BHA and STVN file lawsuit

For immediate release

BHA and STVN file lawsuit against Toll Brothers and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp to ensure Pierhouse compliance with SV-1

Brooklyn, NY – December 4, 2015. The Brooklyn Heights Association (“BHA”) and Save the View Now (“STVN”) have joined forces to ensure that the construction of Pierhouse on Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park is completed in compliance with the Special Scenic View District (commonly referred to as “SV-1”). Yesterday, the BHA and STVN filed a lawsuit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (“BBPC”), the City of New York, the Department of Buildings (“DOB”) and Toll Brothers, among others, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to ensure that Pierhouse is brought into compliance with SV-1.

As previously announced, a survey was completed revealing that the penthouse of the condominium building of Pierhouse intrudes into SV-1 by approximately 20 feet. On October 16th a complaint was filed with the DOB regarding the violation.  A copy of the survey and of the report by the licensed surveyor was also submitted to the DOB and BBPC. For nearly 7 weeks, we heard through Senator Squadron’s and Councilman Levin’s offices that the DOB would provide a timely response.  We finally learned two days ago that the DOB would not be taking action. 

This violation of SV-1 is another example of Toll Brothers’ overbuilding of Pierhouse in disregard of the project plans. It also exemplifies BBPC’s failure to properly oversee the project and uphold the commitments it made to the community. It is regrettable that we must resort to litigation as BBPC and DOB were unwilling to meet with us to discuss the survey report and explain why no action would be taken to address the significant intrusion into SV-1. 

STVN has also begun its appeal relating to the Pierhouse hotel complex’s exceeding the 100 foot height limitation mandated by the project documents and by BBPC’s commitment to protect the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. STVN is pleased to announce that the BHA has made a significant contribution to fund this appeal.

For more information please contact: Peter Bray, Executive Director, Brooklyn Heights Association; 718-858-9193, or Steven Guterman, Save The View Now, at savetheviewnow@gmail.com

*****

Toll Brothers’ Crafty Invention

We received copies of Toll Brothers documents from the DOB today. It appears they invent a new method of drawing the scenic view plane framing lines to show they are in compliance. The critical point is “Point A” which is defined as the intersection of Orange Street and the Western Face of the Promenade. Toll Brothers has redefined the western face of the promenade as a point out in the air over the BQE / Furman St instead of the rail line on the Promenade at Orange Street. To define Point A as “in the air” and not on the promenade defies the language and intent of SV-1 and common sense.

More to come on Friday.

Update: New Survey Finds Pierhouse Breached Scenic View Plane

Pierhouse Breaches into the Scenic View Plane Despite Assurance of Compliance by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation

 BBPC and Mayor de Blasio have failed yet again to monitor the construction by Toll Brothers

SaveTheViewNow commissioned a recently-completed survey of the building on Parcel B in the Pierhouse development which concluded that the penthouse apartment encroaches almost 20 feet inside the protected Scenic View Plane District. The breach of the Scenic View Plane is the latest example of how the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp (BBPC), a not-for-profit outside of normal New York City government and controlled by the Mayor, has failed to provide any meaningful oversight to the construction by Toll Brothers and Starwood on Pier 1.  In addition, Brooklyn Bridge Park has a unique legal and ownership structure which limits the DOB’s ability to monitor the construction.

The survey of the building on Parcel B in the Pier house development concluded that the penthouse apartment encroaches almost 20 feet inside the protected Scenic View Plane District. This significant intrusion into the SV-1 protected area is the latest egregious violation by Toll Brothers and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. STVN and the Brooklyn Heights Association requested the help of Senator Squadron and Councilman Levin to deliver this disturbing information to the Commissioner of the Department Of Buildings (DOB) and to request that the DOB take immediate action.

The breach of the Scenic View Plane is yet another example of how the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp (BBPC), a not-for-profit outside of normal New York City government and controlled by the Mayor (the Mayor is the only designated “Member,” of the BBPC, as defined in the BBPC bylaws), has failed to provide any meaningful oversight to the construction by Toll Brothers and Starwood on Pier 1.  The BBPC previously allowed the obliteration of the Brooklyn Bridge views from the Promenade despite assurances made to the public in 2005 to protect these iconic views1.

