STVN is happy to report that our efforts are making progress! The Department of Building has issued a parcel stop work order on Parcel B (the condominium) portion to ensure that the design plans for Parcel B are in compliance with SV-1. BBPC made this request to the DOB, following our strong protest and demands that that they do so. Please refer this posting to see the summaries and letters between us and BBPC.
While this is good news, we need your continual support to ensure that these revisions to Parcel B will in fact be compliant. We will continue to watch this development very closely. Furthermore, our fight to have the disaster of Parcel A (the hotel) remedied still continues on as BBPC has shown an unwillingness to intervene with respect to Parcel A.
Read More About the Stop Work Order:
In a previous post entitled “Missed Opportunity 101,” we mistakenly assumed that the opportunity to improve the views from Squibb Park after the demolition of the former National Cold Storage Warehouse had been overlooked by the planners in developing the 2005 Park Plan. Now that we have had a bit more time to read more of the Parks’ General Project Plan (GPP), the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the 2011 Pier 1 Hotel and Residential Development Request for Proposal (RFP), we now know that opening the views from Squibb Park and from Middagh Street were part of the Plan all along.
The 2011 Request for Proposals, written by the BBPC, states the following:
In addition, Respondents are strongly encouraged to transition in height down to no more than 34’ within 80 feet of the southern courtyard, limiting the height of the southern section of Parcel A, across Furman Street from Squibb Park, in order to protect the views of the East River from Squibb Park.
(rendering, page 42 of summary of proposals)
Whoever at the BBPC wrote the above sentence really knew what they were doing. The height of Squibb Park is 41.5 feet, by keeping the portion of the hotel complex at no more than 34’ the views from Squibb Park would have been “fully protected” as stated in the FEIS. We can also see from the rendering Toll Brothers submitted in their response to the RFP, that they read the above sentence and kept the portion of the Pierhouse in front of Squibb Park much lower. We do not have the exact dimensions, but the intent to keep those views open is clear.
How great it would have been if the children from PS-8 playing in Squibb Park could see the expansive views of the harbor as shown in the picture below.
Instead, they have to look into people’s bedrooms:
What happened between the time when Toll Brothers was selected as the winning bidder and when the Pierhouse was built? Why did the BBPC, that had taken so much care to add the above sentence in the RFP to protect the views from Squibb Park allow for the change? Why was there no supplemental EIS written or public discussion that the promised views from Squibb Park were going to be completed obstructed?
All good questions to which we have no answers.
If case you think this change just impacts the view from Squibb Park you are wrong. This change is one of the key factors in why the view from the Promenade of the Brooklyn Bridge is blocked and why you can no longer see the Brooklyn Bridge from the Fruit Street Sitting area.
How the BBPC could allow this change is beyond comprehension. Maybe Toll Brothers snuck it by them? Who knows and frankly, we do not care. It is wrong. It is not what was in the Plan. It was not what was in the RFP. It must be fixed and the building returned to the original specification. Nothing else is acceptable.
In a previous post, we reported on our January 21st meeting with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation and published our letters sent to the BBPC before and after the meeting.
To remain as transparent as possible, we are also publishing the follow-up letter we received from BBPC after our meeting, and a new response to that letter dated 1/26th.
JANUARY 23rd 2015 | BBPC’s Response to the Save the View Now Meeting on 1/21
JANUARY 26th 2015 | Save the View Now’s Response to BBPC’s January 23rd Letter (above)
To many people, it might not make much difference. Looking toward the Brooklyn Bridge from a point on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade roughly between Clark and Pierrepont Streets, pedestrians used to be able to watch cars flow along the bridge’s roadbed, and see the Chrysler Building behind the bridge’s intricate web of cables.
Now, though, the cars disappear behind the top of a new hotel and condominium complex rising in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the Chrysler Building’s Art Deco spire is nearly hidden altogether.
Minor differences, perhaps, but for those who were intimately familiar with the view, the complex is nothing less than a blight.
And, they say, that view was supposed to be protected by an agreement hammered out with park officials a decade ago that was designed to limit the maximum height of the new building, called Pierhouse.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE: NYTIMES.COM
When we started Save The View Now on December 22, 2014, we could plainly see the oversized Pierhouse hotel structure (Parcel A) already towering way beyond the agreed upon plan. While we were concerned about the second building on Parcel B (the condominium) and expressed our concern in our online petition, we were shocked to learn recently that the building plans Toll Brothers submitted to the NYC Department of Building (DOB) for Parcel B depict the building to be in violation of both the Scenic View Plane regulation and the 55’ maximum height limit that is stated in all the Park planning documents.
“You Have My Word”
We have heard repeatedly from the BBPC that they fully intend to honor the SV-1 regulation. A look at the plans for Parcel B filed with the Department of Building (DOB) proves just the opposite. The plans show Parcel B at approximately 68 BBHD in the area subject to SV-1 Regulation and nearly 75’ BBHD in the area subject to the 55’ height limitation. When we asked BBPC about the discrepancy and what was being done to remedy this, the response we received was “you have my word that Parcel B will comply.” In other words, we should just “trust them.”
The disaster on Parcel A shows you what happens if we “trust” them. So we asked them to show us drawings that support that Parcel B would not pierce the SV-1 and the 55’ height limitation. The response we received was “we will get you revised plans as soon as possible.”
We have also heard repeatedly from the BBPC in public comments to reporters and in Op-ed pieces that the scenic view plane regulation would not be violated. I would have expected that they could back that proclamation up with facts. To date, the only “fact” we have is that the plans currently on file with the DOB are in violation of the height limits.
In a written response to STVN the BBPC wrote:
As discussed, we have asked the developer to obtain confirmation from DOB that the plans for the southern residential building comply with the SV-1 restriction. Following receipt of confirmation, we can provide you with approved drawings demonstrating SV-1 compliance.
The above sentence is troubling from a number of prospectives.
First, how is it that the BBPC, who should be responsible for the oversight of the project, does not have copies of the design plans that show compliance with SV-1? Second, following a quick look at the plans filed with the DOB, it is clear that the plans on file are in violation. If we, a community group formed only 4 weeks ago, can undertake this review in just a few minutes, how is it that BBPC has not done the same? To this end, the fact that BBPC is relying 100% of the DOB to confirm compliance is troubling. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a massive construction project that will cost over $350M to fully develop. How is it that they do not have enough staff or competence to confirm compliance with the height limitation? Third, why is BBPC permitting Toll Brothers to continue with construction on Parcel B using design plans in violation of the height limitation? Interestingly, following our meeting with BBPC, our understanding is that the design plans are currently being revised. BBPC would not answer our question as to when these revisions began, but responded again stating that we should just trust them to get it right.
All of this leads to a bigger and more concerning question which is whether BBPC is capable of providing real oversight on any aspect of the Park.
Maybe that is why we are in this mess.
[For Your Review, we are posting official filings. Click on each to expand.]
Brooklyn Heights Scenic View District Outlined In the RFP
Toll Brothers Submission to the Department of Buildings
Toll Brothers Submission with Enlarged Height Legend