Court: Pierhouse, 1 Hotel Can Stay, Height Does Not Break Law


    Construction on 1 Hotel and the Pierhouse condos in Brooklyn Bridge Park is free to proceed and finish up, New York State Supreme Court Judge Knipel decided Wednesday. His written decision, which you can read here (link will download PDF), found that although the structure is blocking part of the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in defiance of a 2005 community agreement, it is not breaking any laws. Also, the suit was brought too late, he said.

    The lawsuit turned on the definition of what constitutes a building and whether or not the bulkhead counts. The park’s modified General Plan is silent on the matter, but architectural practice in general typically does not count rooftop structures such as bulkheads as part of the building itself, the judge’s decision said.

    Above and below, Pierhouse construction late last month. Click through to see email statements from all the lawsuit parties.

    Pierhouse Coverage [Brownstoner]
    Photos by Field Condition

    2015_05_17 Pierhouse 12Statement from Brooklyn Bridge Park President Regina Myer:

    We’re gratified the court agrees that the Pier 1 development underwent an extensive, transparent design review process, maintains all protected views, and complies with all height restrictions imposed on the project. Since the park’s inception in 2002, its funding plan has been straightforward: revenue from development sites within the project’s footprint supports the park’s longterm maintenance and operations. Without those sites, there would be no Brooklyn Bridge Park. The court agrees. Our ability to finish the Pier 1 project moves us closer to that self-sustaining goal, and to completing the transformation from derelict waterfront to vibrant open space enjoyed by millions.

    Statement from Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital Group:

    We are very pleased with the Court’s decision and findings of fact that confirm the Pierhouse development complies with the height restrictions imposed on the project which were adopted after years of extensive community review and input. Toll Brothers and Starwood are proud to be a part of the historic redevelopment of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has been transformed from dilapidated piers and industrial buildings into an urban oasis with enormous long-term benefits to New York City and its residents. We are equally proud that Pierhouse will serve as a model of environmental sustainability while also helping to generate the revenue necessary to sustain this world-class public amenity for decades to come.

    Statement from Save the View Now’s Steven Guterman to supporters:

    On Friday, Judge Knipel issued his interim decision to deny STVN our request for a preliminary injunction on the Pierhouse.
    We are deeply disappointed in the outcome, and strongly disagree with the Judge’s findings, most notably that the agreements reached with the community in 2005/2006 are not legally enforceable. What is the purpose of negotiating and reaching agreements with the public if they are not meant to be binding? Judge Knipel opens his decision with the following “Beyond peradventure, the vision of the New York Harbor from the Brooklyn Promenade is an iconic, world class view, worthy of the maximum protection the law can afford.” There is no doubt that “the casual passerby walking along Brooklyn’s majestic Promenade is struck with the indelible impression that these buildings, now nearing completion, are simply too large.” While denying our request over legal technicalities, what is most disturbing in Judge Knipel’s finding is that, despite the worthiness of maximum protection, “When our government had the opportunity to significantly improve the view, a conscience decision was made not to do so.” This conscience decision by our government defies logic, patriotism and respect for the opinions expressed by the community. We will be consulting with our attorney, and our legal committee to determine what our next steps will be. We will update you accordingly. Thank you for your continual support.

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