‘Big win’ for park-starved North Brooklyn
By Mary Frost
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that the city had finally reached a deal to acquire the 11-acre CitiStorage site on the Williamsburg waterfront, allowing it to complete the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park.
CitiStorage site owner Norm Brodsky will receive $160 million for the parcel, a considerable improvement over the city’s last offer of $100 million, which Brodsky rejected.
Brodsky had indicated he would sell the property to a developer for office space, even as local officials pushed for the city to use eminent domain to take over the site. Sources told the New York Times over the summer that Brodsky has said he was hoping for bid closer to $325 million in an auction that ended in July.
With this deal the city will control the full 28-acre park footprint. The CitiStorage site sits in the center of the proposed park.
“Today is the day we begin turning the full vision of Bushwick Inlet Park into a reality,” de Blasio said in a release on Tuesday. He called the deal a “fair agreement.”
“Our administration keeps its promises,” de Blasio added. “When we commit to build a new park or a new school in a growing community, we deliver.”
Brodsky tweeted on Tuesday, “It’s done Williamsburg has its park.”
Ward Dennis, spokesman for the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, a community organization, told the Greenpoint Gazette on Tuesday, “We are thrilled that after 11 years, Bushwick Inlet Park is finally whole. This park is an important commitment to the health and well-being of the people of Greenpoint and Williamsburg.”
Dennis thanked de Blasio, Councilmember Steve Levin and Assemblymember Joe Lentol for pushing hard to get the park completed.
“I am beyond overjoyed,” Levin said in a statement. “This has been a lengthy and, at times, challenging process, but we all remained committed to the goal and had faith. This agreement was too important not to get done.”
“This is a proud day for the people of Williamsburg and Greenpoint,” Lentol said. “This is the most significant development that the City of New York has made towards fulfilling the promise made to this community during the 2005 rezoning. Our community should rejoice.”
According to Gothamist, Brodsky praised Levin for keeping the negotiations rolling. “This certainly never would have happened without Steve Levin’s tenacity,” he told Gothamist.
Promise unfulfilled for a decade
When Greenpoint and Williamsburg were upzoned in 2005, it was with the promise that the CitiStorage site would become part of the proposed park. The rezoning itself made the land more valuable, however, and the city said it could not afford to buy the parcel.
Residents in the area have less than a half-acre of open space per 1,000 residents, while the Department of City Planning recommends at least 1.5 acres per 1,000 residents. Increased population from massive new development has overwhelmed existing park space, advocates say.
Over the years residents and officials have protested, petitioned and even held a sleepover in the park to remind the city of its promise.
“We’ve rallied, we’ve written, we’ve legislated — and today, we celebrate together with Councilmember Levin, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and the North Brooklyn community,” state Sen. Daniel Squadron said in a release on Tuesday.
Squadron introduced state legislation in 2015 for imminent domain at the site.
“Today, we can celebrate real progress in ensuring promises made are promises kept,” he added.
Borough President Eric Adams said that Tuesday was a “momentous day” for the residents of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. He credited local residents’ tireless advocacy for Bushwick Inlet Park a reality.
“It has been my honor to stand with them in the fight to preserve this important section of Brooklyn’s waterfront as open space to help us raise healthy children and families,” he said.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Councilmember Rafael Espinal and other officials who had supported the park called the deal a big win for the community.