City Secures Rest of Willoughby Square Park Properties

It looks like we were on to something when we reported the city’s acquisition of two properties in the Willoughby Square Park footprint earlier this month. Now the rest of the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place: Public records show that the city has taken title to nine properties through the process of eminent domain. The properties include 392, 402, 404, 406, 416, and 418 Albee Square as well as 223, 225 and 229 Duffield Street. Based on our understanding of how the eminent domain process works, the owners will not receive full compensation from the city until appraisals are completed. A few of these buildings still have some rent-controlled tenants in them who are being relocated by HPD. As for the city’s plans for the project, the RFP process for both the landscape design of the 1.25-acre park and the development of the 700-car underground parking garage have been completed but the contracts have not been awarded or announced yet. Update: The Underground Railroad property is not part of the park parcel.
City Spends Almost $40 Million on Two Downtown Lots [Brownstoner]
Willoughby Square Park Plan [Department of City Planning]
Parks & Open Space [Downtown Brooklyn Partnership]

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  • Whatever happened with the “Underground Railroad” house? Is it still going to be a museum?

  • Parking for 700 cars! Unnecessary. This year the NYCDOT released a report that during the boom years of 2000-2007, when employment and population grew steadily, vehicular traffic remained flat while transit and biking grew rapidly. Therefore, just because you’re planning for growth in an area, does not mean that you need to go about increasing the amount of parking.

  • BrooklynLovely.

  • Beau Guest, regarding the Underground Railroad Museum, there was a newspaper article back in late November, early December stating that an oral agreement had been agreed upon between the developer of the Indigo Hotel on Duffield Street and the owner of the Underground Railroad House to incorporate the museum into the hotel (with the assistance of the city), but no written agreement was ever executed because the homeowner “disappeared” and was being completely unresponsive to requests by the Indigo developers to conclude the deal. That’s the last thing that I’ve heard….

  • I work with the advocates of 227 Duffield, and after months of discussion with V3 (the owners of Indigo), we developed a solid proposal with the assistance of a new team of lawyers. V3 rejected our proposal. We have always been and will continue to consider any proposal they might have.

    Our new team of lawyers and others are laying the organizational and financial groundwork for an independent museum. This is separate from the City’s initiative to commemorate Brooklyn’s anti-slavery history- we’re glad to work with them as well.

    It’s been a odd ride, but I am optimistic that we will be able to create a museum at 227 Duffield, and I think this will be a great addition to Downtown Brooklyn.

  • Our schools are cutting their budgets while there’s money to build underground parking. Are you freakin’ kidding me?

  • mgm-

    If you think an underground parking lot is a strange priority for our current budget, you’ll probably be interested in this article from (12/9/08). It talks about the $400,000,000 of low interest financing for the City Point project right next to the new micro-park/parking lot:

    Advocates say housing subsidy too high for CityPoint units, urge HDC to reconsider

    When the issue is affordable housing subsidies, an applicant shouldn’t be asking for more per unit than has been established for other projects.

    That was the lesson of a public hearing held yesterday by the New York City Housing Development Corporation (NYC HDC), a first step to consider $400 million in low-interest financing for some 810 units–perhaps 20-25% affordable–at the the CityPoint tower planned at the Albee Square Mall site in Downtown Brooklyn.

    Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), a fierce critic of the effects of the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning, brought several members to protest the CityPoint plan.

    But the most effective testimony came from Paula Crespo, a planner at the Pratt Center for Community Development working with FUREE, who pointed out that the $1.9 million in bonds requested per unit was “extremely high.” Some HDC projects have required only $150,000 to $400,000 per unit, she said. (Clarification: The testimony she delivered was on behalf of herself and Pratt Center director Brad Lander.)

    [continues at ]

  • I don’t know if the Citypoint folks are going to get anywhere near the $400 million that they requested, but I’d be surprised if they don’t get significant assistance from the HDC. Especially since the city seems to be moving forward with Willoughby Square Park, the last thing they would want is a beautiful new park next to a huge hole in the ground where Citypoint is supposed to be. The developers probably figured if they want to receive the high end of the “$150,000 to $400,000 per unit” they needed to come out the box with an unrealistically high request because the amount that they would actually receive would get reduced anyway.

  • Very disappointing the city caved to Joy Chatel. Chatel’s eyesore of a building should’ve been torn down years ago. Now it’s just going to be a giant pimple on the face of Downtown.

    It’s no surprise FUREE is a critic of the rezoning. The members are a bunch of welfare sucking, self-entitled project dwellers who want to keep Brooklyn completely ghetto. What a joke.

  • I’d love to see something that commemorates Brooklyn’s role in anti-slavery. Very few realize that the home of the abolitionist movement was Brooklyn Heights.

    The Underground Railroad was nothing compared to what Reverend Henry Ward Beecher did at Plymouth Church.