Bushwick Inlet Park

As property auction ends, city and land owner at impasse over Bushwick Inlet Park plan

Politico
July 20, 2016

As an auction closed Wednesday for a private Brooklyn waterfront parcel the de Blasio administration is hoping to acquire for a park, the mayor’s team and the property owner remained at an impasse.

Two city officials wrote separate letters to the local city councilman, Steve Levin, indicating the limited uses for the land: It is zoned for manufacturing construction with a maximum size of about 570,000 square feet. (The allowed size would vary based on the actual plans.)

The letters were intended to send a message to the owner, Norman Brodsky, that if he does not accept the city’s offer of $100 million for the 11-acre parcel that is home to a CitiStorage site, he will have a hard time selling the land for a higher price.

The city wants the plot so it can complete its assemblage of the Bushwick Inlet Park.

Brodsky, in a phone interview, said he believes he can fetch a higher price and is not worried about the city’s reluctance to rezone the land. A Wall Street Journal story last month said the property was on the market for $325 million.

He would not, however, reveal details of the auction.

“The land for sale is as is, and … Williamsburg/Greenpoint is a mecca for office space now, so that’s what you can build there,” he said. “I have no illusions that it’s going to be rezoned.”

“Of course everybody would love to rezone,” he added. “It makes the property more valuable, but we’ll sell it as is.”

In one letter to Levin, Peter Wertheim, a senior advisor to deputy mayor Alicia Glen, referred to the “significant zoning restrictions” for the site, should it be developed as something other than a park.

“It is my understanding that, in practical terms, these regulations are likely to minimize the development potential given the significant costs associated with compliance and the attendant reduction in the developable area,” Wertheim wrote.

A more technical letter from Department of City Planning official Winston Von Engel said a builder would have to add “a very significant number of screened, off-street parking spaces,” although the specific number is dependent upon any given project.

He also said a potential buyer should not count on access to the site through three city-owned streets that have been approved for closure.

Brodsky said he requested an appraisal of the site, but the city never conducted one.

“The administration believes this is a fair and appropriate offer. In fact, this offer represents approximately $3 million more per acre than the average price paid for other sites contained within the Bushwick Inlet Park footprint,” de Blasio spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas said in an email.

She said the city has spent nearly $225 million on acquisition and development of the park to date.

“I think that the city made an earnest offer to acquire this property and it was a significant amount. It was a significant amount in terms of what the property is currently zoned for,” Levin, the local councilman, said in a phone interview. “I won’t support any rezoning whatsoever — no parking waivers, no special permits, no setback waivers, no rear yard equivalent waivers. As of right is it, because this is supposed to be a park.”

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