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.
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.