Options Weighed at Public Hearing for BBP

bbp-housing-alt-0331.jpgA public meeting was held last night to discuss the nine proposals that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation released a month ago for ways to fund the park that without building private housing. The proposal that many present at the meeting expressed concern about involved creating a Park Improvement District that would charge fees to surrounding businesses and property owners. One speaker called it “frankly unfair.” The proposal of fee-based recreation was also criticized as being too exclusive. Many speakers echoed the sentiment of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Conservancy’s Nancy Webster, who said, “The revenue from the alternatives will not be sufficient [to cover the annual maintenance budget of $16 million], but new funds could help reduce the scale of the development coming in.” Other speakers called for the park simply to be built as quickly as possible, saying possible alternative funding couldn’t be counted on, whereas funding from residential properties would eventually be a more stable source of income. Another big talking point was what Council Member Steve Levin called “the elephant in the room”: The Watchtower properties. Council Member Levin, who is opposed to housing funding the park, said nevertheless that the conversion of Watertower properties could potentially fund the park. Some in the crowd dismissed this idea as “speculative revenue.” (Watchtower revenue has not been factored into any of the forecasts.) This was the last public meeting on the topic but the public comment period ends April 25th, with a final recommendation from a consulting company to come 30 days later. BBPDC then can either accept or reject the final proposal.
BBP Housing Alternatives Still Being Considered [Brownstoner]
Alternatives to Housing Considered for BBP [Brownstoner]

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  • Just finish the park and build the apartments.
    The end result will be infinitely better than what was there 5 or 10 years ago.

  • I oppose fee-based recreation, agreeing that it’s “too exclusive”, and I oppose charging fees to surrounding businesses and residences for a park meant to be used by everyone.

    That said, I also don’t favor more apartments in the park, certainly not as originally envisioned. Maybe scale back the size and number of apartments, and/or build a hotel instead?

    What happened to the idea of naming rights? Not ideal, but the least intrusive option.

  • The issue with fees, naming rights, or almost any of the other ideas thrown out is that they will not deliver the money needed, and they money they do deliver will not necessarily be consistent.

    The only option that could substantially fund the parks operations would be to expand the taxing scope to new buildings/blocks, such as the Watchtower building.
    What that is certainly an option, working out the details and legal agreements will delay the park even more.

  • Naming rights was included in the draft study, under “Sponsorships,” although no dollar amount was attributed to the category. That said, naming rights are not a recurring source of income, as needed for maintenance and operation, and probably measured in six-figures at most.

  • The meeting was typical of such occasions with misinformed activists sneering at hard working public officials.

    Allow me to address one element: the idea that the Watchtower buildings will be sold is completely irrelevant to the Park’s funding issues. This for the following reasons:
    1) They might or might not be sold by the Witnesses. Nobody knows what their true intentions are.
    2) If they sell, it will be for top dollar, to a developer.
    3) A developer will need years to convert the buildings, and will be fought tooth and nail by the very same activists who want to use the buildings’ revenue.
    4) The idea that the City could just evict the Witnesses via eminent domain, as is suggested by some lunatics in the crowd, is ridiculous (both legally and practically)
    5) Even if the stars align and they sell, and re-enter the tax rolls, the revenue will go to the City’s general fund. That is the law.

    These people should move on, and drop their irresponsible behavior. They are getting a gorgeous park, it is not yet good enough for them. Speak about entitlement.

  • The idea of creating housing on the old Port Authority docks pre-dates the idea of a park. Actually, a low-scale development of fancy modern townhouses with private docks with publicly accessible paths and bike lanes for the public to admire the scenery and sunset would have probably been the best use for the site. The idea of a public park was driven by the folks in Brooklyn Heights and elsewhere who genuinely believed the land could serve a higher public purpose but they could never untangle it from the real estate scheme.
    Meanwhile the Mayor, convinced that there will be a huge surge in population (contrary to what the census indicates) wants beaucoup housing to meet this tremendous demand that so far seems to be entirely in his head.
    These public hearings are just bread and circus. The powers that be are scratching their heads and wondering what to do now to get dough from this site? However the public is already being bled dry by taxes and surcharges so it ain’t easy.

