Toll Brothers chosen to develop hotel at Brooklyn Bridge Park

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

Toll Brothers, the country’s largest developer of luxury homes, will construct a $295-million hotel and condominium complex at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania-based home-builders won a highly competitive design contest to erect a 10-story, 200-room hotel and a 159-unit residential development at the foot of Pier 1 after Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation board members overwhelmingly approved the plan this morning.

Mayor Bloomberg hailed the decision as a “vote of confidence in Brooklyn and its future as a great place to live, work, and visit.”

“This project will ensure that the thousands of New Yorkers and tourists who visit Brooklyn Bridge Park will be able to enjoy a beautifully maintained space,” he said.

The vote ends a 10-month bidding process between developers eager to build hotels and homes in the green space — a controversial funding strategy intended to cover the costs of building and operating Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Park planners said that Toll Brothers’ proposal is the most financially sound and its aesthetics — which include grassy roofs and interlocking pathways — best reflect the design of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“This is a real turning point for our park,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president Regina Myer. “It brings funding stability to the project and allows us to build more park in the future.”

The giant development — which boasts two multi-tiered glass, stone, and grass structures — will take up four city blocks south of Old Fulton Street and adjacent to the entrance of the park at Pier 1.

Toll Brothers senior vice president David Von Spreckelsen, whose company has a 97-year lease on the site, said he is excited to be developing the waterfront.

“It’s about being able to build in a park with stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, the harbor, and the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Von Spreckelsen, whose company constructed Northside Piers on the Williamsburg waterfront and pulled out of a planned Gowanus Canal project after the waterway was slated for a federal cleanup. “It’s really a unique parcel.”

Condo dwellers and the hotel operator will give the city roughly $3.3 million per year in payments in lieu of taxes and rent — cash that will fund maintenance and operations of the waterfront park.

Toll Brothers expects to break ground on the site by spring 2013.

The project is slated to provide new public restrooms, pathways connecting to the park, street trees and landscaping on Furman Street, a banquet space and meeting rooms for community groups, and 210 permanent jobs and 300 construction jobs at the site.

But longtime critics of the plan to allow housing in the public park say the deal sets a dangerous precedent for future development projects.

“I have been against housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park since I ran for the City Council,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), who cast the lone vote against the plan. “Today’s vote by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation was on the issue of housing at Pier 1 and I voted my conscience.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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