The first 17 acres of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in 2010. Additionally, the City has taken full responsibility for the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of the park. Transfer of responsibility for the long-term development and governance of the park was part of a larger agreement that included additional capital funding, a process for studying alternative sources of operating funds, plans for new recreational amenities, and creation of a community advisory council. The agreement, negotiated locally by State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman, was announced on March 10, 2010. Twelve days later the first portion of Pier 1 opened. Additional sections of the park opened over the spring and summer of 2010.
Download the Brooklyn Bridge Park Memorandum of Understanding (PDF)
When completed, Brooklyn Bridge Park will be 85 acres of open space extending 1.3 miles along the East River waterfront, with Atlantic Avenue as the southern boundary and Jay Street the northern terminus. Development of the park was funded by $226 million from the Port Authority of NY&NJ and the city of New York. The landscape architect is Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Construction began in January 2009.
Six acres on Pier 1 opened on March 22, 2010 including the first of the waterfront promenades, lawns, and playgrounds. Pier 1, the largest of the park piers, was constructed on landfill rather than piles, which allowed a hill to be formed at the center of the pier. The "Granite Prospect," stone steps from the top of the hill to the waterfront promenade, provides views of the East River, New York Harbor and beyond.
The second section of the park to open was the Pier 6 uplands, in June. The 1.6-acre playground built there features a water play area, 6,000 square-foot sandbox, 21 swings, and slides. A dog run, near the Atlantic Avenue entrance to the park, and seasonal water taxi service to Governors Island and other destinations were also constructed. Restrooms on Pier 6 have opened.
Read more about Pier 6 and view renderings and photographs
Another 4.9 acres on the uplands between Pier 1 and Pier 2 opened in August. The principal new feature is a salt marsh and water garden that collects and filters rainwater, which will be stored and used for irrigation. The upland area also includes a bikeway, with an interim route extended as far as Joralemon Street, where it connects back to Pier 6. Water access for non-motorized boats is located at the base of Pier 2 and between Pier 1 and Pier 2.
Read more about Pier 1 and view renderings and photographs
The 4.8-acre city park at the foot of Main Street remains open as park construction proceeds. Brooklyn Bridge Park assumed responsibility for managing the park on December 1, 2010. This section of parkland includes a nautically-themed playground, dog run, lawns and access to the East River from a pebble beach. However, the former Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, now under the management of Brooklyn Bridge Park, is closed for improvements and installation of a carousel donated by Jane and David Walentas.
The park entrance at the foot of Old Fulton Street was completed fall 2010. The portion of Pier 6 closest to land is planned to open in spring 2011. The Pier 6 upland will include volleyball courts and a restaurant with outdoor roof deck, the latter expected to open in fall 2011. A request for proposals to outfit and operate the restaurant was released November 29, 2010; responses were due January 25, 2011.
The nine-acre Empire Fulton Ferry Park, with "Jane's Carousel" installed in a new all-weather pavilion, and other landscape and amenity improvements, is scheduled to be completed in summer 2011.
In November 2010, the Brooklyn Bridge Park board of directors authorized a contract for the construction of a pedestrian bridge from Squibb Park to Pier 1. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2011 and will be coordinated with Public School 8, which is currently using Squibb Park for recreation while a school annex is being built. Funding for the $4 million bridge was allocated by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Council Member Stephen Levin independent of the capital budget for the park.
It is anticipated that completion of Pier 5 and a portion of the Pier 5 uplands will occur in summer 2012. This five-acre section of the park is designed to include multi-use recreation fields and a picnic peninsula. Pier 4, which no longer has a deck, will also be separated from its uplands to enhance the wildlife preserve naturally occurring in the pile-field.
Read more about Pier 5 and view renderings
The Pier 5 and Pier 3 uplands are anticipated to be completed in winter 2012-2013 and spring 2013, respectively.
Some sections of the park remain unfunded. As additional funding becomes available, the park development corporation states it will prioritize construction of Pier 2, the wave attenuation for the calm water harbor, the remainder of Pier 6, the area at the foot of John Street, and construction of Pier 3. Also unfunded are Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, beneath the bridge span, and upgrades to the existing city park at the foot of Main Street.
