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Promised Site of Bushwick Inlet Park Up for Public Auction Despite City Bid

By Gwynne Hogan | July 7, 2016 3:34pm
 Park advocates are demanding Norman Brodsky accept the city's $100 million offer.
Park advocates are demanding Norman Brodsky accept the city's $100 million offer.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

GREENPOINT — The owner of the last piece of waterfront property in the planned 28-acre Bushwick Inlet Park flouted community advocates and the mayor by ignoring the city's $100 million bid by putting the land up for public auction.

Property owner Norman Brodsky — through real estate agent Cushman and Wakefield — announced he'd be accepting offers for his 11-acre property, the final piece of land the city needs to fulfill a promise it made to finish Bushwick Inlet Parkduring the 2005 rezoning of the waterfront.

"This is a unique opportunity to construct a one-of-a-kind retail and office complex with unobstructed views of Manhattan on the coveted North Brooklyn riverfront," the website designed to field bids reads. "The stage is set for 1 N 11th to become the borough’s preeminent office location to date." 

Bidders have until July 20 to submit their offers, according to the website, which Bedford and Bowery first reported on.

The open auction for the land comes around a month after the city offered Brodsky $100 million for the land, which he promptly declined, saying it was a lowball offer. The neighborhood park advocacy group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park has pressured the city to make good on its offer to buy the land.

"Good start but they need to get to fair value," Brodsky told DNAinfo. He also denounced valuations of the land by park advocates who pin it somewhere between $46 and $116 million. "Friends of the park are nice people but know nothing about values of property."

"We're on the water surrounded by parks what do you think that's worth?"

Just across the street from the CitiStorage site at 250 Kent Ave., developers are plotting a massive speculative office complex, the first one to be built in Brooklyn in decades, signaling a surging market demand for office space in Williamsburg area.

The property is currently zoned for manufacturing use in an M3-1, meaning that legally, whoever buys the property could re-purpose it for a slew of other uses without any zoning changes.

"Nightclubs, offices, large-scale amusements, these are all allowed uses," said Leah Archibald, Director of Evergreen Exchange, an advocate for industrial businesses in North Brooklyn. "You can't have a hotel in M3 but all of these other uses generate higher revenues than manufacturing and can therefore pay a premium price."

And the city's offer is "way too low," said Archibald, who added that the $150 a square foot offered by the city is a fraction of what manufacturing land in the area currently fetches double or triple that amount.

However, advocates with Friends of Bushwick Park argue that for a number of reasons investing in the land at market rate for other industrial properties in North Brooklyn is a dicey proposition.

It could be subject to eminent domain proceedings if the city or state decide they will take the land anyway, and in that case they argue, whoever owns the property will be paid the land value prior to the rezoning, citing a 1943 Supreme Court decision.

And in addition, anyone who wants to develop the land might need to seek a waiver for zoning requirements about parking spaces in order to make new development there economically feasible, which the city has said it wouldn't support.

"This is not a slam-dunk development," said Adam Perlmutter said, a lawyer who represents Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park.

Meanwhile advocates are literally counting down the days Brodsky has left to take the city's offer which expires on August 8. 

They're organizing a a sleep-in on the asphalt in front of the property Saturday evening and circulating a petition with over 600 signatures started by kids at Greenpoint-Williamsburg Youth Soccer League, urging Brodsky to take the city's offer.

Steve Chesler, a ringleader with Friends of Bushwick Park, called Brodsky's open bidding for the CitiStorage site a "real aggressive move."

"It's kind of grotesque," he said. "The city put $100 million of tax payer money on the table..It's hard to see why he would rebuff that amount."

"We’re... just pleaing with both sides to close a deal."