You can read more about this violation here: http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2015/10/19/advocacy-group-says-survey-shows-pierhouse-project-juts-protected-view-plane

Brooklyn Bridge Park has a unique legal and ownership structure which limits the DOB’s ability to take action. The Empire State Development Corp (ESDC) is the owner of the Brooklyn Bridge Park land which is being leased to Toll Brothers, through the BBPC. The ESDC has exercised its power to override all New York City Zoning regulations, which results in the DOB having very limited jurisdiction.  The DOB monitors this project only for building codes related to health and safety, not with regards to zoning issues. Day-to-day management of this building project is in the hands of the BBPC, which is controlled by the Mayor.  This arrangement has been financially very beneficial to Toll Brothers and Starwood (who are estimated to be making over $100M of excess revenue due to the oversizing of the Pierhouse). At every turn, the BBPC and the Mayor’s office have helped the developers maximize profits at the cost of depriving all future generations of Brooklynites, New Yorkers and the multitude of tourists from around the world, the iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade and surrounding areas.

We greatly appreciate all who have already contributed to the legal fund, enabling us to, “fight the good fight.”  We are asking  for your help, again, as we move forward with the Appeals process on our request for a Preliminary Injunction regarding the excess height on the buildings located outside the SV1 area.  As of now, we do not know if we will need to go to court regarding compliance of the penthouse apartment with the SV1 regulation.

We greatly appreciate any help that you can give.  If you would like to contribute, please click here to donate: http://savetheviewnow.org/donate/

20 Community Organizations. 1 Letter to Mayor De Blasio.

Oct 7, 2015 — 

Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio;

Whereas, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation made an agreement, and commitment, to the public to limit the height of the Pierhouse to ensure that the famous views from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade are protected;

Whereas, such commitment has been broken, as confirmed by former NY City Parks Commis-sioner Adrian Benepe;

Whereas, the Park Corporation has failed to take action to rectify its breach;

Whereas, the Park Corporation has failed to work with the community to reach a resolution;

Whereas, the Park Corporation continues to rely on a legal technicality that the public did not catch their violation and bring a lawsuit in time;

Whereas, Toll Brothers and Starwood are estimated to make over $100 million in windfall profits resulting from this breach;

Whereas, the public trust that existed to create Brooklyn Bridge Park has now been compro-mised;

Whereas, the cherished views from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade will forever be scarred;

Whereas, the public is unwilling to accept this travesty as a permanent part of the 65 year history of the majestic Brooklyn Heights Promenade;

As the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation is a Not-For-Profit Controlled by the Office of the Mayor, we ask that you do everything in your power to make things right and uphold Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s commitment to limit the height and size of Pierhouse.

Sincerely,

Save the View Now

#SaveNYC

Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association

Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council

Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund

Brooklyn Heights Association

Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association

Citizens Defending Libraries

Cobble Hill Association

Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus

Fulton Ferry Landing Association

Gowanus Preservation Society

Historic Districts Council

NYC Park Advocates

Park Slope Neighbors

People for Green Space

Project for Public Spaces

Sierra Club

Tribeca Trust

Vinegar Hill Neighborhood Association

West End Preservation Society

Willowtown Association

 

STVN will appeal the recent decision by Judge Knipel

Sep 25, 2015 — 

Dear STVN Supporters,

We received a lot of encouragement from you to push ahead with an appeal, after the disappointing news that Judge Knipel decided to dismiss our case in his September 21st opinion. In addition, in a recent Crains’ NY report, Adrian Benepe, who was head of the city’s Department of Parks and on the board of the BBP Corporation at the time the promise was made, confirmed that there is no question that a commitment was made to protect the views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade.
We spoke with Jeff Baker, our lead attorney, to discuss an appeal and believe it is the correct course of action, though it will be difficult.

Substantively, we have a stronger record going into the appellate court, as Judge Knipel granted our request for renewal. This allows for the important new evidence, the hidden uses of the bulkheads and the fact that the leases for the Pierhouse include a strict 100’ height limitation, to be included in the record. Judge Knipel’s rulings centered around his agreement with the Defendants that this is an Article 78 case subject to a 4 month statue of limitations and that we were simply too late in filing our law suit. We disagree that this is an Article 78 case and therefore a 4 month statute of limitation does not apply. Nobody, not even Judge Knipel, has concretely pointed to a date of any “governmental action” being taken by BBPC/ESDC that we should have challenged.

To the contrary, we have shown that at each key instance raised by the Defendants, no action was taken by these agencies and thus, there is no “government action” available for us to challenge. The genesis to our law suit is that BBPC/ESDC failed to take action, thus inherently there is no action to challenge. This is why we filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment, which is subject to up to a 6 year statute of limitations.

