Pierhouse Lawsuit Dismissed Again, View-Blocking Top Will Stay But Canopy Illegal

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    New York State Supreme Court Judge Knipel dashed what would appear to be the last hope of a community group fighting the height of Pierhouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Monday, the judge dismissed Save the View Now’s case against the controversial 30-foot-high bulkhead on top of the building — a structure which blocks the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade.

    Save The View Now responded with a strongly worded statement: “If we allow this ruling to stand, it means that government entities are free to hide and mislead the public and do whatever they deem in their discretion, with no accountability or recourse to the public. This is simply wrong and unacceptable.”

    2015_05_17 Pierhouse 16

    As readers may recall, in July, Save The View Now attempted to revive its previously dismissed lawsuit based on what it claimed was newly discovered evidence developer Toll Brothers and others involved in the project misrepresented the use of the bulkhead.

    The City, Empire State Development Corp, Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital have always contended that the bulkhead — which exceeds the legally mandated building height of 100 feet but is not counted as part of the building — was needed to house the building’s mechanicals since, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they could no longer be located in the basement. Save the View Now said it had uncovered blueprints showing the bulkhead will be used for more frivolous purposes than housing mechanicals, such as food prep and an outdoor shower.

    Judge Knipel in his decision said Save The View Now was simply incorrect: “Documents submitted by both parties clearly demonstrate that the bulkheads contain only stairs, elevators, mechanicals and reasonable access thereto. Rooftop areas designated for food preparation and other activities are outside of the bulkheads.”

    However, he did throw Save The View Now one bone: He told the developer that canopies and ladders above the bulkhead will not be permitted.

    Another important aspect of Save The View Now’s attempt to revive the case was the group’s contention that the statute of limitations had not run out, based on newly discovered documents the group purports show the decision to relocate the bulkheads was made in 2012, not 2011. As readers may recall, the initial suit was dismissed partly on this technicality. The judge said the group had failed to prove any connection between the documents and the statute of limitations.

    Save The View Now said it was shocked by the judge’s decision and will probably appeal. Co-founder Steven Guterman emailed this to Save the View Now members:

    We are deeply disheartened and shocked to receive Judge Knipel’s 2 1/2 page decision ruling in favor of the defendants and dismissing our case. The decision is completely devoid of any explanation about how he came to his conclusion. We struggle deeply with why such a short ruling with no logic or analysis required seven weeks to write…We will be conferring with our legal advisors over the next few days to determine our next steps, which will likely include an appeal. If we allow this ruling to stand, it means that government entities are free to hide and mislead the public and do whatever they deem in their discretion, with no accountability or recourse to the public. This is simply wrong and unacceptable.

    Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. President Regina Myer emailed Brownstoner this statement:

    We’re gratified that the court once again agrees that the Pier 1 development can proceed. Since Brooklyn Bridge 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. Our ability to finish the Pier 1 project moves us closer to completing the transformation from derelict waterfront to vibrant open space enjoyed by millions.

    You can read the judge’s full decision on Brownstoner [PDF].

    [Photos: Field Condition]

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