Testimony on Brooklyn Bridge Park Civic & Land Use Improvement Project

RPA statement to the New York State Urban Development Corporation D/B/A Empire State Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation in support of the proposed modification to the Modified General Project Plan for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Civic and Land Use Improvement Project 

Regional Plan Association submits this testimony in support of the proposed modification to the Brooklyn Bridge Park General Project Plan for the development parcel located on the upland of Pier 6.

In its few short years, the still-incomplete Brooklyn Bridge Park has already become an iconic destination in New York City. With well over 100,000 people visiting each summer weekend, the park is helping to raise the profile of the area while creating social, economic and environmental opportunities for residents, visitors and the city alike. This valuable public resource is supported by a unique funding model that we believe should serve as an example to be replicated.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is a self-sustaining park, funded with revenue-generating activities that support maintenance and operations. The activities already available along the 1.3 miles of park on the waterfront with views of Manhattan’s skyline and New York Harbor provide playgrounds for children, programming for school groups, live music, access to public art, public fitness classes, space for team sports, access to boating and more. Providing these benefits requires a stable source of funding, and completing the development on Pier 6 will help to ensure the park’s financial solvency in the long term and support this innovative model.

At the same time, the development parcels provide a unique opportunity to meet three pressing demands in our city today:

The need for more affordable housing: More than 30% of the housing units within the proposed development for Pier 6 will be dedicated to permanently affordable housing for moderate- and middle-income households. The additional housing development will help to alleviate the city’s need for affordable residential units, while also helping to create a more vibrant and dynamic mixed-income community in the park.

The need for more pre-K seats: A 75-seat, universal pre-K facility will be developed on the site and help to meet the high demand for pre-K seats in the community.

The need for more high-quality community and open space: In addition to the development of a 1,500-square-foot community center on the development site, additional public parkland will be developed, providing much-needed community space to neighbors and visitors.

In order for development to proceed and these needs to be met, the general project plan needs to be modified. Upon approval of the modification, more affordable units will be allowed, the heights of the two buildings will be reduced and streetscape improvements to a loop road will create additional space with more pleasant user experiences. The proposed modification represents a small shift from the original plan in the direction that will better serve the public.

RPA supports Brooklyn Bridge Park’s efforts to amend its general project plan. We are hopeful the boards of directors of Empire State Development and Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, community members and other stakeholders will approve the modification.