07/25/14 10:45am

Prospect Park Lake composite

A Look at Brooklyn, then and now.

Because it was so carefully planned and executed almost 150 years ago, Prospect Park today looks as if it had always been there. Which, of course, was the whole idea. If you don’t know the park’s history, you could easily think that all that needed to be done was to enclose the park with a fence, cut some roads and pathways, build a couple of bridges, follies and a grand entrance or three, and mow the lawn. But in reality, Prospect Park is as constructed as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Both look real, and permanent, and in effect, are, but every aspect of both the park and Hogwart’s School has been carefully thought out and crafted.

After Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted finished Central Park in 1857, Brooklyn wanted a grand park too. The two cities were still fierce rivals, while also co-dependent on each other. Brooklyn’s city fathers came up with a park committee whose president was one of Brooklyn’s leading citizens, James S.T. Stranahan. The committee gave the job of designing the park to Egbert L. Viele, the Charlie Brown of landscape engineering. He had been the Chief Engineer of the Central Park project until Olmsted and Vaux came up with a better design and replaced him. (more…)

brooklyn bridge park pier 6

A judge today will hear a motion to block the city from selecting a developer to build housing towers on two remaining empty lots on Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Neighbors are suing the Brooklyn Bridge Park corporation to require them to perform a new environmental impact study to replace the one that was done in 2005, reported The Wall Street Journal. (more…)

07/01/14 9:30am

grilling

A group of residents who live near Prospect Park want to ban grilling in the park, because they say it causes toxic fumes to waft into playgrounds, public walkways and nearby homes. Park Sloper Daz Ryan has garnered 132 signatures so far on his Change.org petition, “Make Prospect Park Toxic Free by 2015.”

She told the Daily News she lives near the park on 14th Street and suffered through years of hazardous smoke seeping into her house. She is forced to close all her windows, and the smoke has even set off her carbon monoxide detector, she said.

Grilling is only allowed in certain areas on the outskirts of the park, but plenty of parkgoers ignore the rules and set up grills wherever they please, according to the story. The fumes also affect aquatic life, herons, ducks, turtles, frogs and possums, according to park cleanup volunteer Randi Lass.

“Runoff from the charcoal wind up in the lake, threatening all living things that require the lake for sustenance,” she told the News.

At least one park goer was outraged by the proposal. “This is everybody’s backyard,” he said as he grilled burgers. “Not everybody has the privilege of having a backyard.”

Borough President Eric Adams’ office said they were considering the issue. What do you think should be done?

Prospect Park-Goers Call for a Barbecue Ban in the Massive Green Space [NYDN]
Photo by Kristin Resurreccion

05/21/14 10:45am

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Bush Terminal Piers Park on the waterfront in Sunset Park is 95 percent complete, according to city officials, but it’s still not open and will probably not be open this summer. It was originally supposed to ope in 2011, but the brownfield cleanup took longer than expected. Then it was set to open in fall 2013, then in spring this year. Now officials are mum on a target date, according to a story in Brooklyn Bureau.

Phase 1 of the project, located between 45th and 50th Streets along the shore, is 11 acres, with “great views of Lower Manhattan, two ponds, a picnic area, a lawn and wooded zone, plus crucial recreation spaces, including a softball/baseball field and the neighborhood’s first official soccer field.” So far, it has cost $38.5 million.

Eventually, it will hook up with the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and to “local streetscape improvements.”

Impatience Grows Over Promised Waterfront Park in Sunset Park [BK Bureau]
Photo by City Limits

05/19/14 11:30am

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Pierhouse isn’t the only luxury condo development in Brooklyn Bridge Park setting records for eye-popping asking prices. A penthouse in One Brooklyn Bridge Park just went on the market and wants $32,000,000.

The unit is 11,000 square feet and has been “totally reconfigured,” according to the listing. There’s a formal dining room, a landscaped terrace, wine storage for 3,500 bottles, a screening room, library, central air, and a private guest suite. There are also two deeded parking spaces.

To put that in perspective, a 4,700-square-foot penthouse in the same building recently sold for $9,825,000, MNS announced last week. The building, whose address is 360 Furman Street, has 14 stories and 438 units.

