Yes, the Mayor Does Want to Build Affordable Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park

At a meeting last week with neighborhood groups, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. officials revealed one of the two towers planned for Pier 6 may be an affordable-rate building. This is the 16-story tower, with 140 apartments; the second tower would have 31 stories and 290 units, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

The revelation angered some locals at the meeting, who would prefer as little housing in the park as possible. “Why are we building private housing inside public park land that isn’t going to fulfill the mission of the park?” the story quoted Judith Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, a coalition of neighborhood groups, as saying. Others welcomed the plan for bringing diversity to the park. “The park should not be allowed to exist merely as a residential enclave for the wealthiest New Yorkers,” said Steven M. Cohen, a lawyer who lives in a condo at One Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. President Regina Myer said she would support affordable housing at Pier 6 as long as the park brings in sufficient revenue to meet its operating costs. But it doesn’t now and will need revenue from Pier 6 housing to meet its budget. The park can cover 95 percent of its operating costs from the four sites currently under development, but more funds are needed to fix deteriorating piers, although doing maintenance work now will help, she said.

Any change in the plan will require a new review process, said State Senator Daniel Squadron, who recently signed a letter urging de Blasio not to build more housing on Pier 6.

When the Journal contacted the Mayor’s office, a spokesman said, “Put simply, we can do both. We can secure the necessary funding to maintain this world-class park while simultaneously providing an affordable housing component to ensure this community actually represents Brooklyn.”

What do you think of the plan?

New York City Seeks Affordable Housing Units for Brooklyn Bridge Park [WSJ]
Map via Brooklyn Bridge Park

25 Comment

  • I think most people don’t understand the finances and operating budget of this “semi-private” park. i think those opposed to a lot of this probably understand but don’t let that get in the way of their opposition for mostly NIMBY reasons.

    That said, valuable locations should be used for their most benefit. Even with tax abatements, these buildings, if built market rate, would best be used to generate a huge amount of real estate tax revenues both for the city and to keep the park self funding

    And, the cries that the poor aren’t represented here are just poppycock. anyone and everyone can use the park.

    • @daveinbedstuy – I love you, man. But it’s NIMP (Not In My Park) not NIMBY. Look – if Central Park or Prospect Park had housing in them, everyone today would be totally bummed out. I get the financial angle — but let’s face it — with Pierhouse’s success and development at LICH a certainty, BBDC doesn’t need the money. What’s going on here is a social agenda (affordable housing) that has nothing to do with park economics. This plan is folly. The petition against it will ultimately have thousands of supporters and these people vote. It is gaining about 100 people / day and accelerating. If pols are reading this – ignore it at your peril since you will lose a coalition of park lovers, park visitors, environmentalists, and south brooklyn residents (since this is their main park and the buildings will block the entrance). Last but not least, for the Beastie Boy’s fans out there, these towers would be directly in front of Adam Yauch’s park and cut off all light. We should fight for our right to paaark-y :) Petition below

      • it is the same at the big parks. the buildings are not in the park they are on the periphery, and the wealthy people living there help support it. There are no buildings INSIDE BBP.

        • Exactly. like the finances, the devil is in the details. here it is right in front of people in the form of a MAP

        • Hang out in the park and you’ll see the towers would block all morning sun to the Pier and afternoon sun to Yauch park. Land use already addressed the size and that’s why they were decreased in size in ’11. Affordable housing is laudable but this isn’t a great spot for additional height.

        • These buildings/sites most certainly ARE within the Park, as is Pierhouse. OBBP and Pierhouse have ground leases with BBP, and are subject to all kinds of conditions that BBP sets– the other two Pier 6 sites fall within BBP jurisdiction as well. GIven the way BBP has evolved, a review of the original (2005) plan that contemplated a 31-story tower surrounded by playgrounds and another 16 story tower behind them isn’t out of order.

  • Take one of THE MOST valuable pieces of real estate in New York City that could provide huge tax revenue if it were developed, and set it aside for affordable housing, which will not only not provide tax revenue, but will need subsidies.

    There is no question that Bill de Blasio, just a few months into his mayoralty, is proving more incompetent and unprepared than John Lindsay. Shutter every time he uses the word “progressive.” A mayor is supposed to be a pragmatist, not a progressive. Ed Koch was a very liberal member of Congress who became a pragmatist his first day on the job as mayor. Learn form him, Bill.

    Not to mention that de Blasio is an arrogant and pompous jerk who defends his chronic lateness to meetings by citing George W. Bush, who was always on time. So tardiness makes you effective and promptness makes you incompetent? Unbelievable.

  • cool – where do i sign up?

  • Well, let’s see some numbers. Values are up since th park was planned. How much revenue gets added to the park under full market vs some affodable set aside? How much does the park need?

    OTOH, those two undeveloped parcels seem to have tiny footprints for buildings that will need to have 8-10 units per floor (140 apts in 16 floors, 290 in 31).

