In the coming weeks, we’ll be creating a series of articles refuting point by point information on the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation’s website. Please help us and share these facts with your social networks.
THE FACTS – YOU DECIDE
Following the Community Advisory Committee (“CAC”) meeting on February 3, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (“BBPC”) posted on its website a piece titled “Pier 1 Development Facts.” In this Pier 1 Development Facts, BBPC states what they believe the “Facts” are as it relates to Pierhouse.
We are compelled to present side by side, BBPC’s statement of the “facts” and why the BBPC is wrong. 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” .
All of our facts are based on publicly available documents and can be found either on BBPC’s website or the Department of Buildings (“DOB”) website. Unlike the BBPC who only answers questions generally, we provide specific support to why they are wrong.
In this first installment, we discuss the Pier 1 site Height Limit and why NYC Zoning Regulations do not apply.
On August 4, 2011, BBPC released the Pier 1 RFP. The RFP states throughout that the Maximum Height for Parcel A is 100’ft and Parcel B is 55’ subject to the Scenic View Plan Requirements (“SV-1”). It also states that the only applicable Zoning Regulation is the SV-1.
Following the distribution of the Pier 1 RFP, BBPC created an Amendment 1 to the RFP dated October 7, 2011 titled “Questions and Answer.” Question number 4 specifically asks: Do rooftop mechanical equipment and other Permitted Obstructions count against the maximum height restrictions? As BBPC stated at the CAC meeting and below, upon receipt of the question they consulted with ESDC and were told the height of rooftop mechanicals and other Permitted Obstructions should be treated in a manner consistent with NYC Zoning Resolutions.
The BBP General Project Plan (GPP) prescribes a height limit of 100 feet. This reflects the effort to develop a building of scale and impact similar to the National Cold Storage Warehouses. The GPP is silent on the inclusion of mechanicals within the 100 feet. Upon consultation with Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the decision was made to permit rooftop mechanical equipment to exceed the 100’ height limit provided that it fit the definition of a “Permitted Obstruction” in the NYC Zoning Resolution.
WHY BBPC IS WRONG
BBPC’s is mistakenly relying on NYC Zoning Regulations. NYC Zoning Regulations were never intended to apply to the Pier 1 project which is evidenced in documents before the 2011 RFP and after the RFP. Examples include without limitation:
- The December 18, 2006 Modified General Project Plan (“GPP”), the very document BBPC believes is the controlling document and references above, devotes nearly an entire page of a sixteen page document to a section titled “Override of Local Requirements.” It states expressly that:
“Specifically, in order to facilitate the full range of development outlined in the General Project Plan, zoning shall be overridden.”
While BBPC claims the GPP is silent on the inclusion of mechanicals within the 100 feet maximum height, we believe their statement is twisting semantics as the above quote, along with the rest of this section, makes clear that NYC Zoning Regulation does not apply. Therefore, a 100’ maximum height is just that, a maximum height inclusive of mechanicals.
- A review of the design plans (the “Design Plans”) currently on file with the Department of Buildings (“DOB”) states the following “The Modified General Project Plan…(adopted on July 26, 2005 and subsequently modified on December 18, 2006 and March 26, 2010) overrides all local zoning requirement (except as specified below).” We note that the exception relates to the Scenic View Plan, which we will address in a follow-up installment.
- These Design Plans also contain a notation that states “see attached zoning over letter” which was typed onto the form. The attached zoning letter is written by the Empire Statement Development Corporation (“ESDC”) dated June 19, 2012 and titled “Pier 1 Uplands, Ownership and Override of City Requirements Regarding Zoning.” This letter also states the following
“In furtherance of the project, ESDC and BBPDC have exercised their statutory authority to override local zoning requirements that are applicable to the Project, including Pier 1 Development Parcels.”
- We highlight that these Design Plans, along with the ESDC Override Letter have been filed 3 times at the DOB under 60 Furman St and 90 Furman St (collectively representing the hotel portion) and 130 Furman St (representing the condominium portion). Each of these filings also expressly state following:
“MAXIMUM BUILDING HEIGHT FOR PARCEL A IS 100 FEET” and “MAXMIMUM BUILDING HEIGHT FOR PARCEL B IS 55 FEET SUBJECT TO THE VIEW PLANE REQUIREMENT.”
How else is one to interpret the words “Maximum Height”?
- The RFP also makes it perfectly clear that the GPP, the FEIS, and other documents are the controlling documents and must be followed without limitation. In the FEIS the following is stated:
Any required parapet and mechanical equipment would be included in the proposed building envelope.
This is entirely consistent with all the other implicit language in the GPP and FEIS that speaks to maximum height and protecting views. Any other interpretation is not supported by these documents.
CONCLUSION ON HEIGHT LIMITS
It is unequivocally clear that NYC Zoning Regulation does not apply to the Pierhouse project. Therefore, the term “maximum height” is subject to only one interpretation, that the maximum height of Parcel A is 100’ inclusive of mechanicals and the maximum height of Parcel B is 55’subject to SV-1, inclusive of mechanicals.
BBPC’s Facts regarding Bulkhead state the following: “The Hotel bulkhead contains two parts. The lower bulkhead, closer to Furman Street, is approximately 23’ tall and contains an emergency generator and cooling towers. The remainder of the hotel bulkhead is approximately 30’ tall and contains three levels.”
At a minimum, the hotel portion is 30’ over the 100’ maximum height limit.
The documents we highlighted are not meant to be inclusive but are meant to show the “facts”.
The fact of the matter is: BBPC is incorrectly relying on NYC Zoning Regulations, in direct contradiction with the GPP, Design Plans and other relevant Park Planning documents, before and after the 2011 RFP was distributed.