Meanwhile, the penthouse in Dumbo’s Clocktower building at 1 Main Street, No. 16, at is still on the market for $18,000,000, according to StreetEasy.

Think this one will go for ask?

360 Furman Street, #PH Listing [Sothebys]

one-brooklyn-bridge-park-pier-6-051314

Monday, the city put out a request for proposals for the last two towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Now the city wants to make 30 percent of the possible 430 units there affordable, according to a story in The New York Times.

Apparently Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. President Regina Myer is now on board with the plan. She said even with the affordable component, the two towers on Pier 6 will “generate more than $70 million in acquisition fees and $3.5 million a year in revenue for the park.”

The two additional towers would go in where parking lots are now. They would be located between One Brooklyn Bridge, pictured above, and Atlantic Avenue.

As has been well covered here, park and housing activists are all over the map on the proposal, with some opposing any additional housing of any sort in the park. Further thoughts?

Update: While the Times said the city put out the RFP Monday, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. put out the request for proposals along with a press release today. You can see them here.

Brooklyn Development Plan Stirs Debates on Affordable Housing and Park Funding [NY Times]

05/09/14 9:00am

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

05/07/14 4:00pm

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Brooklyn Bridge Park has announced its free lineup of movies in the park this summer. Screenings in July and August are “loosely animal themed,” noted Gothamist and include Duck Soup, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Brownstoner is a media partner of the series, which takes place at 6 pm on Thursdays on the Harbor View Lawn. For the full lineup, see Gothamist.

Photo by BBP via Gothamist

05/06/14 9:00am

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Sales of Tolls Brothers’ ultra-luxury Pierhouse condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park have been insanely successful, so much so that the developer has raised prices six times since the February launch. They’re now going for an average of $1,800 a square foot, reported the Wall Street Journal. Needless to say, those are record-breaking per-square-foot prices in Brooklyn.

They’ve also been selling very quickly. More than 40 of 108 units are in contract.

This has given opponents of housing in the park, somewhat counterintuitively, grist for claiming further development should be halted. They say the success of the condos shows the park land was undervalued. State Senator Daniel Squadron is one of those calling for an end to housing in the park.

One of the units will set a record for a condo price in Brooklyn if the sale goes through. “Over the weekend, a buyer signed a contract to pay $11,180,000 for a four-bedroom penthouse with more than 5,000 square feet of space, plus a 3,400-square-foot garden and patio,” said the story.

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has no plans to halt development of two more residential towers in the park, said the story. There was no mention of whether the mayor might require affordable housing in the new developments.

The Pierhouse condos are bringing in more revenue for the park than was expected. Do you think the last two buildings should go up, or should the park call it quits?

Brooklyn Park Condos Sizzle [WSJ]
Rendering by Marvel Architects

The Brooklyn Greenway is expanding to Columbia Street between Degraw and Kane, and a desolate stretch of waterfront is about to get much greener. There’s already a protected bike lane on Columbia Street, but the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is going to begin landscaping the first part of the Columbia Waterfront Park.

They’re looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help with spreading compost, laying seed, and covering the seeded area with jute mats. Volunteers will work under the direction of landscape architect and ecologist Bryan Quinn.

The park is part of the Initiative’s effort to restore native plant communities and the ecosystems they support. Interested volunteers can find RSVP details here on BGI’s website. Gardeners will meet Sunday morning at 10 am at the BGI offices at 153 Columbia Street. To see what the Columbia Street part of the Greenway looks like now, click through the jump.

Rendering by Rogers Marvel Architects for Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

(more…)

02/26/14 9:00am

This past weekend, Toll Brothers launched 12 units for sale at Pierhouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park and “sold them all” immediately! The prices were “well above the original pro forma,” a tipster told us the real estate firm said on its quarterly earnings call. The total sales price for all 12 was “about $44 million,” a Toll Brothers executive said.

The firm said it plans to put seven more units on the market this week. “We…believe we will immediately sell them all,” our tipster quoted the exec as saying.

The joint venture with Starwood Capital includes 192 hotel rooms as well as 108 condos with river views in the park. Construction started in 2013 and is expected to finish by summer 2015. Marvel Architects is the architect. Toll Brothers has “an interest list of several thousand people” for the units.

Rendering by Marvel Architects Via Curbed