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

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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
Posted 12:15 pm, July 21, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Anon from Brooklyn Heights says:
This has been a sham since day-one. We wanted a park, planned a park, funded a park and now we have non-park buildings - condo towers that are huge - towering inside our "park", right up against the play areas set aside for the youngest children and one building won't put one penny into the park's budget and the other, huge building is unnecessary - the park is already over funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. These so called "park" administrators and their board members are completely irresponsible but I blame our elected officials for standing by and carping but doing NOTHING to stop this horrible loss of parklands. Defines deplorable.
July 21, 2017, 10:40 am
NN from Boerum Hill says:
The Brooklyn Heights Association is the same group that complained about the basketball courts on Pier 2 attracting black players from the Ingersoll Houses to Joralemon Street. Now they're trying to block affordable housing at Pier 6.

This racist old guard wants to keep Brooklyn Heights 100% rich and 100% white. I hope they lose.
July 23, 2017, 9:18 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
I guess the bribes made it to their destinations.
July 23, 2017, 9:47 am
Sam from Yosemite says:
The gpp says that less than 15 percent of the park can be used for development
Even with the 2 sites it is less than 15 of the land area. 360 Fuhrman was added by the city later. The city have up millions in real estate taxes. These were working piers never parkland
. I think we got a world class park even with constant litigation.
July 23, 2017, 12:24 pm
ujh from downtown says:
Sam from Yosemite:
Agreed. Whether development covers 15 per cent of the land, or 15 per cent of land and water combined, some people insist on glasses that are 100 per cent full. One must wonder how many, if any, of the opponents have ever set foot in the park, not to mention walked the length of it and are grateful for what exists.
July 23, 2017, 6:23 pm
Canonchet from Brooklyn Heights says:
BHA was for the towers before they were against them, as the original key community proponent of the park-with-housing plan. The towers project as currently designed is lower in height and smaller in number of units and residents than the tower specs originally approved by the BHA. What changed? 1) A minority of those planned new units are now designated for affordable housing, an unsurprising modification of the plan by appointees of a mayor who was elected on a promise to use city powers to increase the stock of affordable housing; and 2) the affluent new residents of the first luxury apartments sold inside the park, at 360 Furman, the large building adjacent to the towers site (which is more than twice the size of the two new towers combined), are equally unsurprisingly opposed to having those towers go up next door, even though the 360 Furman co-op buyers were all expressly advised in writing by the realtors that the towers were in the park plan and would one day be built, have now successfully organized to press the BHA and elected officials to reverse their earlier support for this part of the original housing-for-funding plan and preserve their southern views.
July 24, 2017, 11:55 am
bklyn20 from Brooklyn says:
The park doesn't need any more money. The park needs more PARK!

The people who are working to keep more green space in BBP have been working for an actual park for decades.

Haven't you seen the highscrapers casting shadows all over downtown Brooklyn? Where is their green space? Perhaps they can grow a Bonsai park on their mantels.

The local electeds have been for more park and less un-needed towers for quite some time. The extra apartments were only to be built if the park needed it - and it does not need it at all.

Central Park has no towers in its footprint. Fort Greene has no apartments inside it borders. Prospect Park has no condos on the Nethermead. Brooklyn Bridge Park has plenty of apartments is its borders, and needs no more.
Aug. 4, 2017, 5:56 am

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