It’s in her hands.
The fate of two polarizing towers set to rise at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park is now up to the judge that took over the seven-months-long case in August, who failed to broker a second closed-door deal between litigants on Tuesday before their last court appearance on Wednesday.
Justice Carmen Victoria St. George listened intently as attorneys for civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association, who filed suit against the green space’s honchos last July, and the park and its developers went tit-for-tat before the bench, even giving them the gift of more time when she twice delayed what were supposed to be final arguments. And now that everything is on the table, all the litigants can do is sit and wait for her decision, according to the Heights Association’s lawyer.
“We had a very full and fair opportunity to argue our position with Justice St. George and we look forward to getting her ruling,” said Richard Ziegler.
The legal eagles first appeared in the judge’s courtroom on Nov. 2 — months after she took over the matter from Justice Lucy Billings, who said she had to pass it off because she was assigned to another case. Over the course of four days, attorneys representing park honchos and the developers who want to erect the 15 and 28-story towers at the foot of Atlantic Avenue repeated their arguments that the high-rises will generate revenue necessary for the cash-strapped green space to restore the timber piles that support Pier 6, which crustaceans are gnawing away.
And across the aisle, the civic group’s lawyers reiterated their claims that the meadow’s coffers are flush with cash, that park officials violated their own terms for choosing the towers’ developers, and that the shorter high-rise — which would contain 100 units of so-called affordable housing — violates Brooklyn Bridge Park’s 2006 General Project Plan, an operating agreement that requires development parcels within the green space turn a profit.
And St. George continued to push for a compromise even as the attorneys firmly stood their ground, more than once asking the developers’ lawyers why they couldn’t just scrap the tower with affordable housing during the last two days of arguments.
“Why is tower B necessary? It’s still a question on my mind, and why I really spoke to you all about coming to an attempt to resolve the matter with just one big tower,” she said on Tuesday.
But forgoing the shorter high-rise would not allow the development to bring in enough cash, according to a lawyer for the park.
“Physically it could be done, but not economically,” said Hayley Stein.
Meadow honchos applauded their attorneys performance following Wednesday’s session, saying they too await the final decision.
“We’re pleased to have presented our case, and now look forward to the judge’s ruling,” said Eric Landau, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.
There is no deadline for St. George to issue her ruling, which will be announced on the state’s court-system website. And construction on the towers proceeds in the meantime, as stipulated by Justice Billings’ July ruling that it could continue during the ongoing case.