See the construction phasing expressed as a map
Additional Capital Budget Funding
Pursuant to the March 2010 agreement and contingent on the city determining appropriate revenue sources to produce sufficient operating funds, an additional $55 million was committed for capital construction. These monies would be used to construct additional park elements, with $36 million earmarked for the construction of the Pier 2 and John Street portions of the park.
The park has committed to investigate the feasibility of constructing a "bubble" on Pier 5. If it is determined that the pier can physically support such a structure, up to $750,000 has been earmarked for this project. The recreation facility would be operated by a concessionaire selected by a request for proposals, who may be required to assume most capital and operating expenses.
If sufficient monies remain, and a decision is made to not construct housing on the upland portion of Pier 6 (see below), the balance of the $55 million would be used to construct the remaining unfunded sections of the park.
Alternative Sources of Funding
Another component of the March 2010 agreement is the creation of a Committee on Alternatives to Housing. The committee is studying potential alternatives to the currently planned operating revenue model, which calls for payments in lieu of taxes and ground rent from 360 Furman Street ("One Brooklyn Bridge Park") and new real estate development to be constructed on the inland edge of the park. As part of the March 2010 agreement, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman can veto Brooklyn Bridge Park's issuance of requests for proposals for the currently planned John Street and Pier 6 residential development sites.
Brooklyn Bridge Park retained Bay Area Economics on October 21, 2010 to review the current revenue model, research and document alternatives, and analyze the feasibility of the alternative revenue models for funding the park operation and maintenance. The committee and consultants conducted two public hearings, on November 30 and December 9, 2010.
Bay Area Economics presented its draft report to the park board of directors on February 22, 2011. Interested organizations and individuals have 60 days—until April 25, 2011—to comment on the draft and provide feedback to the Committee on Alternatives to Housing. A public hearing is currently scheduled for 6:00 pm on Monday, March 31, at the St. Francis College Auditorium. The final report is expected to be completed in late-May, after which the committee will vote on alternatives to refer to the Brooklyn Bridge Park board of directors.
Learn more and access the draft study and supporting material
The board of directors of Brooklyn Bridge Park conditionally designated St. Ann's Warehouse as the primary tenant of the Tobacco Warehouse, a Civil War-era structure that was part of the former Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, on November 17, 2010. St. Ann's proposes to adapt the structure for cultural, educational and civic programming. Two organizations made submissions to be lead tenant in response to a request for proposals (RFP); St. Ann's Warehouse, a DUMBO theater, and LAVA, a performing arts troupe based in Prospect Heights. Five organizations expressed interest in being subtenants. Brooklyn Bridge Park currently plans to vote in summer 2011 to authorize a lease with St. Ann's, with the facility expected to open in spring 2013.
Read the public presentation of the RFP proposals (PDF)
State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Member Joan Millman, Council Member Stephen Levin and some community organizations called for the withdrawal of the RFP, which was announced in August with responses due October 25, 2010. Among the concerns expressed was a desire for more public input into the plans for the Tobacco Warehouse and an increased understanding of the structure's potential and its ability to possibly generate revenue to fund the park's maintenance and operation.
On January 18, 2011 the Brooklyn Heights Association, Fulton Ferry Landing Association and New York Landmarks Conservancy sued the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation in state court and, in federal court, the National Park Service (NPS). The groups allege false and misleading information about the public's use of the Tobacco Warehouse was provided to NPS in order to remove the structure from a federally protected section of Brooklyn Bridge Park. The organizations seek to block the transfer of the warehouse to a private party for redevelopment.
In a letter dated February 11, 2011, NPS wrote that inclusion of the Tobacco Warehouse in the protected area "was a correctable mistake." NPS based its decision on the history of alternative proposals for the structure and stated the letter "represents the final administrative determination of the Department of the Interior in this regard." The Brooklyn Heights Association has stated it will continue the lawsuits.
Community Advisory Council
The March 2010 agreement also established a Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Advisory Council. The 27-member body includes representatives of nearby neighborhood, tenant and business associations and other interested parties, who will serve two-year terms. Nancy Webster, executive director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, and John Dew, chairperson of Community Board 2, serve as co-chairs. The first meeting of the Community Advisory Council was held on October 26, 2010 and meetings are scheduled to be held bi-monthly.