Greenpoint Gazette

Could Last Minute Legislation Keep Bushwick Inlet out of Private Hands?

BY Tanay Warerkar

With the price tag for the purchase of the CitiStorage lot at Bushwick Inlet having crossed $200 million, state legislation is underway that would allow for the land to be acquired through eminent domain, similar to recent legislation that was passed to rescue a senior and childcare center in Williamsburg.

State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblyman Joe Lentol have introduced a bill in the Senate and Assembly respectively that would allow for the Empire State Development Corporation to acquire the CitiStorage’s parcel along Bushwick Inlet, the proposed site of the park, and then subsequently allow the city administration to develop the park on the land.

The bill cites the promises made by the city as part of the 2005 rezoning in Greenpoint and Williamsburg and notes that these commitments were made in Environmental Impact Statements and City Planning resolutions created at the time of the rezoning.

Once the land has been acquired by Empire State Development, the bill gives the city the authority to develop the space, but also states that starting one year after the purchase, if the city does not go through with the development of the park space, it would have to deposit $1 million in a trust to develop other park land or for the upkeep of existing parks.

The high price tag on the property begs the question of what funds the state will use to purchase the property if the legislation passes, however a representative for Empire State said that the agency does not comment on ongoing legislation.

“It is too early to speak about what Empire State Development will do, but I am hopeful they will purchase the property,” said Lentol. “The Governor has a strong record on preserving open space and I believe he may want an opportunity to preserve such an important section of land in Brooklyn. Our community must keep making our case – which is, you cannot manufacture open space you can only preserve the space that we have. The Bushwick Inlet Park must be fully completed.”

A Crain’s report published in May this year speculated that two real estate firms – Midtown Equities and East End Capital were in talks with the owner of the land, Norman Brodsky, to purchase the property.

It begged the question of whether the land would go the way of the Domino redevelopment project and Greenpoint Landing – where developers agreed to build publicly accessible park space and provide affordable housing in exchange of large-scale residential developments.

Midtown Equities did not respond to a request for comment.

It is unclear whether the legislation will pass before the session ends for the summer, but elected officials are confident, it will be taken up again next year.

“With session coming to an end this year, we will continue our push to ensure the City keeps its promise at Bushwick Inlet Park, along with the Assembly and City Council,” said Squadron. “I’ll keep working with Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and my colleagues to demand our park, including through this legislation.”

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