A legal battle over views of the Brooklyn Bridge has ended in a victory for commercial development over the opposition of local residents. Commercial developers Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital Group can now complete construction of the Pierhouse development, a hotel and condominium project in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Local residents had argued that a deal reached between developers and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation in 2005 was supposed to protect views of the iconic bridge from the park.
The developers, on the other hand, argued that without this and other developments Brooklyn Bridge Park would not exist. They argued that since the park was established, its funding plan has depended on revenue from commercial real estate development within the park's boundaries.
The New York City Buildings Department had partially stopped work at the construction site while it investigated whether the building would be too tall for view protection guidelines. Earlier this month, however, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that construction could go forward. The judge acknowledged that buildings in the area obstructed views, but found no evidence the Pierhouse project violated the terms of the 2005 agreement. The judge found no legal basis to overturn the political decision to give economic development priority over aesthetic considerations.
Complex litigation involving a large commercial development requires a sophisticated understanding of the state, federal and local laws that can apply to the project. While a negotiated solution is often preferable, this case shows that sometimes it is necessary to go to trial and submit the matter to the court for decision.
Source: New York Daily News, "Judge rules hotel and condo project can resume despite protests that it ruins view of Brooklyn Bridge," Katherine Clarke, June 14, 2015