Brooklyn Bridge Park honchos can move ahead with their plan to erect two more apartment towers in Brooklyn’s front yard, but will have to make some concessions to anti-development activists, after the two parties settled a 10-month legal battle on Wednesday.
Park officials can resume the process of selecting a developer for the site, but have agreed to place height restrictions on the buildings, get the state’s approval on their latest plans, and give the public time to respond before the building designs are finalized, which the activists say is still a win for park lovers and a win for transparency.
“This is a victory for the tens of millions of current and future visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said Lori Schomp, a spokeswoman for the plaintiff, a group called People For Green Space. “This park already has millions of square feet of development. Before blocking the park entrance with unneeded private condos and cars, the public should have a say.”
Schomp said her group’s biggest triumph is that Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the semi-private body that administers the park, will now have to give 14 days’ notice before its board members meet to approve a developer for the Pier 6 site, giving the public time to look over the plans and air their objections. The park must also keep the towers at a maximum height of 315 feet and 155 feet — about 30 and 15 stories, respectively — including the kind of rooftop machinery that has caused headaches at the park’s other developments.
The towers are two of seven high-rises that park bigwigs say are needed to help pay for the maintenance of the sprawling waterfront green space. But last year, Mayor DeBlasio announced that 30 percent of the units in these final towers would be below-market-rate, leading opponents to question whether the park really needed the money the development would generate after all.
People For Green Space filed its suit in July last year, arguing that the addition of so-called affordable housing was a big enough change to the original concept that the board needed to formerly amend its plan and subject the whole project to a new environmental impact study. A judge then placed a temporary restraining order on the project until the spat could be settled.
Under the settlement, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation will have to seek approval for the amended plans from the Empire State Development Corporation — a process that will include a chance for members of the public to comment — but it won’t have to go through the new environmental review. Schomp said her group is still allowed to push for that again some time in the future, however.
The park is currently considering 14 proposals from different developers. Suggested features on the various plans include swimming pools, rooftop greenhouses, outdoor chess tables, and something called an “art garden.”