  • Minard Lafever – $1000+ per sq ft in nearby neighborhoods indicates that census or not there is HUGE demand for residential housing in this area.

    The whole debate is ridiculous, housing built on the edges of the park is frankly the least intrusive most logical way to pay for this park.

  • We need housing.

    Some of the anti-housing people are worried that it will affect the prices of their own property — effectively they want a public park that only they can live near.


  • So let’s say the right thing in the end is to get housing built. The concpet, scale and budget of this park was pre-Lehman. Now we are post recovery. What developer is going to build these new developments? What bank will loan? DOB filings for new construction are at an all time low…and there are many stalled sights just getting back to life. And how do the new changes in the mortgage industry affect future housing planning at this time?

    I live at 360 Furman, we are just a little over half sold…there’s quite a bit of property still available right now; probably enough for 2-5 more years of selling, easily…that’s about 300,000 square feet to move!

    And someone thinks they can build, sell more sooner just around the corner????

    The focus of the meeting (I was in attendance) was the housing debate…but, what about the budget and reduction of certain parts of the park? Downscaling just a bit?

    What about a study of the environmental impact of more people living there? Roads that become driveways and less space dedicated to the park users?

    Hopefully, a compromise will be reached…one where the scale of the housing buildings are reduced…and some appropriate commercial spaces are made…we need to attract people here…that attraction comes offering people and families things to do besides just sit on the lawn!

    Finally, I dont think anyone in favor of housing to complete the park wants a finger sticking up from it!?? Do they?

  • I’m pro-housing. I say build it, but obviously they are stymied by the market. Remember that? I agree there is demand for affordable housing but not so much for millionaire housing which is what this would have to be. Millionaires have their pick of sites. According to Bloomberg news the median price of an apartment in Manhattan went down by 9.9% in the last quarter. They didn’t talk about Brooklyn, but how many of the apartments are still empty in One Brooklyn Bridge Park after almost three years? Half?

  • As soon as Little Bobby Levine gets real about prices on the east side of 1BBP, the side that will be facing a 10-20 year construction project, I am ready with a check for the down payment.

  • Watchtower properties can NEVER be used as MANDATE OF STUDY precludes use of any properties that would pay taxes otherwise go to City of New York.
    Total red herring.
    One speaker proposed threatening the Witnesses with foreclosure to force them to cough up money for park! outrageous and would never happen…

    Park will need housing revenue AND new ideas from study, but not at the scale proposed.

    One speaker pointed out that if you took ALL FORTY bars and resto on Smith they rent they pay wouldn’t do a third of budget.
    You’d have to turn park into a movieshoot/event space/rental to do 8mm a year.
    They can’t even find a bidder for one resto in park!

    anyway, you could tell from CM Steve Levin’s very tepid and half-hearted remarks it is over.

  • Minard, drop in Manhattan prices was cause average size of apartment sold was smaller or lower prices. Stats deceiving. Market mixed. Prewar in shortage in Manhattan, townhouses in BKLYN going into shortage (renovated anyway), condos in shortage next year.
    Issue at One BB is building not for everyone (huge hallways, illusion of isolation) and BQE units are a big challenge.
    There is NO OTHER option to fund park but housing. A vote for taxes for park will fail, Watchtower stuff a red herring, events/charges NO WHERE near enough. Study was an exercise.
    I do feel sorry for the folks that have worked on the park for 20-26 years but they are totally overreacting to the housing.

  • ARKIT – if I understand this, you bought a place a 1BBP (obviously recently) and now YOU are going to meetings seeking to limit or eliminate the future housing that is required to support the park. (that you get to enjoy right out front) and presumably shift that financial burden to someone else; While at the same time insuring that your apartment appreciates (or better retains) its value.

    You have my respect….it is rare to see someone so blatantly and unashamedly demonstrate their own self-interest in a brownstoner post before. Love it!!!

  • I think a high end hotel would be great with a restaurant/bar as well.

  • HAHA GREAT POST…Now that is the truth.