  • After Hurricane Sandy, I don’t understand why anyone would want to build *any* kind of housing near the rivers. Do people really think that in the middle of the climate changes we’re experiencing, that the storm was a one-time only event?

    • Because housing can be built to code that meets flooding standards. no, the landscaping won’t be immune from problems but there were many buildings in NYC that got innundated with water yet still functioned and remained habitable. It’s not an issue

  • Every time the mayor comes out with the the newest/latest/greatest plan to solve (insert name of problem here), my eyes just spontaneously roll back. Can’t be helped. Judging from what I can see from my perch in the peanut gallery, he just seems tremendously inept. This is going to be a long 4 years.

  • Please support the petition to stop the building of private towers in public parks. You can also like Save Pier 6 on Facebook

    If buildings are built on these plots, they should be contextual. The Pierhouse is 5-10 stories. The skyscraper would be totally out of context here. This size is simply not appropriate for surrounding area. It would also block the main entrance to the park. If de Blasio is concerned with equality, why should southern Brooklyn residents have towers when the wealthy people in mainline Brooklyn Heights got low and contextual buildings? Just because Souther Brooklynites have less money and less connections doesn’t mean they should get treated differently than the rich people.

    • I was about to sign it until I read the silliness about Brooklyn Heigthts — there are 2 giant middle income co-ops there and 1/4 of the new library tower on CPW will likely be tagged at ‘affordible.” BH has done plenty to do its part. Not to mention being the SRO capital of Brooklyn for years in the 60s and 70s.

  • Isn’t building affordable housing here, hitting the taxpayers a SECOND time?

    We’ve already sacrificed the park green space to private developers (first hit) and now we have to sacrifice again, both quality of park experience (the skyscraper height) and the green space (newer Pierhouse revenues might lessen the need for these additional buildings?) to fund affordable housing? (second fit), for what? 100 people? In a park that over 100 people (from all socioeconomic backgrounds) visit per day? if not more? !

    Since I’m a tax payer, like those who live near Prospect Park and Central Park, I don’t understand this Brooklyn Bridge Park agreement made is 100% privately funded in the first place? Cant’ the city afford to spent a little bit of taxpayer money, here, like in other parks? Also “fully funded” must be a high act and evolving target.. esp. with affordable housing?

    Also to build 30 stories here.. when the other lux condos in the richer park of Brooklyn Heights are 10 and 5 stories, just stinks of inequality….! let’s at least keep it to human scape! Who wants skyscraper shadows on park land?

    picture those cute new baby swings, under dark shadows.. the the skyscraper overhead!

  • Having low or middle income people in the park buildings defeats the purpose of having them there. If the tax revenue goes toward the upkeep of the park, then the way to maximize that is to get the wealthiest people in there who can pay the most taxes. I’m OK with that, since the park that we all enjoy will be properly maintained in perpetuity.

  • I hate to break it to littlestbird, but lots of Parks funding has migrated from City tax levy dollars to other sources over the last decade or two. Most project to renovate or improve prospect and central parks, as well as to provide various programs and ser vices within the parks, is funded through the PP Alliance and central park Conservancy. Same with Hudson river Park. There’s been little direct tax levy to build substantial new parks — Hudson River and BBP have received constructiobn funding largely through commercial or real estate concessions. the taxpayers are not “hit” by buildings in those parks, they receive the benefit of the construction of those new parks without the “hit” of a new tax levy. There are, of course, trade-offs — it would be nice to have those parks without the buildings (mroe acreage, better sight;lines, etc) — but the political will was not there to budget the construction of those parks and levy taxes accordingly.

    Here, the trade-off is that if you scale back the residential development, or dedicate some of it to affordable (non market-rate) housing, you scale back the available funds to complete and then maintain the park. the question is how much mroe does the park need than is already dedicated to it, and how much would these two developments raise? If there would be a substantial surplus, there is room fiscally to scale back the development or reduce the return. There are multiple considerations here — the park, housing density, affordability, etc. — and so the question is how to balance the trade-offs.

  • This affordable housing BS has got to stop. Now people who can’t afford normal rent somewhere need city assistance and 5 star views…?

  • I’m 100% in support of affordable housing being built but seeing the direction BBP is taking is a disheartening.

    The mayor wants housing and to secure future voters by keeping his housing promises. The developers want housing and a sweet deal in terms of tax breaks/abatement. They both seem intent on keeping each other happy and both will get what they want. Unfortunately this arrangement looks like it will benefit a select few rather than tax-payers and park-goers on the whole.

  • Only in this lunatic asylum we call a city is there ‘affordible’ housing on the waterfront. Makes no sense. That said, with a hotel and condos and One BBP, we now have enough housing in the Park — low income or not. SAY NO TO MORE TOWERS!