Creative Height Accounting 101

Dec31ViewFromFruitStreetArea

It is obvious from the above picture that the developer of the Pierhouse is ignoring the building height restriction codified in the Final Economic Impact Statement (FEIS). Earlier this year the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) notified the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) that they are not in compliance with the original Pierhouse planned height limit of 100’. If the Pierhouse had been in compliance the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building would still be visible in this picture.  The creative response from the BBPC can be summarized as:

  •            The flood plane was raised after Sandy by 4’ therefore we can raise the building by 4’
  •            NYC zoning rules say that bulkheads do not count in building height therefore we can add 30’ of equipment bulkheads to the roof despite what we told you in the FEIS that the 100’ included all parapets and equipment.
  •           The developer wants to put a restaurant on the roof and needs to comply with ADA regulation and provide elevator service. That elevator needs an addition 10’ or so for overrun area therefore that does not count.

To summarize according to the BBPC:   100’ + 4’ + 30’ + 10’ = 100’

building height

We are calling on Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to:

  • immediately call a halt to the construction
  • develop a restoration plan to restore the Pierhouse hotel building on parcel A to 100’ with no adjustments to the original plan
  • confirm that the Pierhouse residential building on parcel B will not pierce the 55’ limit stated in the FEIS
  • form a community oversight committee with the power to approve or disapprove any future modification

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Missed Opportunity 101

Squibb Park is a little area that does double duty. It serves as a playground for the grade school children from PS 8 just 2 blocks away on Middagh Street and as an entrance way to the Brooklyn Bridge Park from the intersection of Columbia Heights and Middagh via the Bouncing Bridge.  When the vacant Cold Storage warehouse was demolished it transformed the space in a bright and airy playground as can be seen in this photo:SquibbParkBeforePiewhouse

Unfortunately for Squibb Park and our grade school children, the over-sized Pierhouse is now casting an even larger shadow and blocking even more of the waterfront views. Instead of seeing the Brooklyn Bridge our PS 8 students will be looking into hotel rooms and peoples bedrooms.

squibbParkAfterPierhouse

Improving the views from Squibb Park for generations of children is a missed opportunity. It is unfortunate that this was not given greater consideration in the hotel design.

We cannot afford to loose any more of these protected iconic views. The general public only learnt about the extra floors by observing the construction of the Pierhouse.  It is now estimated to be 40’ to 50’ feet above the maximum 100’ height written on page 4 of the Pier 1 Hotel and Residential Development Presentation of Proposals.

Construction needs to be halted pending a full review of the current construction, the development of a remediation plan to bring the hotel building into compliance with the FEIS and Proposal and a full review of the plans for the residential structure to insure that there are no visual impairments from all other important viewsheds.

Please support Save The View Now by signing our online petition.

 

Discrepancy 101

Before beginning construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park the Empire State Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation were required to prepare a draft and then a final Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS and FEIS). Many pages in the FEIS are devoted to the acknowledgment of the special views that exist in the environs of the park and the surrounding area. The following can be found early on in the FEIS, chapter 1, page 6.

Landmarks, Gateways, and Connecting Views
A carefully constructed sequence of visibility, both in the approach to the water and through the park space, is intended to make certain that Brooklyn Bridge Park is accessible and comprehensible both from a distance and within its confines. The proposed plan builds this sequence through landmarks that can be seen from afar, gateways that offer long views into the park, and connecting views that open up the experience of the space. The efforts include measures to fully protect the extraordinary views currently available within the park and its surrounding environs. For instance, the design intends to protect views at the Fulton Ferry and Atlantic Avenue entries, as well as the view plane and the existing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the harbor from the Promenade. New structures have been carefully placed so that important viewsheds and protected view planes around the site have been fully respected.

It goes without saying that many in the community were very concerned about the survival of the unique views that exist throughout the area. The above paragraph clearly says the ESDC and the BBPDC also understand the issue and would be sensitive to preserving the views while building the park and other buildings. It even goes further and says that “New structures have been carefully placed so that important viewsheds and protected view planes around the site have been fully protected.”

Clearly the addition of at least 3 additional stories that block the historic views of the complete Brooklyn Bridge roadway and suspension cabling from the Brooklyn Promenade have not been protected.

Even more to the point is the response to Comment 224 to the Draft EIS. The comment and response can be found in the FEIS, Chapter 24 pages 89 and 90.

Comment 224:
The ESC created photomontages based on the information in the DEIS and from the Sanborn Map Company. These utilize a digital CAD model and photographs of existing conditions. They assume a four foot parapet and penthouses of 25 feet. The montages show that the Pier 1 buildings will block more of the Brooklyn Bridge as viewed from the Promenade and the small building will break the Promenade’s Scenic View Plane and will encroach on views from the Promenade and will partially block the view of the Empire State Building. Some views to Lower Manhattan from the Promenade would be improved. The view of the Brooklyn skyline from the water would be altered, obscuring the Watchtower from view. Views would be created from the water to the Promenade and Brooklyn Heights. The view from John Street towards the Manhattan Bridge tower would be obscured. Views to Lower Manhattan would be partially obscured. The view to Lower Manhattan from Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street would be obscured. (ESC)

Response:
As described above, the drawings generated by ESC are flawed and do not accurately depict the proposed building envelopes. Any required parapet and mechanical equipment would be included in the proposed building envelope. The proposed hotel-residential development on Pier 1 would be approximately one story shorter than the buildings depicted in the ESC visual simulations. The portion of the development within the protected view plane would be 55 feet high; the portion outside the view plane would be 100 feet high, which is approximately the height of the existing Cold Storage Warehouse buildings.

The response unambiguously states that any required parapet and mechanical equipment would be inside the building envelope and that the hotel building would be limited to 100 feet. The height of the hotel structure is currently estimated to be at least 130 feet.

Construction needs to be halted now pending a full review of the current construction, a remediation plan developed to bring the hotel building height into compliance with the FEIS and a review of the plans for the residential structure to insure that there are no impairments from all other important viewsheds.

The complete Final Environmental Impact Statement for Brooklyn Bridge Park can be found here.

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