2016, 7:40 pm
informedreader from Greenpoint says:
Let's be serious - you can hash as many documents as you want but we're talking about a park. It does not require tens of millions of dollars to operate. Piers that were built for relative nickels do not require $50 million renovations. The East River is not that deep.

The cost argument is clearly erroneous and has been used to create a "problem" that can only be solved by luxury construction within PUBLIC space. We absolutely need to question any and all development of public space - something that is very much in limited supply in the center of New York City.

Finally, BBP's development board has not exactly been hitting it out of the park - see the closed down bridge and the sneaky height changes on the Pierhouse. Why would we trust these clowns now?
March 1, 2016, 10:25 am
Susan D. from Cobble Hill says:
Good points, informed reader. The people running this park have zero credibility. The wobbly bridge obfuscations, the outright lies on the Pierhouses view plane violations, their refusal to share the financial model, their need to redo so much of the park's actual features - and the law suits over those features - calls into question anything these administrators now say. Anyone with half a brain realizes that as soon as real estate interests took over this park, the park going public got screwed.
March 1, 2016, 11:54 am

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