A controversial plan to build two towers inside Brooklyn Bridge Park pitted the de Blasio administration against elected officials and residents in an area where he has long enjoyed political support during a heated community meeting Thursday night.
Deputy mayor Alicia Glen, who oversees housing and economic development, spoke at the raucous public hearing inside the auditorium of St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.
She touted the project—which has sparked widespread anger in the neighborhood—saying it would provide affordable housing in an area where it “is desperately needed.”
She also disputed calls for a formal environmental review of the plan, which would delay construction. “We will wind up in exactly the same place,” she added during her public remarks, which were often met with jeers form the audience.
“We have an opportunity tonight here to not only cement the success of this park, but to do so in a way that is even more responsible to the needs of New Yorkers today,” she said.
The Empire State Development, an Albany entity, held the meeting to solicit feedback before it votes on the plan to erect 31- and 15-story residential towers in Pier 6 of the park.
The buildings would fund the upkeep of the park, according to city officials.
The opposition ranges from complaints that the neighborhood needs a new school to concerns that the towers would block waterfront views. Many in attendance simply said they do not want any housing in the park.
“It is important to note that broad opposition to luxury housing at Pier 6 has existed for years, long before the potential addition of affordable housing,” State Senator Daniel Squadron said. “The luxury-housing funding model perpetuates imbalances in park access and decision-making, and is inconsistent with the principle of open space that is protected, owned and maintained by the public, and democratically accessible to all. This is one reason that I urge the boards to reject the proposed amendments and push for alternatives.”
He also said the administration has yet to propose an additional school “to address this overcrowding crisis.”
Councilman Brad Lander called for a formal city study of the environmental impact of the plan.
Proponents of the towers characterized the opposition as a knee-jerk reaction to affordable housing.
Kathy Wylde, president of the business group Partnership for New York City, called the opposition “selfish.”
“They got a beautiful amenity in this park that was predicated on these developments that would pay for it and they accept the amenity and now they want to stop the developments. It’s crazy,” she said after the meeting.
“Unfortunately there is an elitist element in this community that simply doesn’t believe in more affordable housing,” Josh Gold, a political operative with the Hotel Trades Council, said after the hearing.