Almost 12 years ago, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised Williamsburg a 28-acre park at the Bushwick Inlet. That was in a 2005 rezoning which allowed for the explosion of luxury apartment towers along the waterfront. Finally, a deal has been made for $160 million. The deal includes the City’s purchase of the last piece of property it needed to complete the sprawling waterfront Bushwick Inlet Park. Mayor de Blasio is using the opportunity as proof that the mayor’s office sticks to its word (it is getting close to election time, we might add).
The last holdout was a CitiStorage site, which the city will purchase from Norman Brodsky for $160 million, after offering him a mere $100 million earlier this year. Although the City previously offered Bordsky $100 million for his property, after months of backroom discussions and pressure from community advocates and local politicians, the City finally reached a verbal agreement with Brodsky for $160 million in November, $60 million more than it had publicly offered in June.
As people living in the area know, since 2005 condo towers were built and expanded in the area but the progress at the park dragged behind. This is because the City was missing Brodsky’s 11-acre parcel-which was necessary for the future of the park.
Brodsky originally wanted a whopping $325 million. The story is that Brodsky had two buyers who wanted to build commercial buildings that were each willing to pay around $170 million.
Brodsky credits the work of North Brooklyn residents for making the deal happen. He said they were the ones to pressure the city to make good on the 2005 promise of a park.
Credit was given to Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint), Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), and Steve Chesler, of activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park who fought for the space. The local group came up with creative ways to keep their cause in the news with events such as holding a rally on a flotilla of kayaks, projecting messages onto the warehouses, creating a pop-up park on the land, and camping out in front of the site.
Assemblyman Lentol was pursuing state legislation to seize the property via eminent domain, while Levin had vowed to withhold his crucial support for ever rezoning the CitiStorage lot for residential use, which greatly reduced its value.
Beyond the $160 million, the city has already allotted $225 million towards the park that has gone towards building out the first section, buying another piece of property, and remediation and demolition at that site, according to the Parks Department.
Planning a picnic to the park? You’ll have to wait. It will be a while before Bushwick Inlet Park is completed. The city needs to demolish the warehouses and old oil refineries currently occupying the space, then scrub the soil of toxic waste. People are patient when expectations are set. Locals say they’re just happy to know the land is secure.