    “ARKIT – if I understand this, you bought a place a 1BBP (obviously recently) and now YOU are going to meetings seeking to limit or eliminate the future housing that is required to support the park. (that you get to enjoy right out front) and presumably shift that financial burden to someone else; While at the same time insuring that your apartment appreciates (or better retains) its value.”

  • TO: fsrq: There are people that live in the building both for and against more housing. I said the park will probably have both…additional housing and commercial developments in the end.

    The one thing I think no one wants, which I’ll say again, is a 30 story building that belongs in a downtown setting.

    360 Furman also has provenace in that it was there, part of the industrial era, and it just grazes above the BQE/Promenade horizon line.

    I didnt buy at 360 (over a year ago) for the park, but the building. I signed before the city forked over the 55$M to give the park a push along, so the park was in question of going forward at all…I moved there for the building, as nothing else in the area offered the interior finishes and quality design…the amenities, the large uncrowded halls (I like), same floor storage, and, of course, living in the Heights.

    I think 360 Furman is in keeping with the spirit of the park, which is designed to be sustainable (regarding natural resources and materials). A repurposed old building is a wonderful thing when done right.

    That’s one the reasons I lived in Dumbo before relocating… there was some sense of preservation. I wasnt too keen when they built that tall finger on Adams street next to the Manhattan Bridge. All the other new buildings that are scaled to the older buildings fit in just fine.

    I know it’s a highly controversial topic, but I wouldn’t mind paying a $1 more a day in taxes for Park Improvement District…so you were wrong about suggesting I favor shifting the financial burden to others, as you said… lot of people think a PID could work, as well…it’s kind of like a conservancy effort, but collected instead of being charitably donated.

    Of course, everyone’s property values in the surrounding areas to be determined would benefit from their proximity to the park…ait’s kind of like big retail…pay to play.

    My bigger concern is if the plan that is adopted is one that developers won’t or can’t commit to…then what? There’s just a vaccuum? No money? No park?

    And to be honest (not shameful), I am concerned that new developments could stagnate the remainder of selling out 360 Furman, and possibly force RAL the developer of 360 to consider marketing more units as rentals which obviously doesnt benefit our condo.

    Furthermore, regarding my blatent shame, some people would call it transparency or honesty…something the dialogue in this large debate could use more of.

  • ARKIT, any new building is five years away….don’t worry about it… issue at One BB is price, lower the prices to sell them, everything sells, question of price

  • ARKIT – that is a very long post to simply say ‘I moved in and now I like it the way it is, so I am opposing future change’ …

    I am actually giving you kudos for your honest NIMBY stance.

    That being said, many of us have been waiting two decades for this park to be completed and while your opposition is certainly understandable when looked at solely from your own selfish view; the ‘deal’ to build this park, funded by housing on the margins was a LONG time in coming. I am sure you can understand that from the viewpoint of everyone else in Brooklyn who was looking forward to this amenity being complete and beautiful; the renewed attempt to quash this in-progress plan is very disturbing no matter how much people try to dress it up .

    and as said above 1BBP problem is simply pricing.

  • fsrq – You might have a reading comprehension problem to address. I never said ‘no housing, not in my backyard’. Did I? I said the final plan will likely result in both residential and commercial development. The change is fine, if it’s in scale with the park and surrounding area…that’s all.

  • I agree about the prices at 1BBP. I have looked at apartments there several times. And there are units I really like. But, the prices are still too high — at least, I’m not willing to pay them to live there. Add to that exorbitant maintenance, and, to me, that explains why it’s only 1/2 sold after all these years.

  • ARKIT you can make that whole ‘I dont want no development, I just want contextual development’ all you want; we’ve heard it before…BUT like the last time that nonsense was spouted (AY) – the plan doesnt make ECONOMIC sense with low density housing (and other types of development at that location cant support the park either – unless you want to put in a Walmart or something) – so your “moderate” stance, is in reality a NIMBY recipe for NO CHANGE.
    Now maybe you are naive or uninformed and actually beleive the ‘contextual’ argument – but I assure you, most of the “opposition” understands the truth that the “in context” argument is just a soundbite -because either high density housing gets built (on the FRINGES) which through residual payments can support the complete park OR the rest of the park goes unfunded and whats there now will struggle to be maintained.