Allowing this decision to stand sets a horrible precedent, giving New York State governmental entities complete discretion to ignore procedures and processes put in place to protect the public interest.

This is an important case. It is also clear that the iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade were promised to be protected by the Park planners in 2005. Anyone reading the 2005 General Project Plan and Environmental Impact Statement would come to that conclusion. At some point, however, the combined Defendants decided that the view was no longer important to protect, instead it was more important to oversize the buildings so that Toll Brothers could reap additional revenue, by our estimate, of about $140 million.
We are cognizant that in assessing our next steps, the cost of the appeal must be considered. We received a reasonable estimate for the appeal from our legal counsel, and believe it is achievable from a fundraising perspective. Therefore, we are again appealing to you to donate to our legal fund so we can continue this fight to restore the views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Promenade. All amounts are appreciated.

We greatly appreciate all your financial support and encouragement. We are overwhelmed by the number of responses we received from you to pursue our case to the appellate division.

To donate online please follow this link: www.savetheviewnow.org/donate

Or you can mail you donation to:

People for Preserving the View Foundation
c/o Steven Guterman
75 Columbia Heights
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Please make checks payable to “People for Preserving the View Foundation.

Thank you,

Steven Guterman
Save The View Now

Statement about Judge Knipel’s Decision

 

Dear STVN Supporters,

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.
Attached for you review is the decision from Judge Knipel. JudgeKnipelDecision21Sept2015
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.

STVN supports SAVE PIER 6

Save the View Now has written the Empire State Development Corporation to support the unnecessary buildings proposed for Pier 6.

” The ESDC should not break another commitment made during the planning process for this Park, should reject the proposed modification and then should make sure that the General Project Plan is not disregarded a second time”

See Full Letter Here: STVNPier6LetterToESDC

 

The Wholesale Remodeling of New York City

image

Pierhouse – the eyesore in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Since Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo took power in New York the pace of development and massive-scale construction has been breathless. Between 2013 and 2014 the absolute number of condominium units built nearly doubled, and they represent but the tip of a proverbial iceberg of wholesale remodeling of our city.

Two very interesting articles have crossed our paths recently and we’d like you to read them.

The first piece is a very thorough history of the the development that is happening right now in New York City which takes into consideration the irreversible ramifications of multiple projects:

The Second piece gives a historical account of the 1986-1988 community struggle involved in creating what is now called the Brooklyn Bridge Park .

Please share these articles with your friends and colleagues, political leaders and influential thinkers in our fair city. Time is running out.  You can use the social media links below to share.

 

 

‘Chop off the illegal floor,’ say opponents of Pierhouse | Brooklyn Daily Eagle

After hearing extensive arguments from attorneys representing a group fighting the height of the Pierhouse hotel/condo complex in Brooklyn Bridge Park and the agencies and corporations backing the project, State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Knipel on Thursday said he would review the written and oral arguments before rendering a decision.

Source: ‘Chop off the illegal floor,’ say opponents of Pierhouse | Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Please Join Us in Court Tomorrow, August 6th

Join
Save The View Now
at the
Kings County Supreme Court

Thursday August 6, 2015, 10:30 AM

Please join us this Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 10:30 AM, as our case against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp and Toll Brothers is back in court. The hearing will take place in the Kings County Supreme Court building located at 360 Adams Street. The Honorable Lawrence Knipel is the presiding judge. His court room is on the 7th floor.

We expect the proceedings to be open to the public and the press. Join us and show your support. We all want the Pierhouse development returned to the specification promised to the public and the community in 2005.

This week People for Preserving the View Foundation (PPVF), the legal entity created to fund the litigation, received positive notification from the IRS that it has been granted 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization. As such, all contributions will be tax deductible to the full extent possible. If you have already contributed, thank you. We expect to begin mailing and/or emailing contribution confirmation letters over the next few weeks.

We greatly appreciate the out-pouring of support you have already provided; however to fully take advantage of the new evidence supporting our legal case, we need to continue to receive additional contributions. If you can, please go to our web page and contribute online or by mailing a check.

http://savetheviewnow.org/donate/
Checks can be written to the order of People for Preserving the View Foundation (PPVF), c/o Steven Guterman at 75 Columbia Heights.

STVN will continue to pursue all legal measures to assure that the MGPP is followed and the vision of the park maintained. In the meantime, we demand that the BBP leadership explain why they are allowing construction of buildings that clearly violate the MGPP and their binding leases and we demand that the illegal construction above 100 feet be taken down. The time has come for obfuscation to stop and true transparency to begin.

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday.