Judge Halts Tobacco Warehouse Transfer

On Friday a judge ruled that the National Park Service illegally redrew the boundaries of state parkland to exclude Dumbo’s Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Stores, putting a wrench in the city’s plans to transfer the Tobacco Warehouse to arts group St. Ann’s Warehouse and take proposals for the use of Empire Stores. The judge has temporarily blocked the structures’ development via a preliminary injunction, saying redrawing the boundaries should have been subject to public hearings. The city and National Park Service maintained that the two buildings had been included in the map of Empire Fulton Ferry State Park by mistake. The injunction is a victory for neighborhood groups that opposed the privatization of both. The Daily News quotes Jane McGroarty, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, which sued to stop the plan along with the Fulton Ferry Landing Association and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, as saying the Tobacco Warehouse “belongs to the park, where it can be enjoyed by all.”
Judge Blocks City’s Proposal for 2 Buildings in Brooklyn [NY Times]
Tobacco Warehouse Deal up in Smoke [NY Daily News]
Judge Blocks Transfer of Warehouse [BK Paper]

Related Stories
A Guide to Brooklyn Bridge Park Controversies, as Told in 10 Years of Brownstoner Headlines
Legal Battle Over Tobacco Warehouse Continues
Park Service: St. Ann’s OK for Tobacco Warehouse
DOJ Weighs in on Tobacco Warehouse Feud
Two Lawsuits Over the Tobacco Warehouse
St. Ann’s Gets the Go Ahead for Warehouse
Tobacco Warehouse Renderings Revealed

10 Comment

  • That’s a great picture, and the Tobacco Warehouse is a really cool structure.

  • Well we will get to enjoy the Tobacco Factory as a ruin for much longer now. Kuddos to the preservationists for stopping a perfectly sensible plan to the prejudice of park users.

  • This seems like a sensible legal outcome. Since when has the Parks Department been able to sell off parts of a public park? The tobacco warehouse is lovely the way it is. The Empire Stores need to be rehabilitated in a manner consistent with laws that protect parklands.

  • So a vacant shell is better than a thriving a well-regarded arts venue?

  • Of all my years observing land use battles, this is top fifty f-d up!! Really laughable from Crown Heights point of view, rich people fighting each other for land.

    NYC Parks Dept. has no jurisdiction, this is State.
    NYC Parks can’t alienate w/o State Legislation.

    The feds gave a mere $250,000 for bulkhead work and submitted a faulty drawing that includes AS OUTDOOR SPACE both Warehouse, EMPIRE STORES and 16 Main (privately owned club space). The drawing was a mistake, molto obvioso.

    Now whether Warehouse should be open space is a question that is logical. They have to have hearings. But not other two buildings.

    The injunction prevents the RFP of Empire Stores, which is the wrong outcome as you noted. Major screw up on park of litigants and judge and system.

    My favorite part – the BHA is preventing the movement of St. Anns, which slows down the much desired Middle School. Way to go Heights snobs!

  • I understand it is compelling to think that this is some sort of wrong-headed legal obstacle meant to slow down the improvement of the park but it is really quite the opposite.
    The government, particularly the Bloomberg administration, decided to break the law and override protections on publicly held parkland. If you or I broke clearly established law, City Hall would throw the book at us.
    The judicial decision is a very good thing not just for Brooklyn Bridge Park but for all parks all over the City. This is an example of ordinary citizens prevailing over City Hall.

  • Park is/was owned by State, not City. City cannot alienate part land without State legislation.

    The judge noted that a public hearing was required, even if map is flawed (includes empire stores, surely not open space, and 16 Main, which is privately owned and not under jurisdiction of park. Map was flawed and National Park Service said so. But Judge says you have to have a hearing. So there will be one….

  • I agree with Minard.

    The Tobacco Warehouse was iconized in 1999 when the community saved it from a demolition that was actually sanctioned by State Parks, all the LEOS and the two leading park groups, the LDC Park development corp and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition. While there is a lot of revisionist history regarding its actual salvation, and many deserve credit, the turnaround happened in a matter of a few days. Even State Parks got into the spirit of things shortly afterwards by enthusiastically cleaning-up and stabilizing the building, installing lighting and iron bar windows, and leasing it out with the Coalition for public and private programs.

    It has been a park feature (not a development component) in every park plan since 2000. The most insulting position the Gov took was that they ‘made a mistake’ back then in not designating the TW as a development site – that would never have been acceptable to the community back then, as it is not acceptable now.

    Unfortunately, there are real merits to the proposed cultural center and even many who fought for the TW back then support the current proposal. It’s also too bad that Government chose not to follow its own processes and de-park the TW properly before finding a solution (a solution has been whispering in its ear for more than five years). I assume that this process shall now happen but not within their time frames, and not in back rooms.

  • it’s amazing to me that so few on this blog care about this park. there are never many comments even though it is one of the most remarkable new public projects in the Boro. I guess it isn’t in central brooklyn so it is off the radar of most posters.

  • “it’s amazing to me that so few on this blog care about this park”

    Minard, I disagree. I spend a lot of time in the new BB Park, as do other PLUSAs I know, and I’ve been there with quite a few PLUSAs and their families. We all think the park is fantastic.