We’re creating a series of articles refuting point by point information on the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s website. Part 1: ‘Why NYC Zoning Regulations Do Not Apply to the Pier 1 Site Limit’ can be found here.  Please help us and share these facts with your social networks. 




This is the second in a series produced by Save The View Now (STVN) to present side by side, BBPC’s statement of the “facts” and why the BBPC is wrong. Following in order of BBPC’s Pier 1 Development Facts, this installment focuses on the correct reference point for starting the height measurement of the Pierhouse buildings. A review of the record shows that Borough of Brooklyn Highway Datum (“BBHD”) is the correct starting reference point. 

All of the statements attributed to BBPC are copied and pasted entirely from their website and can be found at:  http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/pages/details-on-pier-1-development-site” .


  • BBHD is the standard vertical measuring point and is located about 2.5 feet below mean sea level.
  • Following Hurricane Sandy, the Base Flood Plane Elevation, a point 13.75’ above BBHD, was used by the BBPC as the starting reference point.
  • Consequently, if you start measuring from the Base Flood Plane Elevation, the 100’ Pierhouse hotel complex becomes 113.75’ above BBHD or 13.75’ above the allowable limit (without counting the bulkheads.


“Based on consultation with ESDC, the 100’ height limit for the Pierhouse is determined in accordance with the NYC Zoning Resolution, under which height is measured from the Base Plane. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, the Base Plane for the Parcel A building at Pierhouse was set at 10.2’. After Hurricane Sandy, in response to changes in FEMA’s 100-year flood plane elevations at the site, the Base Plane was raised by 3.55’ to 13.75’.”


  1. NYC Zoning Resolutions do not apply to this project (see Part 1 for a more extensive discussion). Therefore, claiming that the Pierhouse should follow NYC Zoning rules and use the Base Flood Plane as the starting point for measuring height is fundamentally flawed. The FEMA changes post Sandy required the building to be resistant to a flood of 13.75’, it did not require changing the reference point for measuring the building.
  2. Parcel B is almost entirely inside the Brooklyn Promenade Special Scenic Viewing District (SV-1) therefore since SV-1 uses BBHD for all height measurements, it only makes sense that a building inside the Special Scenic View Plane use BBHD. Reviewing the SV-1 Chart below, which was provided by the BBPC, we highlight the following:
  • The height of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is 62’ over BBHD.
  • The Scene View Plane Height starts at eye level at 66’ over BBHD and goes to mean sea level (2.5’ over BBHD) 2300’ out into the harbor.
  • The 55’ maximum building height for Parcel B, which is stated in the GPP and FEIS, makes sense only if it is measured from BBHD. If the measurement is instead started at the Base Flood Plane, then a 55’ building would be 55’+13.75’ or 68.75’ over BBHD, which would result in a complete penetration of the view plane. Since the maximum height of SV-1 occurs at 66’ this could not be the case.
  • The northwest corner of Parcel B is the furthest away from the Promenade’s Point A View Reference Line at approximately 400’. When you calculate the maximum height for a building to not penetrate the Scenic View Plane from a distance of 400’ it is 55’.

Reviewing the SV-1  chart provided by BBPC, shows that the 55’ height limitation for Parcel B was set carefully in relation to the northern viewing Point A from the Promenade using BBHD.  All of the figures referenced in the above chart are using BBHD measurements. Applying anything other than BBHD makes no sense.

  1. The 2006 Design Guidelines state on page 30 “The Project uses BBHD as the basis for all grade elevations on the Site. This statement in the 2006 Design Guidelines is entirely consistent with all the findings and analysis in the FEIS.


Borough of Brooklyn Highway Datum is the correct starting point for measuring elevation.  In order to justify using the higher Base Flood Plane, the BBPC is wrongfully applying NYC Zoning Regulations when they do not apply. Using this wrong reference point allows the Pierhouse on Parcel A (with a 100’ maximum height) to be 113.75’ tall relative to BBHD.

This increase in height results in substantial obstruction of the views of the Brooklyn Bridge roadbed from the Promenade due to the change in angle of the view line.

The Scenic View Plane Regulation that the BBPC acknowledges must be followed, uses BBHD as the starting point for measuring elevation. Furthermore, BBPC’s President stated in a letter to the BHA that “BBHD is the standard reference point from which elevations are determined in Brooklyn.” Yet for some reason BBPC contends, incorrectly, that NYC Zoning Regulations apply so they can use the higher Base Flood Plane as the starting point.

Despite having Park planning documents expressly stating that NYC Zoning Regulations are overridden, BBPC ignores their own guidelines and insists that NYC Zoning Regulations should apply for measuring building height. Incorrectly applying NYC Zoning Regulation results in the Pierhouse building being taller and obstructing more of the view of the Brooklyn Bridge by (i) using the reference point of elevation as the Base Flood Plane instead of the correct BBHD, and (ii) allowing for mechanicals to be placed above the maximum height limits. BBPC’s blatant disregard of the project documents seems all too convenient for Toll Brothers.