A View of The Bridge

Photo from Wikimedia
Photo from Wikimedia

Each year, tourists come by the multitudes to see the iconic view of the New York skyline from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. However, the world famous Promenade’s view of the Brooklyn Bridge is now at risk of being obstructed.

The real estate company Toll Brothers is building a large condominium and hotel project called the Pierhouse on the Brooklyn waterfront. Many feel that the building, which has been under construction for two years, has obstructed the Promenade’s view for almost a year. A group of Brooklyn Heights residents, called Save The View Now (STVN), claims that the Toll Brothers have broken their agreement, made nearly a decade ago, not to block the view.

For many, the view from the Promenade is priceless. One Brooklyn Heights resident describes the view as “breathtaking.” Another resident said, “It’s iconographic. It’s world famous. It’s very special.”

In 2006, the Brooklyn Heights Community Board approved the Toll Brothers’ plans. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the two parties agreed that the building would not exceed a height of one hundred feet, in order to maintain the Promenades view of the world famous bridge. However, since September of 2014 disputes have been made as to the exact height of the building.

On their website, STVN states, “The Pierhouse is obstructing the iconic views of the historic Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyline and is inconsistent with the plans presented to the community in 2006 – 2006. Working together is the only way to stop the Pierhouse from completely obstructing these scenic vistas.”

Toll Brothers and their supporters claim that the Pierhouse’s construction meets the 2006 agreement. According to the Brooklyn Heights Blog, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which has overall control of the project, said, “[T]he buildings on Parcels A and B [the Pierhouse buildings] will fully comply with the height limits in the 2006 General Project Plan (GPP). “

In the meantime Brooklyn Heights remains divided over the issue. While many residents vehemently oppose construction of the Pierhouse project, some approve. Some residents support the Pierhouse because it has in part financed the popular Brooklyn Bridge Park. One resident on the Brooklyn Heights Blog commented, “(T)here is no park without this development. Remember, the park has to be self sustaining. Thank goodness that the BBP was able to attract multiple bidders for this space enabling them to select superstar companies like Starwood and Toll Brothers to develop the space.”

In April, the STVN filed a lawsuit over the Pierhouse’s obstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Last June, Judge Lawrence Knipel of the Brooklyn Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, despite having sympathy for the STVN argument. According to the New York Law Journal, Judge Knipel said, “The casual passerby walking along Brooklyn’s majestic Promenade is struck with an indelible impression that these buildings, now nearing completion, are simply too large.”

However, he later asserted that it was “undeniable” that the buildings had remained at the height agreed upon in 2006. The 2006 height limit of one hundred feet only pertained up to the roof, not to the roof top structures. On their website, Brooklyn Bridge Park affirmed their claim by saying that the Empire State Development Corporation, New York’s chief economic department agency, had approved the plan for rooftop structures.

After the ruling, the STVN pledged to continue their fight against the Pierhouse project by appealing. However, given the Judge Knipel’s conclusive ruling, chances seem slim for a successful lawsuit. It seems likely that the Pierhouse Project will be a new part of the view from the Promenade.




About Leo Catapano