Brooklyn Bridge Park Will Move Forward Under New Housing Deal

The city has cleared the way to move forward with the construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Two state lawmakers have agreed not to block a plan to build condominiums inside the park under a new agreement with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman had veto power over the condos under the conditions of a previous agreement, in place when the city took control of the 1.3 mile long waterfront park from the state last year. But they relented after the city agreed to downsize one building on the north side of the park from around 16 stories to around 12, and introduced a funding formula that could substantially reduce the scale of two other buildings planned on the south side, depending on the potential sale and conversion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower buildings.

The city says that the housing development is needed to ensure a long-term revenue stream needed to maintain the park, about a third of which has been completed. But local residents had long been opposed to private real estate development inside the park.

Sen. Squadron said the deal addressed long-standing concerns from the community, which wants to see the park built while minimizing any private housing on park land. The idea to use tax revenue from the sale of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ buildings was endorsed by the park’s Committee on Alternatives to Housing last December.

But Tuesday's deal was harshly criticized by Judi Francis of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, who said it amounted to a back room deal by the mayor.

“We should have an open, public policy debate,” said Francis. “If the people of New York say ‘we want private housing inside our parks, we no longer have the will to pay for our parks,’ then okay, but at least it’s gotten its proper airing.”