City reaches $160 million deal for last piece of Bushwick Inlet Park
November 22, 2016
Acquisition comes after months of tense negotiations for CitiStorage site
The city has reached a $160 million deal to purchase the final parcel of waterfront property needed to create Bushwick Inlet Park, a planned 25-acre green space in Williamsburg.
The city is buying an 11-acre site occupied by CitiStorage. One of the records-storage business’s two large warehouses on the land burned down in a seven-alarm fire in early 2015.
The parcel is the last of several block-long stretches of contiguous land the city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring over seven years to create the park, which was promised by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Only one of those parcels has been developed into park space.
“Today is the day we begin turning the full vision of Bushwick Inlet Park into a reality,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “After an extensive negotiation, we have struck a fair agreement to acquire the CitiStorage site. This is an investment in the future of Brooklyn, and in the children, longtime residents and newcomers in this community.”
The deal ends months of tense negotiations between the city and Norman Brodsky, the majority owner of the CitiStorage site, who had originally sought a much higher sum for the property. In a conversation with Crain’s in early 2015 when the city’s residential market was soaring, Brodsky imagined it could be worth $500 million or more.
In the months that followed, several of the city’s biggest developers, including the Related Cos., considered acquiring the site, with plans to seek a rezoning from the city that would allow the construction of residential towers. In exchange for that permission, potential buyers explored offering to include affordable housing and park space.
But the prospect of high-rise luxury apartment buildings at the center of a promised park triggered community outrage. The local councilman, Stephen Levin, vowed to veto any such plans.
Levin’s opposition, along with a cooling market for residential development, eventually scared off buyers willing to pay the huge sum Brodsky was seeking. Under pressure to complete the assemblage for the park, the city offered Brodsky $100 million for the site in June. When Brodsky tried to push the price to nearly double that, the talks cooled until recent days when a deal was finally reached.
Brodsky credited the councilman for the agreement.
“The deal was made possible because of Steve Levin’s work, period,” Brodsky told Crain’s. “He put the whole deal together.”
Brodsky purchased the site in the early 1990s, when Williamsburg’s waterfront was predominantly an industrial zone. Brodsky had a special attachment to the site, living there for years in a multistory home with sweeping views of Manhattan that was attached to one of the CitiStorage warehouses. His residence, along with many of his personal possessions, was destroyed in the 2015 blaze.
Bushwick Inlet Park will be among the most expensive green spaces paid for by the city. While the park was originally budgeted at around $300 million, the city has spent at least $323 million just purchasing the property on which it will be built. Additional millions must be spent planning and constructing it.
“Our administration keeps its promises,” de Blasio’s statement said. “When we commit to build a new park or a new school in a growing community, we deliver. We look forward to working with local officials, activists and residents as we design and build a Bushwick Inlet Park we can all be proud of.”
The mayor is seeking re-election in 2017.